5 Unconventional & Easy Tips for Better Photos

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I've been painting since I was 16 and as of July 2020, I've spent 5 years doing photography with an iPhone and Fujifilm X10. In that time, I'd say, my photography has gotten better... I think so because it has attracted appreciation and community from artists and patrons I hold in high esteem.

I also think anyone can take good photos and want to offer five tips that will allow you to produce photos that will get better immediately and improve over time.

1. Know this: Your best camera is the one you carry around with you most, your cell phone! 

You have no excuse now. There's no shame in not using the most cutting edge or specialized technology. Just be honest about the technology you are using and people will respect your work for what it is.

While a wide angle lens may help with shooting nicely proportioned landscapes, it is harder to carry around all the time. Like any skill, you can only get better if you practice and you can only practice if you have a tool reliably handy.

2. Take multiple shots of a subject

Take 5-10 shots of the same subject.  A hand could shake or the light will change, or the slightest shift in angle may produce profound stylistic differences. Having more than one photo, affords you a set from which to select the best quality. 

Having a set to choose from also trains you for an editorial eye; because you have to pick from a pool of options, you are now making qualitative selections, you are curating! If you are curating, you automatically have taste and stylistic preferences; it will shape how you take your next set of photographs.

My guess is that behind every award winning photograph, there are 1000 photos that were not posted or printed. Below are some photosets I have selected from my own camera roll; out of all those photos, I only posted two to instagram.

3. Just press the button

Ignore the voices that say “they won’t like it”, “it won’t be any good”, “it’s trite”, “what’s the point?”. You can take a photo and decide not to share it but if you never take the photo, you will never have the choice.

Every snap is a point in your favor, an addition to your collection, an (potentially lucrative) asset, a stone in a path away from those awful voices.

4. Practice the quick draw || Deftly grab and turn camera on

This one time in Denver I was walking on the sidewalk to the grocery store and there was a woman walking a quarter of a block in front of me. She put her bags down, hiked up her dress and started peeing on the sidewalk. I reached for my phone and hesitated out of embarrassment.  I missed such a good shot because I was being too proper, me!

I have freedom of the press rights and will try never squander them again... I lost that shot to my antiquated sensibilities but I've lost others to slow mind-body response.

Take your phone out and try to access the camera 10 times, do it as fast as possible.  Practice this once in a while. By building up a little muscle memory, it becomes easier to pull a camera out to take a picture. The iPhone allows users to open the camera without unlocking the whole phone. Follow the below steps and see the pic.

1. On on an iPhone:
1. Tilt phone toward your face until the lock screen turns on
2. Place your thumb on the bottom edge of the screen and swipe up
3. press the camera button and take aim
4. This can also be done on the home screen

Screenshots of locked iPhone UI camera access flow - A demo by Nate DeWaele
I’m sorry Android users but I got nothin' for ya. But if you have device specific tricks, please share.

5. Share your pictures

A photo helps you articulate the way you see the world and your perspective counts. By sharing and articulating, you may learn things about yourself; find voice you didn't know you had.  Feedback on the photos can also be used to shape your message and improve your craft. The more you share, the more you start to see themes you might want to explore. Below is a screenshot of a pic I posted; the feedback I got from it certainly inspires me to keep an eye out for similar shots.  

A screenshot of one of Nate DeWaele's instagram posts with the comments - it demonstrates incentive and excitement for sharing


I hope these tips were helpful. I look forward to seeing your beautiful photos; you can share them with me on instagram

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