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25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Costume Call
by
Kevin Landwer-Johan

Travel always involves meeting people. Learning to make great travel portraits will enrich your experience. It will also help preserve your wonderful memories. Here are 25 tips to help you make the best travel photography portraits.

One big regret I have from the first time I traveled is that I didn’t take enough portraits. Back then, it was a long time ago, I was very shy. Photographing strangers I met along the way was too far outside my comfort zone. Now, years later, I wish I had photos of those people to accompany my wonderful memories.

Night Samlor 25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f9, 1/4 sec, ISO 100

1. Be Aware Of Your Environment

Get a feel for your new location. Whenever you travel you find yourself in unfamiliar places. Photography in a different culture and society is not the same as when you’re at home.

Look around you and take stock of the situation before you even take your camera out of the bag. Do you feel comfortable where you are? Ask yourself why or why not. Getting the vibe of a new place and the people will help you make better cultural photographs. You’ll be able to capture more of the essence of your experience the more aware you are of the environment.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Akha Friends
Camera: Nikon D700, Lens: 105mm, Settings: f5.6, 1/200 sec, ISO 400

2. Connect With People You Want To Photograph

When you’re traveling, connecting with people can be easier. Locals will often be more tolerant and open to being photographed by a tourist.

Be confident when you connect and use your camera as a bridge. Your camera is a wonderful tool to help you relate to strangers. Make the most of it.

If you are relaxed and sure about what you are doing, the people you are photographing will sense this too. Being close to them will not be a problem.

 

Kebab Chef in Istanbul 25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits
Camera: Nikon D700, Lens: 50mm, Settings: f2.8, 1/160 sec, ISO 400

3. Learn a Few Phrases in the Local Language

Picking up even a little of the local language is not difficult. This will help break the ice and endear you, even if your pronunciation is not perfect. Just because you try local people will appreciate your effort.

Use a phrase book. Get online and do a quick search. Or ask the staff at your hotel. Learn to say ‘hello, may I take your photo.’ Repeat the phrase a few times. Write it down so you can check it when you are out. It’s usually not that complicated.

Body language and gestures are often universal and will help you communicate too. Simply holding your camera and nodding your head towards it will communicate your intention. Watch for their response. If they smile back at you, then you have permission to take their photo.

 

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Shan Tea Shop
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f3.2, 1/160 sec, ISO 500

4. Choose The Best People To Photograph

The easiest people to photograph are the ones who enjoy it. By watching people for a little while you can pick up some clues. Are they relaxed? Do they interact easily with other people around them? Or are they more guarded?

You can learn to see who is more likely to respond well when you want to connect with them. These are the people to ask. Picking the right people to photograph will help you gain confidence in yourself. If you keep asking shy people you will receive more negative responses. This will make it more difficult to continue.

Porter Portrait 25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f5.6, 1/80 sec, ISO 400

5. Use a Medium or Medium Wide Angle Lens

Using a long lens will make it more challenging to capture intimate travel portraits.

Choosing a 35mm or 50mm lens, or a wide to medium zoom, means you can photograph someone at a closer range. This will help you communicate with them more easily. It does require you to be confident but this will also work to your advantage.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Khao San Road Street Vendor
Camera: Nikon D700, Lens: 20mm, Settings: f4, 1/125 sec, ISO 400

6. Be Interested In People and What They Are Doing

Being interested in someone will help them relax. Showing your curiosity in some aspect of a person or what they are doing can help you connect with them.

If you can’t speak to communicate use your facial expression and body language. Usually, people will understand and be flattered that you are showing an interest in them. This will help them relax and respond well when you want to take their portrait.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Showing a Photo
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 105mm, Settings: f4, 1/160 sec, ISO 400

7. Show People Your Photos

Once you’ve taken a few photos, show the person. This will help you make more of a connection. Quite often they will feel more comfortable.

Make sure you have one or two flattering images of them. Don’t show them a photo they look awkward in.

If you use a medium or medium to wide lens as I suggested in tip #4, this will make showing people your photo easier. Being a bit closer to people they’ll be able to see your camera monitor more clearly.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Camera settings
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f1.4, 1/160 sec, ISO 320

8. Know Your Camera and Settings

Have your camera ready before you approach someone. Choose the best focal length lens for the situation. Check your exposure and set it well. Even take a quick reference photo and check it to see if the person’s face will be well exposed.

The more attention you can give to your subject the more comfortable they will be with you. If you are looking down fiddling with your camera settings you’ll not be able to connect with people so well.

This takes practice. It is very important to know how to set your camera to get sharp, well-exposed photographs. The more quickly and easily you can do this the better photos you’ll be taking.

Learn the primary functions of your camera on manual mode. This will give you more freedom and confidence. You’ll get the technical aspects of your travel portraits correct more often.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Blue Hat Lady
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 24-120mm, Settings: f4, 1/200 sec, ISO 3200

9. Take Notice of the Light

Light is the essence of photography. The better the light is, the better your photographs will be.

Is the light strong on the person’s face? Are there dark shadows because of this? In these circumstances, you’ll need to be more deliberate with your exposure settings. If a person’s eyes are in shadow you may not be able to see them clearly in your photographs.

Photographing people in the shade, or in diffused light, it’s easier to get a more even exposure.

When there is a strong light behind a person you’ll also need to be more accurate with your exposure settings. Backlit portraits can be wonderful, but they are also easy to make a bad exposure with. Use your spot meter to take a reading from the persons face to ensure it’s well exposed.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Row Boat Captain
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 85mm, Settings: f4, 1/160 sec, ISO 400

10. Be Aware of What’s Behind Your Subject

Are there any distracting elements close in behind your subject? Try and avoid them in your composition. A clean, clear background will help focus attention on the person.

Coming in a little closer, either by moving or zooming your lens, can help cut out distractions.

You can also use a wider aperture setting to blur the background. When using this technique make sure enough of your subject remains in focus.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Senior Turkish Man
Camera: Nikon D700, Lens: 50mm, Settings: f5.6, 1/125 sec, ISO 400

11. Focus On Their Eyes

Taking portraits it’s important to make sure the person’s eyes are sharp. If you are not careful you might focus on their ear or some other part of them. Sometimes, especially when using a wide aperture setting, this will mean their eyes are out of focus.

The eyes are the window to the soul. If there’s not enough definition in their eyes you will lose a certain amount of character. If someone’s nose or ears are not perfectly in focus it will not matter so much as when their eyes are not sharp.

Tricycle Taxis at the Flower Festival Parade 25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits
Camera: Nikon D700, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f7.1, 1/320 sec, ISO 200

12. Find A Good Location To Photograph From

The more comfortable you are the better your portraits will be. If you’re in an awkward position or situation you’ll not be able to concentrate so well.

When there are a lot of other people around try and stay out of their way. Position yourself so people or traffic is not moving between you and your subject.

Your position will also dictate what you see in the background.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Monk Photographer
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f5, 1/100 sec, ISO 1000

13. Move Around To Find Better Angles

The first angle you chose might not be the best. Move around, even a little, to find different perspectives. A bit to your left or right you might find a more interesting composition. You might find a more interesting background.

Your position in relation to your subject and the background will determine what you see in your frame.

You might need to ask the person you are photographing to change their position slightly.  This can get them in the best location to take their portrait. Don’t be shy to do this as many people will appreciate what you’re doing. They will be flattered you are paying attention and wanting to make the best portrait you can of them.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Copper Artist, Istanbul
Camera: Nikon D700, Lens: 24-120mm, Settings: f2.8, 1/125 sec, ISO 1250

14. Compose For Isolation Or Environment

Taking travel portraits you will at times want to include some of the surroundings. This helps tell a better visual story. Other times you will want to isolate a person from their environment.

When the location is meaningful and will add depth to a portrait it’s best to include some of it. A wider lens will help you do this more effectively. Try to include elements in your composition that are relevant to the person you are photographing.

Isolating your subject can make a portrait more powerful at times. When the background is too busy and distracting using a shallow depth of field can help. A background with less or more light can also help isolate your subject.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Istanbul Cheese Sellers
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 50mm, Settings: f4, 1/250 sec, ISO 400

15. Fill The Frame

Look at what’s in your frame, not only at your subject. If you see elements which do not add to the composition, do what you can to eliminate or hide them from view.

Be aware of how much space is above your subject’s head. One of the most common mistakes is to center the person’s face in the frame. This leaves a lot of empty space above their head. This space rarely adds anything to the composition.

Once you have focused on your subject’s eyes, tilt your camera down so there’s minimal space above their head. This will mean you can see more of what’s in the foreground, which is probably more interesting.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits KAyan Music,  Myanmar
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f2.2, 1/125 sec, ISO 1000

16. Use Props With Your Subjects

Including some other element in your compositions can help make more interesting portraits. Musicians and craftspeople are easy enough to find good props for. Use their instrument or the tools of their trade. Other times you may have to use your imagination a little more.

