Radically better photos starting right now without taking a single lesson!!

Thought I’d give myself a challenge this morning. After almost a month of wonderful photography basic classes (and thanks everyone who attended and thank you for your great emails), I thought I’d offer my five killer tips on how to get radically better photos without having to take the time to go to a photography class.* BTW the photo on right is a self-portrait taken during David Tejada’s fabulous Small Strobes-Big Results workshop held last year in Buffalo at the deserted Buffalo Train Terminal Building. Cool place.

  1. Regardless of the camera (point & shoot or digital single lens reflex), get out and shoot at least once a week! Give yourself assignments like shooting a snow-covered scene or taking pictures of the kids. Take a photo of the same scene at different times of the day.
  2. Join a camera club and attend their monthly meetings. Good camera clubs bring in great speakers who will inspire you.
  3. Shoot in automatic! Let the camera do the work while you concentrate on your creative vision. I can teach you the mechanics of photography but I can’t teach you how to see (although courses will help you grow your own creative vision.)
  4. When it comes to shooting get closer – a lot closer. Most people shoot from way too far back allowing for stuff in the background to clutter the image.
  5. Surf the web. There are lots of great photographers who post their amazing images online. Think there’s nothing to shoot around your house and neighbourhood? Go visit Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir’s website. This 30-something photographer lives in Iceland and in 2006 was proclaimed one of the web’s top photographers by the Wall Street Journal. And, this is going to hurt: Rebekka is primarily self-taught. Okay we’ll never shoot like Rebekka. How about Sally Mann? On the edge of 60 Sally Mann has been shooting much of her life. Called the best photographer shooting in America by Time magazine in 2001, Sally has been using 100-year-old wet plate technology (popular during the American Civil War) to shoot images of her children and the landscapes of the American south. (So it’s not the quality or cost of the camera that’s important.) Here’s a link to Artnet which has some of Sally’s images on display.

* Okay so maybe you might want to take a camera class if it’s time to get off of automatic mode and really learn the secrets of digital photography. At virtually every class I teach, someone discovers something amazing about their camera that did not know. Whether it’s how (and why) to shoot in RAW rather than JPG or how (and why) to change the white balance while shooting or how to use exposure or flash compensation, come to one of my classes offered at various locations in the Greater Toronto Area and all will be revealed. If you’ve got a small group of eight or more students we can work out a special price just for you 🙂

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