Online, photography is your handshake. Your photos emulate your brand, your style and the aesthetic that you’re trying to portray. Because of this, it’s so important that you put your best foot forward with the photography you share. And also why it’s so frustrating when you just can’t get it right.
We’ve all been there, unable to translate the image in our heads into what we want to see online. Which is why today, I’m sharing the common habits that get in our way when we’re shooting. The things we don’t always think about, but make a world of difference between delivering images that you love, and images you’re simply ‘okay’ with.
The Photography Habits That Aren’t Serving You
Not Paying Close Enough Attention to Your Shutter Speed
If you’re aiming for sharp images – then shutter speed is the component you need to pay attention to. Technically speaking, the faster your shutter speed, the sharper your images (especially if you’re either shooting handheld or a moving/living target). Personally, if I don’t have a tripod, I don’t shoot slower than 1/200 to ensure that my photos are constantly sharp.
If you’re using any mode outside of manual or shutter priority, then the camera will choose the shutter speed for you, so you will have to make sure you’re paying attention to that number because of this.
This rule doesn’t apply if you’re shooting night skies, scenery or scenes where you require a tripod. But for everyday shooting, where it’s just me and my camera, this is the rule I stick to.
Not Shooting in Natural Light
Natural light is the gold dust that brings your images to light. You’ll have seen so many photographers reference golden hour as the perfect time to shoot – and this again is because of the natural light. Whether you’re shooting near a window, or outside in daylight, natural light floods images and brings colours and textures to life.
In fact, light in general is what affects all photography and makes all the difference entirely. During almost all scenarios, Scott and I will only shoot in natural light – because the coverage, colour temperature and exposure is perfect for the photography style we aim for.
Or Not Shooting with Enough Light
In the same vein that shooting in natural light brings your photos to life, nothing kills them quicker than not shooting with enough light. Whether you’re cranking up the ISO, doing some heavy negotiating on the shutter speed/aperature, or just shooting in raw and hoping you can ‘fix it in post’. There is almost nothing as unattractive as the milky-sheen of a photo that was shot with not enough available light.
Last year, I invested and picked up this Neewer lighting kit from Amazon, with adjustable colour temperature so that regardless of what I was shooting indoors, (or even outdoors since they don’t require the mains to work) my photos would always be clean and sharp. When shooting indoors, a huge hurdle you have to deal with is colour temperature, as almost every bulb differs in temperature – and then those almost always differ from the natural light available to you.
One lesson I was taught when learning to shoot was to turn off all artificial light sources in the room that you’re shooting in, except the lighting you’re bringing with you. If you start with a blank slate, you can build your lighting from there and then toy with what does and does not give you the glow/hot spots you want in your images.
I talk more about colour temperature and shooting indoors in my two posts: The Photography Tip That Will Spark Your Instagram Growth and The Beginners Guide to Photography.
Skimping Over the Editing Process
Another heavily overlooked subject, the sheer amount of difference you can make when editing in post. Especially if you’ve shot your images in raw.
When you have access to the raw data that you’ve captured, you can essentially mould your images into almost anything that you can imagine. You can play with each layer, adjust all the lighting and even break your photographs down by each isolated colour. You really can’t overstate the importance of shooting in raw if you’re wanting to take your photography to a whole new level.
If you’re limiting yourself by simply shooting in jpeg, or only editing your photos via a phone, then I highly recommend you at least try editing in raw on a computer once so that you can see how much of a difference it makes.
Relying on Your Camera to Hit Focus for You
Autofocus. Sometimes it’s my best friend. Other times, I feel like kicking myself in the shins for relying on it. Scott and I have been burnt so many times by autofocus in the past that now it’s used very rarely, and only in specific circumstances (ha!).
Although it’s an incredibly intuitive tool, and depending on the camera you’re using and how you’ve configured it, can be the make or break of your shoots. The AF-points across your cameras sensor will track and focus on whatever it is seeing at the time, and although that can be fantastic, it can also ruin shots completely.
Instead, Scott and I find it easier to use a tool like focus peaking so that when we manually focus, we have a visual marker that indicates which parts of the image has been focused on. This won’t change as Scott presses the shutter button, which is something you can face when using autofocus. And we come away from the shoot knowing that every single image will be in crisp, pin-point sharpness because of it.
On almost all camera models that offer focus peaking, you can also change the peaking colour so that it doesn’t blend into the other colours in your scene. This is a great tool, and although it’s simple and intuitive, can go a long way to making sure you’re delivering the images that you’re proud of.
I hope you’ve found today’s post useful, and I’d love to know what your favourite things about photography are in the comments below. Photography is such a fantastic medium, and an image can share so much more than words can. To keep up to date with me, my photos and my blog, be sure to follow me on Instagram right here.
What’s your favourite thing about photography?
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