Make sure the prop is meaningful but not too imposing in your photograph. You want the focus to remain on the person, not on the prop.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Lahu Smile
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 85mm, Settings: f1.4, 1/1000 sec, ISO 800

17. Think About Where Eye Level Is

Framing your subject with your camera at their eye level will create a neutral feeling.

If you’re above the eye level of them looking down, this can seem imposing. They may appear insignificant.

Photographing someone from a position lower than their eye level can make them look more important. Looking up at your subject can suggest an air of respect or a person of authority.

There is no hard and fast rule with this, as with many aspects of photography. Go with what looks best and feels right to you. Being aware of the difference in height you chose to photograph from will help you create better portraits.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Myanmar Farm
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f10, 1/400 sec, ISO 400

18. Take Both Vertical and Horizontal Photos

I don’t like the terms ‘portrait’ and ‘landscape’ to define the orientation of a photograph. I find it can limit people’s creativity to be thinking portraits should be vertical. I often prefer to make travel portraits with a horizontal orientation.

Environmental travel portraits are often best when a horizontal format is used. This allows you to more naturally show a person in their surroundings. Even when the person is isolated a horizontal portrait can work very well.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Asian Elephants
Camera: Nikon D700, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f5.6, 1/320 sec, ISO 200

19. Take More Photos Than You Think You Need To

One of the biggest mistakes photographers make when taking travel portraits is not to take enough photos. Coming back home and finding you did not manage to capture enough sharp, well-exposed photos of a person is disheartening.

People move. This adds complexity to your photography. You need to capture the best moment. When they’re smiling or laughing. When they’re talking with someone. While they are busy concentrating on their work. Whatever the situation, if there’s a person involved, take lots of photos so you can be sure you capture a few gems.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Chinese New Year Mask
Camera: Nikon D700, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f4, 1/1600 sec, ISO 200

20. Be Intentional When Taking Candid Portraits

Candid travel portraits can be brilliant. Catching a person engrossed in what they are doing will often make a more interesting picture than having them pose. But don’t take the easy option and make candid photos of people when it would be better to engage with them.

Only make candid portraits intentionally. Don’t make them because you are too shy to communicate and ask a person if you can take their photo. If you think you’ll get a better photo of someone if you talk with them first, then do so. Enjoy the interaction. They will probably enjoy the experience of having their photo taken.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Young Market Vendor
Camera: Nikon D700, Lens: 24-120mm, Settings: f4, 1/800 sec, ISO 400

21.Think In Black and White

Consider your subject and the lighting. Black and white photography is all about tone and the shades of gray in your composition.

Lighting has a huge influence on how a photo will look in black and white. If the color in your composition does not enhance it, then think about how it will look as a monotone.

Sometimes when you are composing a portrait there may be colors in your frame that distract from your main subject. This is an ideal time to think in black and white.

Consider how the light is. Soft light and hard light make two very different styles of monotone photos. Soft light makes for a nice even tone range. Hard light will produce dark shadows and bright highlights.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography PortraitsLoikaw, Myanmar
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f4.5, 1/2000 sec, ISO 800

22. Follow Your Gut Feeling

Why are you taking the person’s photograph? What has attracted you to them? Thinking about how you’re feeling can help you add more life to a portrait.

The way you feel can help you decide how to frame a portrait. What will you include in the frame? How much empty space will you leave around the person? Will you crop in close to their face or include their whole body?

Be aware of the emotion in any situation, both your feelings and those of the person you’re photographing. This can influence the outcome of your pictures.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Kayan Girl
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f1.6, 1/400 sec, ISO 400

23. Pay Someone When It’s Appropriate

Traveling amongst poor people in tourist areas it’s not uncommon for people to expect money for taking their picture. Don’t take advantage of their poverty to make your pictures. Be considerate and give a little back. You are benefitting from them so paying them is often the right thing to do.

When someone prompts you to take their photo, they may expect payment in return. It’s good to be aware of this and make your choice whether to take their photo or not based on how much they are asking for. Sometimes it is well worth it. If you have time and the situation is right, make the most of the circumstances and take a series of portraits. If the person is cooperative, tip them well.

Making a purchase from someone is a good lead into photographing them. I have many photos of people I have bought souvenirs from.

Kevin Landwer-Johan being kissed on the cheek
Me receiving some love from a Lisu man appreciative of the work we were doing with their village, (many years ago!)

24. Take Selfies With People

Once you have made some nice portraits of a person, pull out your mobile phone and ask them if you can take a selfie together. This will be fun and help you to remember the interaction you are having.

Sharing these selfies alongside the portraits you made will enhance your social media. Your followers will be able to relate more to your travel story when they can see you in the picture sometimes.

Alternatively, have your travel companion take a photo with you and your subject. This is a photo of me and a friend I made in Yunnan Province in China. It was long before the selfie was invented. It’s a wonderful reminder of an incredible adventure.

Kayaw Ethnic Minority Girl Exposing Your Creative Intent for More Powerful Photos
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 105mm, Settings: f3.2, 1/250 sec, ISO 100

25. Collect Email Addresses and Social Media Contacts

Most people will have an email address or social media account they are happy to share with you. Send them or tag them in the portraits you’ve made so they can enjoy the photos too. This is another fun way to boost your social media following.

25 Valuable Tips For The Best Travel Photography Portraits Market Tea Shop
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f2, 1/640 sec, ISO 800

Cultural Photography is All About the People

Travel photography ideas are much easier to come up with when you consider including people in your pictures. Cultural photography is all about the people. Merely photographing the places you travel to others will not be able to relate so well to your experience.

Making good travel portraits will mean your photos are more interesting to people when you share them. Most of us like to share some photos on social media or photo sharing sites like 500px. If your photos don’t include at least some portraits people may not pay so much attention to them.

We’re designed to connect with one another. Connect with and photograph the people you meet when you travel. Doing this will help your followers connect with and appreciate your photographs even more.

Further Reading

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post you will also enjoy “How To Choose the Best Travel Photography Workshop.”

Please sign up of our newsletter and stay up to date when I post more. I send a newsletter every two weeks with helpful and informative information and teaching about photography. You’ll also receive a free enrolment to one of my online photography courses.

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Equipment I used to make these photos.

Nikon full frame camera body. I use an older model D800. This link will take you to view the Nikon D850 which is the upgrade model.

Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G 

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G

Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G 

Nikon Nikkor 20mm f/2.8

Nikon AF-S fx NIKKOR 24-120mm F/4G ED

These are affiliate links for your shopping convenience. We appreciate when you shop with us. It helps me continue to keep this website relevant and up to date.

Camera Lens Fungus [Five Ways To Help Prevent It]

by
Kevin Landwer-Johan

Lenses are particularly susceptible to fungus in humid climates. I was reminded of this recently when checking my camera gear I found three lenses which I quickly took in for servicing. Thankfully there’s a fabulous camera service shop nearby that charges only a small price for cleaning. He even cleaned one lens for free as the fungus was minimal and only on the outside element of the lens.

Fungus is a microbial growth that grows on the surfaces of camera lenses. It’s a disease and it’s very common, especially in humid climates. Often it causes only minor damage, but I did see a lens once that had so much fungus in it I could not see through it.

Lens fungus gets inside your lens and can affect the inner elements. If there’s mold on the exterior it’s easy enough to remove. But if it’s significant, there will be damage to the glass. Fungus growing between the glass elements of your lens will require a skilled technician to clean. The lens will need to be dismantled and then rebuilt.

Preventing fungus is the best approach. Because once a lens has serious fungus growth the glass can become permanently damaged. Here are my tips for helping prevent this problem.

Lens Close Up clean from fungus

1. Wipe down your gear after using it. Particularly if the weather is wet or humid. If the weather’s hot and you were sweating while using your camera it’s certainly a good precaution to wipe it down. I use a slightly damp, lint-free cloth. I usually use two different microfibre clothes. One more absorbent and one for lens cleaning.

Once you’ve wiped your gear down carefully, placing it in front of a fan for an hour or so will help evaporate any remaining moisture.

2. Store your camera gear in a sealed box or case with a good amount of silica gel. The box can be as simple as a high-quality food storage container for a smaller camera, or a Pelican case.

The small packs of gel that come with consumer goods are pretty useless as they contain too little gel to be practical. I prefer a reusable gel which changes from blue to pink as it absorbs moisture. When the gel is pink it can be microwaved to reactivate it. It will dry out and turn blue again.

3. Keep your equipment in an airconditioned room. A room at a constant temperature with low humidity is a great way to store your gear. One drawback may be that in a very hot climate each time you take your gear out to use it you may find it fogs up due to being cold from the a/c. Adjusting the a/c so that it’s not too cold will help with this problem, but it might not be the most comfortable for people using the room!

4. Use a dehumidifier in the room. This is a very practical home appliance in humid climates. A good dehumidifier will not only help keep fungus from growing on your camera gear, but it will also help protect your books, artworks and other appliances from attracting mold.

5. Dehumidifier dry cabinet. These are designed and built specifically for storing camera equipment and come in various sizes. These units are digitally controlled, quiet and heatless.

