7 Essential Photography Tips All Photographers Need to Know
Hi, Ed Mercer here.
I’ve been a professional photographer for over 30 years, and I often get asked for advice for new photographers. Together with my business partner, Norma Rickman, I’ve come up with a list of 7 tips I think are essential for all photographers from beginners to advanced to know.
So let’s get started!
Tip #1-Always Be Prepared
Tip#2-Be Aware of Light Quality & Location
Anyone who has studied photography or art will tell you that one of (if not the most important) elements in your photography is the lighting used to create the image. All the images below were taken with existing light. Just knowing when the best times of the day are to take photos as well as where to position yourself for the photo creates the best images possible.
Whenever you can, the first couple of hours of the morning and the last couple hours of the day are considered sweet light and will give you great images. The light has a beautiful golden hue, plus the close to sunrise & sunset casts fewest harsh shadows that can be problematic. The 2 images below of the sunset and boats are examples of sweet light.
You can also get great photos during midday as I did with the snow scene shown below. You just have to move around and compose your scene so that you avoid areas of harsh light and shadow that are sharp contrasts to each other. This will cause metering problems in your camera, and is difficult to adjust in post processing.
“Available Light “
Available light is also very flattering as you can see in the portrait of the young girl below. This photo was also taken later in the day. I reflected some light back into her eyes with a white reflector to add nice soft light to her eyes. So try and be aware of the quality of light and where to locate the light source in your images.
Tip#3-Get A Little Action In
“Make Sunsets More Spectacular”
I love to take photos of sunsets and sunrises just like everyone else. Whenever we head down to Florida for vacation we always wind up at the beach for sunset photos. Inevitably, we’re always met with a crowd hoping to get their own sunset photos or just enjoy the moment. Now sunset and sunrise photos are beautiful all by themselves, but they’re even better when you can include some action by a secondary object in your photo. The vibrant sunset photo below on the left is a great sunset photo. But the sunset photo below right which includes the sailboat makes an even stronger impact because it includes a secondary subject (the boat.) Motifs and secondary subjects in your photos make the photos more interesting and is a good exercise for your creativity.
Tip#4-Don’t Always Rely on Auto
Don’t be afraid to take your camera off the automatic settings. There are just some shots you won’t be able to pull off in auto mode. The photo below of the fireworks is an example of when auto mode would let you down. Your camera will likely have trouble with most photos taken at night as the internal exposure meter is fooled and will usually produce muddy looking images instead of the sharp crisp image of the fireworks shot below.
Water scenics is another place you have to be careful using auto mode. If you are trying to get a certain effect from waves or a soft cotton effect to running water like the image below with the waterfalls you need to learn and control your cameras manual settings.
And if you want to freeze motion like the football photo below then you need to be shooting at a fast shutter speed to stop the motion and you would do this manually depending on the effect you desire. You can also use aperture priority to accomplish this as long as you understand your settings.
Tip#5-Find the Picture within the Picture
Tip#6-Check the Background Before You Press the Shutter Button
Tip#7-Try Different Focal Lengths/Angles to Photograph From
These tips have helped a ton of my clients in the past with solving their photo challenges. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out and ask. We are here to help and make photography as fun for you as it is for us.