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Stop Taking Pictures. Start Taking Photos.

A from-the-heart non-technical guide.

Pretty underwhelming, no?

1. Pick a Tree — Don’t Photograph the Entire Forest.

It’s human nature. We’re surrounded by an incredible landscape, and we want to capture all of it in one image. Yet, some of my most underwhelming photography has come from the most beautiful places. These incredible places make it all the harder to acknowledge that what looks good in person doesn’t look good in a photo.

2. Get close and pick a side. Especially with people.

Sometimes I’ll come across a book with genuinely interesting ideas which have been organized in such a baffling manner that I can’t make heads or tails of what the author is getting at. The content may be fine, but I’m left overwhelmed and feeling uneasy. This is normally the result of the author lacking either (a) a clear focus, or (b) a natural order for presenting their thoughts.

Professional selfies FTW
It’s the simple things that dramatically improve your photography

3. Make editing your photos fun enough that you’ll actually do it.

It’s no secret that editing photos can make a huge difference in the end result. Still, my disdain for Photoshop brought me to the point where I’d started to skip editing all together. Lightroom for desktop offers a more manageable alternative, but still requires a good bit of time dedicated to sitting down and working through photos (and plus it’s expensive!).

4. Be inspired

I am absolutely blown away every time I look at the photographs on Unsplash. There are literally thousands of people taking photos that will put mine to shame every time- and this is just wonderful. I have so much room to grow as a photographer and a constant flood of inspiration. I focus on two or three photographers whose work I like, and try to really understand why I like their work. I’ll explain this with two examples.

5. Create delight, not perfection.

Pictures capture pixel-perfect recreations of a moment. Photos aren’t supposed to be the perfect depiction of anything. They exist for delight.

Got your nose.

(6.) Share.

It’s no secret: people love looking at photos. Let’s see what you’ve made.

And if you’re looking for more detailed and technical guides, these two books have been invaluable for me:

Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson: The best all-around introduction to photography for any camera. Intuitive descriptions of aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and focal length, and how to make them work for you. This is a great starting place.



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