Taking good care of your lenses is well worth it. I still regularly use some of my old, manual focus lenses I have owned for over 25 years.

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Learning How to Photograph People [Book Excerpt]

by
Kevin Landwer-Johan

I’m busy writing a book. As yet, it is untitled. The topic I am covering will be of most interest to photographers who struggle with feelings of shyness when it comes to making portraits. It’s based on my own experience. Here’s a short excerpt:

Discovering My Passion

Photography quickly became my passion. Having a camera in my hand excited me and taught me to view the world around me differently. I would visualize and compose photos in my imagination even when I didn’t have my camera with me.

I pointed my camera at old rusty things, beaches, skies, mountains, and flowers, among other things. But never at people.

People were well outside of my comfort zone. Especially strangers.

Large rusty iron wheel.

My skills developed as I practiced, read books, went to photography shows at galleries, and subscribed to magazines. Sometimes I went out photographing with my friends, but most of the time I was alone. I liked hanging out with my camera.

At that time my younger sister, Ann, was one of my closest friends. She encouraged me one day that my photos were very good. She commented too that they really lacked people. Virtually none of my photographs contained people. I didn’t feel comfortable photographing people, whether they were aware of my camera or not.

That day I made a decision. I would start to photograph people. Or, a person, at least. Ann became my unwitting, and somewhat unwilling, subject. She had encouraged me. I knew she liked my photography. So I took the easiest option to start photographing people.

Never posed or formal. Candids were more comfortable for me. Even with my dear sister I didn’t want to impose. This pervading feeling of not wanting to upset anyone by taking their photo stayed with me for many, many years. Still, now and again, I get this same feeling. But now I have learned how to deal with it.

Harbour bridge, Auckland, New Zealand in silhouette with person in foreground

Dealing With That Uncomfortable Feeling

I don’t want to impose on others. This is the most common reason I hear from photographers as to why they don’t photograph many people. Most workshop attendees I teach confess they feel uncomfortable photographing people, especially strangers. Some go on to say they booked the workshop because they want to learn to gain confidence in photographing people.

Overcoming that feeling, settling the butterflies having a party in your stomach, is possible. Concentrated effort to learn to have a quiet self-confidence if what’s required. Eliminate self-doubt. Don’t entertain thoughts that you’ll be imposing that flood your mind before you’ve even approached someone to take their picture.

Photography is so much more than choosing the best lens and camera settings. You must relate to your subject. Particularly when you’re photographing people. If this is challenging for you, digging deep is essential. Deep into your feelings that let fear of imposing invade your mind when you want to make a portrait.

Concentrate on the positive. Focus in on what’s attracted you. Why do you want to make that person’s portrait? Before you even approach someone or put your camera up to your eye, clear your mind of doubt. Settle your thoughts and have a positive attitude towards what you are doing. Training your mind to think like this you will in time be able to control the feelings of self-doubt and fear of imposing.

Orange and yellow sunset with a silhouetted bird flying on Cook Strait, New Zealand

Learn to recognize your negative thoughts that will disrupt your intentions to make a portrait of someone. Jump on them quickly. The more consistent you can become in doing this, the more successful you will be. Don’t let the negativity cloud your mind. Like opening a window shade in a darkened room on a sunny day. Let positive thoughts stream in like sunlight and repel the dark thoughts of fear and failure.

Begin to control your thoughts. Eliminate the negative and only entertain the positive. Your actions will become more automatic and relaxed. The more we do anything, the easier it becomes. Practice training your mind to replace the negative thoughts of fear of imposing with positive thoughts. Think about having a pleasant interaction with your chosen subject. Reinforce your initial ideas of why you’ve chosen to photograph them. Let your mind be filled with the intent to succeed.

My Growth Pains

Photographing my sister became fun. She even started to enjoy it. And loved the results.

My confidence began to slowly grow. Before long I was also photographing our small group of friends on social occasions and vacations. This became my new comfort zone. I could feel relaxed because my circle of friends was accepting of me and my camera.

Women standing on a rock at the beach

Then I traveled. I had a friend who was talking about going to Alaska. I can remember thinking I’d believe it when I saw him getting on the plane. Long story short … I ended up getting on the plane with him. I stopped in Canada and he continued north.

Spending a summer on Vancouver Island was an incredible way to start my overseas travels. Six weeks was enough and I needed to get moving. I’d been waiting for my friend to return as we had plans to hitchhike together. He didn’t arrive and I had no way of contacting him, (this was the ‘80s.) So I started out hitching on my own and about a month later flew out from Montreal to Paris.

From Paris I headed straight to The Netherlands. I was running short on funds and needed to find some work. Because my father was Dutch I also have nationality, so working there was my best option. Winter was also coming and I needed a place to stay warm. I had never experienced a northern winter.

Before winter was over I had to return to New Zealand. During my travels I’d been frugal with my picture taking. I wasn’t earning while I was in Canada and was traveling on a shoestring. In Holland I was working so could afford to buy film from time to time and have it processed. I even had the first exhibition of my photos while I was there. But the photos I took were mostly void of people.

Bicycle on ground covered with snow

I loved my travel experience even though I was well out of my comfort zone. But I’d not been bold enough to photograph people very often. Thinking back on some amazing experiences with some wonderful people I met along the way I regret not having photos of them. I wish I had made their portraits or even grabbed one or two candid frames.

I traveled about 5000km with Pierre across, Canada (my best ride ever,) and never made a single photograph of him. I’d love to have photos of the American girl I met while visiting Jim Morrison’s grave. She tore the pages out of her Lonely Planet book to give me directions as to how to hitchhike out of Paris. Or the immigration official at the Belgian border, (yes, this was 1986, before the EU was formed.) He asked me to point to New Zealand on the world map because he did not know where it was.

If you’ve enjoyed this article and would like to read more, please join my mailing list. You’ll be notified when my book is published and can enrol in my free photography course when you sign up.

Sorry that there’s no EXIF data on any of these photos. They’re all from scanned slides and too old to remember my settings or what my film stock was.

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Further Reading

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post you will also enjoy “How I Made the Most of a Great Photography Opportunity” and “How Frightening it is to Reach the Top.”

How to Make the Most of Depth of Field

by
Kevin Landwer-Johan

Depth of field (DOF) is the part of your composition which is acceptably in focus. Knowing how to control it is essential if you want to make the most of it.

Having too little or too much of you photo in focus can mean it does not have the impact and meaning that you intended. Too much focus means your subject may be lost in the background. Too little focus may mean relevant visual information is lost to the viewer. Carefully controlled it can make your images pop.

Buddhist monk in a tricycle taxi
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 50mm, Settings: f1.4, 1/1600 sec, ISO 400

How to Control Depth of Field

DOF varies depending on a number of different factors. These are:

  • Aperture setting
  • Lens focal length
  • Sensor size
  • Distance from camera to subject and distance of subject to background, (assuming your focus point it on your subject.)

Aperture setting is most commonly associated with controlling the DOF. It does, but not on its own, these other factors have an influence as well.

The wider your aperture setting, (the lower your f-stop number) the less you will have in focus. The narrower your aperture, (the larger f-stop number,) the more you will have in focus. Lenses with wider aperture settings like f2.8 and below are more capable of achieving a very narrow DOF.

Using a wide angle lens more will appear in focus at any given aperture setting than when you use a longer lens. The longer the lens, the shallower the DOF appears.

Sensors of larger physical dimensions, (not megapixel count but actual size,) have a shallower DOF with any lens and aperture setting than cameras with smaller sensors. This is why it is easier for a full frame camera to produce photos with a shallow DOF and less so with a compact camera or a phone. This is because the sensors in compacts and phones are so much smaller.

Hand Made Tricycle Taxi Decoration taken during a Chiang Mai Photo Workshop
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f2.8, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400

The closer your camera is to your subject the shallower the DOF will be. When you are taking macro photos you need to use a narrower aperture to achieve enough DOF.

The further your background is from your subject that you are focused on the more blurred it will appear. A background close to a subject will appear sharper than one further away. If you want to achieve a blurred background move your subject further away from it.

All these factors work together to control DOF. You can decide how much or how little of your photos are in focus by controlling each of them. Sometimes you will want to have everything in focus. The easiest way to do this is with a wide angle lens and a high f-stop number. Other times you may want your subject in sharp focus and your background blurred. The easiest way to achieve this is with a full frame camera with a telephoto prime or zoom with an aperture that opens up to at least f/2.8

Tricycle Taxi Rider Portrait taken during a Chiang Mai Photography Workshop

When You Want It All In Focus

Landscape photographers often prefer to work with wide lenses. This allows them to frame more in their compositions, but it also allows them to have sharper looking photos. A wide lens used with a narrow aperture will produce photos which are mostly sharp.

This is also why landscape photographers often use a tripod. With a very narrow aperture it’s necessary to use a slower shutter speed or high ISO. A higher ISO will produce a lower quality image so using a tripod is a better option.

The longer the focal length lens you use the more difficult it is to have everything in your composition sharp. The further you are from your subject, the sharper it may be, but this is not always practical.

If you have more than one camera and they have different sensor sizes, use the camera with the smaller sensor to achieve a deeper DOF.

Street photographers often prefer to work with wide lenses, smaller cameras with smaller sensors and narrower aperture. The nature of street photography often involves stealthy photography and moving subjects. The greater DOF you can achieve the greater likelihood you will capture your subject in acceptable focus.

Tricycle Taxi In The Market taken during a Chiang Mai Photography Workshop
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f4, 1/1250 sec, ISO 400

When You Want A Shallow DOF

Using a shallow DOF you can isolate your subject and draw attention to it. Whenever you have a distracting background that has no relevance to the picture you want to make, use a shallow DOF.

Often this is best achieved with a wide aperture setting, but not always. Sometimes you will not have enough of your subject sufficiently sharp. The background may look fabulously soft, but so may some of your subject.

Knowing how your lenses respond at different aperture settings and distances from your subject is helpful. If you can get in close with a 35mm lens and set it at f/4.5, it may be better than using a longer lens or a wider aperture. Pay attention to how much of you subject is in focus and how soft your background is.

Moving your subject further from the background is another way you can keep all of your subject sharp and have your background blurred. The further from the background your subject is the more blurry the background will be.

Tricycle Taxi Rider Detail taken during a Chiang Mai Photography Workshop
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f4.5, 1/500 sec, ISO 400

When Finding the Balance is Best

Sometimes you want to show a little background. This is particularly important in photos like environmental portraits.

When you have a main subject and their surroundings are part of the story you are telling, it’s good to be able to see them. If they are too sharp, they may still distract. By making careful choices about DOF you will be able to control it so enough detail is discernible without being distracting.

For this portrait of the tricycle taxi rider, I wanted him to be the main focus. In this location the background is traffic in the street and billboards. It’s not really attractive or meaningful to a portrait like this.

Tricycle Taixs Action Portrait taken during a Chiang Mai Photo Workshop
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 50mm, Settings: f1.4, 1/1250 sec, ISO 100

I got lucky. Just as I had set my exposure, another rider was passing in the background. I positioned myself suitably. For this photo I wanted the other rider to be not too blurry as he made a perfect addition to the background.

If he had been more blurred it would not be plain to see that it was another tricycle taxi. If the taxi and rider had been more in focus they would have distracted from my main subject.

Making the Most of DOF

Using manual exposure mode you have control over your aperture setting and the shutter speed. Aperture priority mode is another option you can use if you have not stepped into using manual mode yet. Aperture priority allows you to set the aperture and the camera will choose the shutter speed.

Consider what lens you are using. The more familiar with your lenses, the easier you will know how your photos will look are any given distance from your subject. This is one reason I love using prime lenses because they are easier to get a feel for.

The most important thing is to be aware of how each different factor is affecting your DOF and you being in control of it.

Tricycle Taxi Rider in Thailand taken during a Chiang Mai Photo Workshop
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 50mm, Settings: f5.6, 1/250 sec, ISO 400
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Further Reading

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post you will also enjoy “How To Overcome Unwanted Motion Blur in Your Photos” and “Stop! What Is That?”

Why Shy Photographers Can Actually Make the Best Portraits

by
Kevin Landwer-Johan

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” – Edward Steichen

Shy people are uncomfortable in front of the camera. They do not like being photographed. They don’t like seeing their portrait.

When we’re uncomfortable it shows in our face. This is the reason you will not like your portrait if you are shy. Because while the picture was being taken you were uneasy. The tension is revealed in your face and evident when you see the photo.

If you are a shy photographer, you can actually make the best portraits. Because you understand how to use your shyness empathetically. You know how it feels to be uncomfortable being photographed. You can use your experience to encourage your subjects to relax. You can show them how to enjoy the process of having their portrait made. This way you will be more successful. They will love the wonderful portraits you make for them.

Young Man Wearing Glasses Why Shy Photographers Can Actually Make the Best Portraits
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f4, 1/100 sec, ISO 100

How Not To Avoid Photographing People

These are thoughts shared from many years of personal experience. Here I’m sharing a few encouraging ideas. I am currently editing my book “How Not To Avoid Photographing People.” In it, I expand on these thoughts and others in much greater depth.

I was very shy as a teenager. There are not very many photos of me from that time. After buying my first camera I came to realize I should photograph people. At the start, I didn’t. I couldn’t. It was too difficult.

Now I’m primarily a people photographer. And I probably don’t take enough candid people photos. I like to engage with the people I am photographing. I’ve written this book, and this article, to encourage you why it’s best to connect with the people you are photographing. I know this is not easy for most people, so I will share with you what I have learned.

Ice Cream Addict Why Shy Photographers Can Actually Make the Best Portraits
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 105mm, Settings: f9, 1/200 sec, ISO 100

Light, Camera, Communication

Without light or a camera, you cannot take a photo. Without good communication, you are never going to make the best portraits.

Connecting well with your subject and helping them to be an integral part of the process is essential. This is one of the most common problems I see in portraits. That the photographer has not made a meaningful connection with their subject.

You know those photos when the person is looking back at the camera with a blank, bored look on their face. Or looking rather confused. This is a good sign the photographer is fiddling around with their camera.

Engaging your subject in conversation, holding their attention produces far better results. Giving all your attention to your camera does not make for great portraits.

Be prepared so you aren’t focused only on your camera. Have the settings ready. Understand the lighting and where the best background will be. Having confidence in using your camera will give you the freedom to communicate well with your subject.

When you’re taking someone’s photo you don’t want to leave them looking at the top of your head as you peer down at your camera. With your camera ready you will be able to look at them and talk together. This will prepare your subject. They are more likely to relax and be confident in what you are doing.

Why Shy Photographers Can Actually Make the Best Portraits Blonde Dreadlocks
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 105mm, Settings: f9, 1/200 sec, ISO 100

Choose Who To Photograph

The easiest people to photograph are the ones who enjoy it. For some people, it’s not difficult to relax in front of a camera. For others, it’s very challenging.

When you’re starting out as a photographer you’ll find more success taking photos of people who like it. You’ll have less work to do and this will build your confidence. Both you and your subject will be happier with the results.

Find someone who wants to be photographed. Plan to take their picture on many different occasions. Getting together with them a few times will help build your skills at communicating.

Picking people who are uncomfortable with having their portrait made means you have a lot more to do. You must communicate with them in such a way that they will relax. But this is not easy. Learning this skill took me many years and I still am not consistent 100% of the time.

Kevin Landwer-Johan and model with ice cream Why Shy Photographers Can Actually Make the Best Portraits
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 105mm, Settings: f9, 1/200 sec, ISO 400

The Candid Option

Candid photos of people can be superb. However, you must choose your situations. Taking candid photos only because you are too shy to engage with someone is rarely the best option.

Candid photos work best when the person is busy doing something. If you disturb them they might change their focus from what they are engaged in. This usually results in them focusing more on you and not what they are doing.

Timing is important for candid photos. You must watch and choose the best moment to take your photographs. Look at the person and see what’s happening. Try not to catch them at an awkward moment.

Making a few candid photos is a good lead up to taking photos where you connect with the person and have them more posed. Once you’ve taken a few good candid images you can show the person their photo. Often they will love what you have done and will be more relaxed when you engage with them. This is the right time to take some more photos when they are aware of you.

Candid photos do not have to be made with a long lens from a distance. There are some great ways to get close to people and still take photos when they are not paying attention to you. I share some of these techniques in my new book, “How Not To Avoid Photographing People.”

Using a long lens works well, but there’s rarely a sense of connection with this type of photo. The further you are from someone the more detached the photos will look.

Robert Capa, a famous photojournalist, said, “If your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” This can be taken to mean two different things. If you are not physically close enough, or if you are not relationally close enough.

Spinning Dancer Why Shy Photographers Can Actually Make the Best Portraits
Camera: Nikon D700, Lens: 110mm, Settings: f3.2, 1/8 sec, ISO 800

Building Your Confidence to Photograph People

For shy people, the prospect of photographing someone else can be daunting. Our lives are made more special by the people in them. How we relate to each other enriches our lives. So it makes good sense to want to take pictures of people. Right?

Start slowly. Start easily. Before you’re ready to begin setting up posed photos, make candid photos of people.

Begin where you are comfortable. If you are relaxed and not worried about imposing on the people you will be more creative. You will take better photos.

Attaching a long lens to your camera and remaining at some distance from your subject you will feel better.

How the Zone System Can Help You Expose Your Photos Better Black and White Butcher Portrait
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f2.5, 1/100 sec, ISO 400

Don’t Just Take Their Picture

Paul Caponigro is a photographer known for his still life and landscape photography. He had this insight into photographing people. “It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”

Be intent on capturing who they are. This will make a portrait far more interesting and unique. Take your time to observe who you are photographing. What is it about them that you want to photograph? Why do you want to take their picture? Try to express this and you will produce compelling portraits.

Shy people find this difficult. I know this from my own experience. This is why I have written a book on the topic. I had to learn the hard way.

My photography career started as an office assistant in the photojournalism section of a daily newspaper. I learned that if I wanted to progress through the ranks, I would need to learn to connect with people. Strangers, not people who I already knew and was comfortable being around.

Most photographers will not have this pressure to help them learn. I’ve written down my thoughts on how I developed my love of photographing people. It’s my hope they will encourage many shy people to learn to love it too.

If you can relate to the fear of not wanting to impose on people, or have other reasons you don’t, this book is for you. Sign up here and receive my newsletter and free course on learning to use your camera. You’ll be notified in my newsletter when I publish my new book.

Further Reading

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post you will also enjoy “Learning How to Photograph People [Book Excerpt]”

Five Key Things All The Best Photos Have In Common​

by
Kevin Landwer-Johan

What are the Qualities of

A Good Photograph?

The qualities of a good photograph will be evident when the following elements are well executed in the picture:

  • Light/Exposure
  • Composition
  • Color/Tone
  • Timing
  • Relationship

These are the five things the best photos have in common. You might choose to photograph the most amazing subject, but if these elements are lacking the photo does not contain the qualities of a good photograph. It will not captivate the viewer. The greater the degree of skill with which these elements are represented in a photograph the more attractive it will be – regardless of the subject.

This article is written with a focus on what the qualities of a good photograph are. It has very little reference to post-processing and the results this has on our photos. I will at times use example photos and at other times I will not. I want readers to practice visualizing photographs.

Pwo KarenPipe Smoker

5 Elements of Good Photographs

Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘how’, while others of a more curious nature will ask ‘why’. Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.” Man Ray, a visual artist most well known for his photography.

Everybody with a camera wants to take better photos, even seasoned professionals I know, (including myself.) We want to take better photos than we have previously taken. If you are reading this then I guess you are one of us who want to take better photos. We must ask “What are the qualities of a good photograph?” “How do we create better photos?” “What are the secrets of better photography? Good questions!”

Is the Subject One of the

Main Qualities of a Good Photograph?

Your subject is your choice. It might be a sunset? A pretty woman? A handsome guy? An athlete at their pinnacle moment breaking a world record? An iconic celebrity getting caught off guard pulling a funny face? A tiger about to pounce on its prey? A beautiful landscape? Any of these might be great photos, but, without certain photographic elements, you might not look twice at any of them.

Two Thai models in traditional clothing qualities of a good photograph
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 105mm, Settings: f3.2, 1/400 sec, ISO 500

Our choice and taste in subjects to photograph is naturally incredibly varied. During this discussion I will aim to be reasonably generic concerning subject material. I wish to focus more on the qualities of a good photograph. The other elements a photo needs rather than focusing on what makes interesting and/or beautiful subjects.

Qualities of a good photograph of interesting/beautiful subjects are:

  • Great Lighting + Careful Exposure

  • Engaging Composition.

  • Careful Timing.

  • Pleasing color and/or tone range.

When we have an interesting subject to photograph, each of these elements can be studied and applied with a technical ‘correctness’. Creating pictures with such technique results will show qualities of a good photograph. But there is another important quality to factor into what makes a good photo unique. I’ll address it later in this article. First, let’s take a look at these four elements.

Integrating these elements into a single image is challenging. Learning to understand each of these qualities of a good photograph and their relationships will enable us to become better photographers. Sure, there are other aspects to creating good photos, but I believe these four, (plus one,) elements form the basis of good photographs.

Akha women picking tea in Doi Mae Salong, Thailand.
Camera: Nikon D200, Lens: 22mm, Settings: f5.6, 1/160 sec, ISO 100

1. Great Lighting + Careful Exposure

“Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” – George Eastman, founder of Kodak.

Light is the substance and essence of photography, not of photographs, but of photography. It is one of the essential qualities of a good photograph. Where there is no light it is impossible to make a photograph. Light is the raw material of photography. We are all very familiar with light and have been aware of it since before we were born. For most people awareness of light remains in their subconscious. They don’t really think about it. If we want to become truly creative photographers we must begin to consider light with our conscious minds.

The word ‘photography’ comes from the Greek language. Phōtós means light and gráphō meaning writing/drawing, so, together the meaning is drawing/writing, with light. To me photography is largely about storytelling. We use light to tell a story with our images.

Thai Mountain Sunrise during a custom Chiang Mai Photo Workshop
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 105mm, Settings: f8, 1/250 sec, ISO 400

Since I bought my first camera I’ve known the more I can ‘see’ and understand light and have a feeling for it, the better photographer I will become. Being able to recognize differences in lighting conditions aids us immensely as photographers. Superb light is one of the definitive qualities of a good photograph.

I do not subscribe to the popular belief that light in the middle of the day is not good for photography. If we’re out with our cameras on a summer’s day and the sun is high in the sky we can still make great photos! Wherever there is light you can make photographs, learning to manage the light, and your exposure, will determine in part the qualities of a good photograph. Some subjects and locations will inevitably photograph better in some light than others so we must learn to anticipate the lighting conditions and plan to shoot when the light is best for the type of photographs we wish to create.

Two Categories of Light

To help us understand light and how it affects the photographic process we can put it in two categories, ‘hard’ light and ‘soft’ light. Hard light originates from an apparently small source, is relatively bright and casts a shadow with hard edges. Soft light generally originates from an apparently large light source and casts shadows with soft edges or no shadow at all.

I say ‘apparently’ when I am talking about light sources because the distance the light is from our subject and the strength of the light must be considered. The sun on a cloudless day, for example, is a hard light source. Light from the sun casts hard shadows. Even though the sun is a huge light source, because it is so far away, it is apparently small. On a cloudy day we will see soft or no shadows because the clouds diffuse the sun’s light, scattering it and making it softer. Even though the clouds affecting the light are tiny compared to the size of the sun, because they are closer to our subject they create an apparently large light source.

Where there is more than one light source and/or reflected light affecting our subject, this will have an influence on how hard or how soft the light appears. The relative brightness of each light source and location of the light source also has a significant effect on how we see our subject and how our camera will record it.

In situations with hard light, on a sunny day, using our camera’s exposure meter set to ‘spot meter’ taking a reading from the brightest part of our composition, we might get a reading of 1/250th sec, f16 at ISO 100. Taking a reading from the darkest part of the same composition we might get a reading of 1/60th sec, f2.8 at ISO 100. That’s a seven stop difference. Most cameras will not be able to produce acceptably well exposed detail in both the highlight and the shadows. Because of this limitation we need to be more creative to produce good photos in these conditions. We must be more creative in our exposure and composition.

Photographers often prefer to shoot in softer, rather than harder light because camera sensors and film have a limited ability to record detail at the extreme dark and extreme bright ends of the tonal range produced by hard light. If we were to take an exposure reading of the same composition mentioned previously on a cloudy day we would get results showing a lower contrast range. We might get a reading from the brightest part of the composition of 1/60th sec, f8 at ISO 100. Taking a reading from the darkest part of the same composition we might get a reading of 1/60th sec, f2.8 at ISO 100. That’s a three stop difference and well within the capability of most digital cameras to produce an acceptably well exposed image with detail in the brightest and darkest parts of the composition.

Making photographs where the light is softer, with a narrower dynamic range, affords us a greater flexibility, and is generally easier, as we are able to capture more well exposed detail. But easy isn’t always best and we will not always want to see all the detail. I believe it’s possible to make our best photos when we are able to light our subject with me most appropriate light source for the style of photograph we want to create.

Photo #1. Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f2.8, 1/8000 sec, ISO 400
Photo #2. Camera: Nikon D300, Lens: 50mm, Settings: f5.6, 1/60 sec, ISO 640

My favorite example I like to share to illustrate this is my two photos of the same Buddha statue taken on different days. Photo #01 was made at 3 pm on a sunny October day at Wat Umong in Chiang Mai, Thailand. My shutter speed was 1/8000th sec, aperture was set to f2.8 and ISO was 400. Photo #02 was made at 2:15 pm on an overcast day in June at the same location. My shutter speed was 1/60th sec, the aperture was set to f5.6 and ISO was 640.

Photo #02 reveals far more detail across the whole composition with a tone that fits well within my Nikon D800’s dynamic range. Nice subject, but it’s pretty boring. Photo #01 where the tonal difference is vast and obviously reaches far beyond my camera’s dynamic range is a much more satisfying photograph. Photo #01 displays more qualities of a good photograph than Photo #02.

The relationship between the light and the subject is highly significant. Some subjects will photograph better under hard light, others will not. Some subjects will photograph well under either hard or soft light, just returning significantly different images. For example, a landscape might appear vibrant and alive when photographed on a sunny day, creating a warm and inviting image. The same landscape photographed early in the day, before sunrise, when the light is flat and dull with very little contrast, might appear more sullen and drab, but still result in a pleasing image, just one with a very different mood.

Not Just Black + White

Variation in light between the hardest and softest is immense and it’s within this range and variation we must find the most pleasing light to create our photographs, with what ever subjects we choose.

Photographing with a single light source with little or no reflection we are somewhat limited in the options we have. Our light will be hard or soft. Once we introduce more than one light source or make use of reflected light to affect our subject, then our creative options become far more diverse. By adding light from alternative angles and any manner of sources (soft or hard,) we are able to manipulate the tone range within our photographs.

If we are making a portrait of a person outdoors in the middle of a sunny day using only the sun as our light source and no reflector, we will be faced with some challenges. We can have our subject stand facing the sun, which will result in dark shadows around their eyes and under their nose and chin. They will also be squinting their eyes. If we turn them sideways any degree we will have some of their face in shadow and some in the sunlight. If we stand them with their back to the sun we will have even light on their face but may encounter problems with the sun’s light flaring in our lens, an over exposed background and possibly some color cast reflecting in their face. If we were to introduce even one more well placed light or reflector our options broaden as the tone range in our composition will be narrower, (because the shadows would be diminished by the additional light,) and our camera will more easily capture a fuller dynamic range of tone and the shadows will be .

Many factors affect the quality of light. The more we are able to see and appreciate the light we have to work with when we are making photographs the more creative we can be and the more they will display the qualities of a good photograph.

2. Engaging Composition.

“Now, to consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravity before going for a walk.” Edward Weston, photographer.

Composition is how we arrange the elements within the frame of our photograph. It’s about what we include within our frame and what we leave out. We can control our compositions by our choice of lens, our point of view from where we take our photograph and sometimes by moving the physical elements we are photographing. Composition is another one of the essential qualities of a good photograph.

Rules of composition can be studied and used rigidly or as guidelines when we look through our camera’s view finder or at its monitor. But following these rules does not always produce the most engaging compositions. The more we can incorporate our chosen subject material within the four corners of our frame so everything we choose to show is a meaningful part and suitably balanced, the more engaging our compositions will be – regardless of whether we follow the rules or not. I hope this does not sound too abstract! Let me explain …

Using the rule of thirds, drawing the viewer’s eye to our photo’s subject with leading lines, lining up your camera so your subject is framed perfectly symmetrical and other learned techniques will give us well composed images when we can apply these techniques meaningfully. But using the rules of composition just because we think we have to will not necessarily mean we are creating engaging photographs. Truly creative composition does not come about by merely applying a few rules and techniques.

If we are trying to apply some compositional rule to an image we are creating and stick to it rigidly, because think we must, we may find other aspects of our photograph will suffer and the end result will be unattractive. For example, if we have a subject framed up and there’s a strong leading line drawing our eye to the subject, but there’s a distracting background, then we’d be best to abandon the idea of using the leading line and explore other possibilities to compose our photo. If we are constantly looking for situations we might be able to apply the rules we’ve learned, we may well miss seeing what could make the best photos. I rarely will think of composition before I have selected a subject and I occasionally continuously think of compositional rules to apply when I am taking photos.

Many photography teachers expound the benefits of the rules of composition and then tell you to break them. I would encourage you to learn the rules so well you can put them into practice subconsciously, so you can make use of them in your photography most creatively.

Samlor Rider with his tricycle in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 50mm, Settings: f5.6, 1/250 sec, ISO 400

Why Do We Have These Rules?

Compositional rules have been developed over the centuries traditionally by painters. These rules have been tested and applied by students and the great masters with their paint brushes on their canvas. Our tools for creating pictures are significantly different, as is the amount of time we would typically take to create our pictures. Not many of us will spend years or hours to make a photograph the way a painter can. The qualities of a good painting will differ from the qualities of a good photograph.

Another significant difference to consider here is the ability a painter has to manipulate all of the elements they choose to include in their paintings. For example, they can pose a person in their studio in Paris for a portrait painting and for the background paint in the Sydney Opera House if they wish to. The painter is unbound from their location, as photographers we are bound to ours. Take note, I am not considering post processing here, this is only relevant to composing and shooting single photos with our cameras. Yes, it is possible if we are working in a photography studio or working with scale models to have a large degree of compositional control over what we include and exclude from our photographs, but I am talking broadly here as most photographers do not physically manipulate the subject matter of their photographs.

Painters, particularly those who paint with oil color, have infinite opportunity to compose and recompose their paintings. One day a painter might like the idea of including a building as a background to a portrait they are painting. The next day the painter could decide they don’t like it and paint over the building and replace it with a tree and a river. The painter has the ability to manipulate composition far more exhaustively than we as photographers do.

The rules of composition have developed over time with a different medium. As photographers we can adopt and adapt these rules to our advantage as we create images, but not separated from the other three elements I am discussing here. As we balance our compositions of our beautiful/interesting subjects with lighting, timing, color and tone we will be creating engaging photographs.

3. Careful Timing

“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.” Henri Cartier-Bresson, photographer.

Henri Cartier-Bresson’s famous term (and book title) ‘The Decisive Moment‘ sums up what is regarded as another essential element in creating good photographs. The moment we choose to open our camera’s shutter has a significant influence on the qualities of a good photograph. Depending on our chosen subject this could be a split second decision or it may even take weeks and months of planning to finally reach the right moment.

Cartier-Bresson, regarded as the godfather of photojournalism and street photography, said: “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.” Cartier-Bresson didn’t do much landscape photography, so his reference to recognizing the fraction of a second is more relevant to his chosen genre of photography than it is to others. This, however, does not diminish the importance of careful timing throughout other photographic genres.

hot air balloons over Bagan, Myanmar qualities of a good photograph
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 105mm, Settings: f8, 1/250 sec, ISO 400

Hmong Kart Racing taken during a Chiang Mai Custom Photography Workshop Camera: Nikon D700, Lens: 180mm, Settings: f5.6, 1/400 sec, ISO 400[/caption]

Waking up early to arrive at a suitable vantage point when visiting Bagan to photograph the hot air balloons at sunrise, is important to capturing the decisive moment as is reacting quickly when something unexpected happens which makes an interesting photograph. Obviously, the urgency of timing my shot when the wheel from the cart came flying off is far different than on the morning I photographed the balloons at Bagan. With the balloons, as with any moving subjects, timing our shots when all the elements form an engaging composition is critical.

Ansel Adams, the famous American landscape photographer, was well known for carefully timing his photographs. He understood the qualities of a good photograph. He timed his work with the seasons and the sun. Choosing the optimal time of year and time of day, (or night,) when he knew he could achieve the most pleasing exposure. In his work we see careful timing in relationship to lighting and composition. Calculating the best time for the right light he could obtain all the tonal detail he desired in his stunning, large format, black and white photographs.

Anticipation and planning are two important factors in achieving well timed photographs in any genre. Not many remarkable action shots happen purely in the spur of the moment. There’s usually a certain amount of preparation. In sports photography the most successful photographers specialize. They will study their sport, they will know the teams, they will know the players and their style, so as best to anticipate how the action will be played out during the game or event. Wildlife photographers will research locations, track their ‘prey’, position themselves in concealed locations premeditating the arrival of the species they aim to photograph. Being prepared to capture the decisive moment usually takes far more effort than just bringing our cameras up to our eye and squeezing the shutter release.

It does not always need to be so complex. Our preparedness can be rather more casual depending on what we are photographing. Frequently when we take photography workshops at the local fresh markets I am capturing fleeting slices of life. We’ve been visiting the same markets for a number of years now and I’m used to the flow and rhythm of the place and it’s people so it’s easier to predict the action than when visiting for the first time. Whatever situations we find ourselves in to make photographs, it’s important to observe what’s happening around us and anticipate when the most interesting action to photograph will take place.

Composing our image in anticipation of the action we hope to capture is a method employed by most of the best street photographers and photojournalists. Finding a location that will afford us an interesting composition, with strong element to support our subject, good lighting and a pleasing background will inevitably help us produce more captivating photographs. There’s nothing wrong with shooting on the fly, but if we are able to incorporate as many of the four elements we are discussing into our photographs the more satisfying the results will be. Precise timing is certainly one of the qualities of a good photograph.

novice monk lights candles and is surround by smoke as he poses for photographers.
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 105mm, Settings: f2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO 1600

4. Resonant Color and/or Tone Range

“The ability to see the quality of color and it’s different relationships is an art, as well as a skill that must be honed through continual exercise.” Nevada Wier, travel photographer, and author.

Where light is the essence of photography, color, and tone, (tone only when we work in black and white,) are the expression of reflected light captured by our cameras. If light is the raw material of photography as flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and water are the raw materials of bread, color and tone are like the baked loaf of bread. Color and tone are what we see when we look at a photograph. In reality, we do not see light, we see what light is reflecting off, and this is represented by color and tone in our photographs.

Incorporating resonant color and/or tone into our photographs will result in better pictures. When we are looking to make photographs, seeing the color/tone within the frame of our composition is just as important as seeing the physical shapes and elements that make up our composition.

Referring to ‘resonant’ color in our photographs I am meaning color which affects the viewer because it is significantly incorporated into the photo. The same goes for ‘resonant’ tonal range in our black and white photos. These are further qualities of a good photograph.

Cream Rose Soft Tones filling the frame
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 180mm, Settings: f2.8, 1/160 sec, ISO 400

The color of this cream rose resonates a romantic, gentle softness. While the red rose is less subtle to our eye. Maybe we still see it as romantic, but not with the same gentle, softness of the cream rose. In both images color is the key element in how we perceive the flower.

Deep Red Rose close up filling the frame
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 105mm, Settings: f5, 1/100 sec, ISO 640

Rendering the same two images in black and white, see how the tone of each photo results in considerable differences.

black and white image of roses close up

As we incorporate a diversity of color into our photographs we must be aware of the relationships between the colors. Asking ourselves if the color in our frame supports the overall composition and makes a more interesting photo because of it. If we find the color we are seeing within our frame when we are lining a shot up is not pleasing we will need to recompose or consider rendering the image in black and white. If, for example, we were photographing a summer landscape and we have chosen to convey a soft, harmonious feeling with our photo, we must take care to ensure the colors within our frame support what we want to convey. Within this composition, which is made up predominantly of soft green and golden colors, if there were an object of contrasting color, say electric blue, we would need to move the object or recompose so as to exclude this object from our framing to ensure we are able to convey the desired harmonious feeling.

In another scenario the interruption of harmonious color may well be advantageous to us. If, for example, we were on our way to a football match and everyone in the crowd are wearing our home team’s signature bright yellow color. Then we come across a small group supporting the opposing team and they are wearing their team’s signature electric blue color. The contrast in color would add a rich dynamic and resonance to the photographs we could make of our experience of going to the football match.

In each of these two examples it would be unlikely we would consider rendering the images in black and white as the role the color plays in each photograph is fundamental to the feeling we want the photos to convey.

The absence of color in a photograph leaves a far greater reliance on the tones in the image to make it work. I found when I started shooting black and white, a few months after I bought my first camera, I began to appreciate how important it was to pay careful attention to the light. I started to understand tone.

Many photographers who work in black and white learn to visualize in black and white. Looking at a scene and disregarding the color as we think about it helps us to be conscious of how the light is affecting our composition. It does take some practice, but if you enjoy producing black and white photos it will be worth the effort.

Technical purists will tell that we must show a full tonal range, from black to white and a substantial variance of grays, in our black and white photographs for them to be acceptable. I don’t agree. I don’t believe a good photograph can only happen if it adheres to a set of technical rules. Shooting in hard light and exposing for the highlights can produce powerful black and white images with little or no grays at all. A lot of popular street photographers employ this technique very well.

As we develop our awareness of the tone range and colors we’ll be able to better frame our compositions and choose how we wish to expose our photographs. In doing this we are combining the qualities of a good photograph into one frame.

+ 1. Combining The Elements with Intuition

“Photography is the art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” Elliot Erwitt

abstract photo of a tricycle taxi in Chaing Mai, Thailand qualities of a good photograph
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 35mm, Settings: f4, 1/320 sec, ISO 100

As I stated previously, qualities of a good photograph can be very elusive and difficult to integrate into a single image. As we learn to look for these elements, appreciate them and incorporate them into our photographs we will see a marked improvement in our work. Implementing these techniques will be easier the more intimate we are with our camera equipment and become easier as we practice. In any form artistic expression has more impact the more the artist is familiar with and has practiced their technique and can create intuitively.

Knowing our camera intimately, how it functions, what dials to use to set the exposure well, (and understanding why we need to,) where the most essential settings are in the menus and when we are best to adjust them, will free us up to be more creative with our cameras. If our brains are pre-occupied trying to figure out how to use our spot meter so we can expose for the highlights, for example, we will be distracted from really connecting with what we are photographing and the situation. The more using our cameras becomes second nature, the freer we will be to connect with our subject and follow our intuition as we make our photographs.

The qualities of a good photograph tend to reach past visually obvious clichés and will stimulate a response from the viewer. I believe achieving this quality in our photographs depends very much on the relationship we have with our subject, whatever our subject may be. If we are distracted trying to figure out our camera settings we will not be so open to the environment we are in or be so ready to relate to who or what we wish to photograph. Once we have learned the technical functionality of our cameras we will be more ready to explore the way we see our subjects and begin to express our experience through our photographs.

Having learned to use our cameras so we can make well exposed photographs intuitively will free us up to focus on creating photographs that convey not just what we saw, but the way we saw and our experience of that moment in time.

If you have enjoy reading this essay and are interested to learn more, please take a look at our Online Photography Workshops or visit us in Thailand for a photography workshop.

Further Reading

If you’re heading to Chiang Mai take a look at my blog post Best Tested Tips for Travel Photography Etiquette in Thailand.

Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity woman taking a photo

How To Master Manual Mode
[Photography Tutorial]

by
Kevin Landwer-Johan

Mastering manual mode on your camera is not difficult. All you need is to learn how to manage three camera settings. A good photography tutorial teaches you this. Then you just need time to practice.

Master Your Camera – Master Your Creativity is an online photography course. It’s designed to teach you manual mode and how to be creative with it.

Learning photography for beginners may seem like a never-ending task. Truth be known, it is! I’ve been learning for over 35 years …  and love it. Getting to grips with the essentials is not difficult and can be learned quickly. You need to study a little and practice a lot. It will not take long before you can use your camera on manual mode with confidence.

Leanring Photography Together Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity

Master Your Camera – Master Your Creativity is an online photography course. It’s designed for beginners and intermediate photographers. This course will help you learn photography essentials. Whether you use a Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus or any other brand.

This manual mode photography tutorial is for:

  • Beginner photographers with a new camera
  • Intermediate photographers using auto modes

Manual Mode – Why Bother?

Photographers who never take any basic manual mode photography lessons generally get stuck on auto. Auto modes make things easy. You can concentrate on composition and timing and not worry about your exposure. Let the camera fix that.

The problem is the camera is not creative, you are. Letting the camera set your exposure will result in generic looking photographs. This is because that’s what your camera is programmed to do. Taking control of your exposure means your photography will be more creative.

Take a manual mode photography tutorial or course and you’ll discover what you can achieve with your camera.

Our eyes see differently than our cameras do. Your camera captures less tonal range than you can see. Understanding how to control this will give you freedom to create dynamic photos.

Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity Two Guys Learning Photography

How Does Your Camera Make Photographs?

Start with the essentials when you are studying photography skills and techniques. Learn a little about how your camera works. Then you will better understand what you are doing when you are changing the settings.

Digital cameras are complex pieces of equipment. They are crammed with features designed so you can take photos easily. Breaking the complexity down to the essential functions, our modern cameras are very similar to early cameras.

A camera is a box with a hole in it. The hole has a lens attached to it so you can focus the light and control the amount that enters the camera. Inside the box there’s a shutter to control the length of time light is allowed to affect the sensor. The sensor is behind the shutter. The sensor captures the image.

Master Your Camera – Master Your Creativity is a course to teach you practical photography skills and techniques. It begins with a foundation of how your camera works.

Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity  Street Photography

The Exposure Meter – A Vital Tool

Your camera has a built-in exposure meter, also known as a light meter. This tool shows you how much light there is and acts as a guide to set your exposure. You need to know how to read and use a light meter to make well-exposed photographs.

Exposure meters in modern cameras are complex. Knowing how to manage the light meter you can choose which part of your composition to expose well.

The light meter provides you with the information you need to be able to make good exposures.

Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity Happy Photographer taking a photography workshop

Live View vs Viewfinder

Using Live View mode you can gauge your exposure and adjust your settings manually. Looking through the viewfinder of your DSLR you will need to read the exposure meter display. Using live view, on most cameras, you are able to see the effects your adjustments have as you make them.

If you’re using a mirrorless camera you can also see the effects in the viewfinder because it’s electronic. With DSLR cameras, looking through the viewfinder you are seeing through the lens. With mirrorless cameras you are looking at a small monitor showing what the camera’s sensor is seeing.

Live View vs viewfinder is a modern debate. Many older photographers, (myself included,) prefer to use the viewfinder. It’s what we are used to. Younger or newer photographers find it easier to start using manual mode looking at the monitor. This is because it displays what the sensor will capture. Changes you make to your exposure display in real time. This means it’s very easy to understand what’s happening.

Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity

Understanding The Exposure Triangle

Cameras use three functions to control the amount of light which makes a photo. If there is too much or too little light the photo is overexposed or underexposed.

The aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are known together as the exposure triangle. You can adjust each of these manually, or you can let your camera make the changes for you.

Taking control of the exposure triangle gives you more creative flexibility. When the camera is allowed to control these settings it does so on preprogrammed calculations. On auto mode your camera will not always give you the exposure you want.

In manual mode you combine the information from your light meter and control your exposure triangle settings. You can make your photos look the way you want them to. Exposure meters are calibrated to see everything as a mid-gray tone. They do not discern if what you are pointing your camera at is black or white, they just see it as middle gray.

This is not a problem if all you ever want is bland, generic looking exposures. But I guess that’s not what you bought your camera for.

Each of the exposure triangle settings affects the look of your photos in other ways as well.

Read this article to learn more about controlling your exposures.

Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity Teaching photography

What Does the Aperture Do?

The aperture is a diaphragm in the lens. It adjusts to control the amount of light which enters, much like the iris in your eyes. The aperture also has an influence on the depth of field. This is the amount that’s in focus in your photos. Your aperture setting affects how blurred or sharp the background is.

Aperture settings are measured in f-stops. This is a weird series of numbers which represent the size of the opening. A low f-stop number, like f/2.8, allows a lot of light to enter the lens and creates a shallow depth of field. A high f-stop number, like f/16, allows less light to enter the lens and creates a deeper depth of field.

Your aperture settings affect your exposures and the look of your photos. Understanding this will help you master your creativity.

Understanding Motion Blur Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity

What Does Shutter Speed Do?

Shutter speed refers to the duration the shutter is open when you make an exposure. When you press the shutter release button the shutter opens and closes to a preset length of time. This is usually a fraction of a second. It can be set for seconds or even longer. The ‘B’ or ‘Bulb’ setting allows for the shutter to remain open as long as you like.

The longer the shutter remains open, the more light reaches the sensor.

When your shutter is opened and there’s movement within your composition you can control whether the motion looks sharp or blurred. Using a faster shutter speed you are more likely to get sharper photos. Setting the shutter speed slower may result in blurring. This depends on how fast the movement is and how slow your shutter speed is set.

Using motion blur in your photography can illustrate a greater sense of the movement.

Evening Photography Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity

What Does ISO Do?

ISO is the measurement of how responsive your camera’s sensor is to light. It means International Standards Organisation, which is not descriptive at all.

The more light there is the lower ISO setting you will use. When there’s not so much light, like inside a darkened room or at night, you will need to choose a higher ISO setting.

The higher the ISO you use the lower the quality of the image you will make. At higher ISO settings you will encounter the problem of digital noise. This appears as light and colored spots particularly in darker parts of photos.

The color and contrast quality is also affected when you use high ISO settings. More modern cameras produce better quality images when high ISO settings are used.

I use my ISO as a base setting for my exposure. I only change it when I need to and keep it as low as possible.

Teaching Photography Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity

Balancing Your Exposure Settings

Any manual mode photography tutorial needs to explain how to balance the settings. In Master Your Camera – Master Your Creativity I cover the details of how to manage your aperture, shutter speed and ISO over many lessons. You will learn how to make good decisions about adjusting your exposure settings.

At first it might be a bit confusing. But as you progress through the course and practice what you’re learning it becomes more natural. Practice using your camera every day. Choosing the best exposure settings will become second nature. You will find you can make the right changes without being totally conscious of what you’re doing.

Thai Traditional Models  Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity

Refine Your Photography Skills and Techniques

Once you are more comfortable with the basics of manual mode it’s good to learn to refine your photography skills and techniques.

Making the most of your camera’s light meter will help you improve your photography. Learning how to read the light well and make the best adjustments to your exposure triangle settings is vital.

Modern cameras and software technology gives us a lot of freedom to manipulate our photos. Capturing the best exposure while taking photos gives you more flexibility to post process them. If you have underexposed or overexposed your photo, you’ll be able to do less with it on your computer.

Dig into a deeper understanding of how your exposure meter works. Learn to control it well and you will become more accurate with your exposures. Exposure meters can read the light from across the whole composition or from specific parts of it. Learning to manage your metering well gives you far more potential for creatively exposed photographs.

Other tools are built into cameras to help you gauge how well you are setting your exposures. Some of these are used prior to taking your photos and some help you review pictures you’ve just taken.

The histogram and the highlights review tools will both help you see where you are having exposure problems.

 Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity

How To Choose the Best Shutter Speed

When there’s no movement in your composition, shutter speed choice is not so vital. When there’s something moving in your frame the length of time your shutter stays open influences how your photo looks.

The best shutter speed to use is on that will give you the look and feel of the photo you want. First, you must decide what you want.

Moving elements in photos can be rendered sharp using faster shutter speeds. They are blurred using slower speeds. The speed of the shutter and desired effect will be determined by the speed of your subject. A motorcycle moving fast will require a faster shutter speed than a person walking. The faster the movement, the faster shutter speed you need to use to freeze your subject.

 Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity

How To Choose the Best Aperture Setting

Isolating your subject from the background can make for more interesting photos. Choosing the right aperture setting and controlling other factors allows you to blur backgrounds.

It’s not only the aperture setting which controls the DOF, (how much of the photo is acceptably sharp.) The lens you use will also affect how much of the photo appears to be sharp. The longer the lens, the shallower the DOF appears. With wide angle lenses it’s much more difficult to create a blurred background.

The distance you are from your subject and your subject is from the background also has an effect on the DOF. The closer you are to your subject the shallower the DOF will be. The further your subject is from the background, the more blurred the background will be.

The best aperture for a shallow DOF is the widest setting you can use. If you’re close to your subject and it’s far from the background it’s easier to achieve the soft blurred look know as bokeh.

To include details in your whole composition, choose a narrower aperture. This will help you achieve the look you want. Using a wider lens will help also.

 Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity

Focus on What Matters

The most important part of your photograph needs to be in focus. It does not matter how soft your background is, if your subject is out of focus the photo is usually a failure.

Not even the whole of your subject needs to be in sharp focus, but the most important part does. How do you know the most important part of your composition? That’s entirely up to you to decide. This is part of your creative process.

Where do you want to draw the viewer’s attention? To a certain part of a landscape or still life? This is where your point of focus should be. Photographing anything with eyes the eyes should be in focus. If you can’t get both in focus, or don’t want them both in focus, pick the eye closest to you to focus on. This is one photography rule it’s good to follow.

Cameras have a multipoint autofocus setting. This is most often the default. The camera will decide what part of the composition to focus on.

There is another option. You can use a single point to control precisely where you want your lens to focus. This allows you much more accurate control. This is most important when you have a shallow DOF.

 Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity

Auto or Manual White Balance for Accurate Colors

The color, or color temperature, of light varies. Daylite can be warm and golden or cool and blue. Electric light temperatures vary greatly. Your camera must be set to know the color of the light otherwise the colors in your photos will not be accurate.

This is more important if you are saving your photos as .jpg files. You can easily alter the color balance on RAW files.

Mos to the time I have my camera set to auto white balance. It’s about the only auto feature I make consistent use of. The camera gets the correct balance most of the time. Because I always save RAW files I can alter the color temperature during post-production.

About the only time I do choose a manual white balance setting is when I am using studio strobes. The camera cannot predict the color temperature of the strobes so it’s best to set it your self.

 Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity Sunset Pagoda

RAW vs Jpeg Pros and Cons

Saving RAW files means your camera will keep all the image data it has recorded without altering it. Saving jpeg files some of the information is discarded as the image is compressed. The camera also makes applies some post-processing to the photo to make it look better.

RAW files never look great straight from the camera. They need some post-processing to make them look natural. This takes time. A jpeg file will need little, if any, post-processing. If the exposure or white balance settings on a jpeg file are not good, you won’t be able to fix them very well. This is because much of the image data is discarded when the camera saves the jpeg file.

If you want to be able to post process your photos it’s best to save RAW files. They will provide you the highest quality. If you want to use your photos straight from the camera and save time on post-processing, save your files as jpegs.

 Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity  Suan Sook rice Evening

Photography Tips and Techniques for Three Challenging Situations

No matter how proficient you become at using your camera, you’ll encounter challenging situations. To end my online photography class for beginners and intermediates I cover three such situations.

Backlighting, low lighting, and high contrast are all difficult to work with.

Backlighting can trick the cameras auto-exposure settings. Inexperienced photographers will often end up with their subject underexposed.

Low light is difficult, even for our eyes to see clearly. Our cameras must be carefully set to make consistently good photos when the light is low.

High contrast, when the highlights are bright and shadow areas are dark challenge your camera. Your eyes can see more tonal range than your camera can record. In high contrast lighting where you take your exposure reading from is more vital.

 Master Your Camera Maser Your Creativity

Learn Well From Basic Photography Lessons

I hope this article has encouraged you to want to learn more. Taking this online course on how to improve your photography skills will take you to the next level.

Once you’re enrolled in the course you have lifetime access to the lessons. You can revisit them as many times as you like. My teaching style is concise. The lessons are not long or bloated with unnecessary information.

I host my courses on the Teachable platform. All payments are made through their secure transaction system. There’s also a full 30-day money back guarantee. It also means the videos load fast and there are no server-side issues with bandwidth. The videos will play smoothly.

Each lesson has a worksheet and practical exercise to go with it. I have designed these so you can put what you have learned into practical experience. Doing this will ensure you remember what you learned.

No amount of study without practical application will make you a great photographer. You must practice. The more you practice, the faster you will improve. You will begin to understand better how to implement what you are learning in creative ways.

Please follow this link and enroll in Master Your Camera – Master Your Creativity today.

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