Ten golden rules for good photography

Follow these golden rules to improve your photography skills
Image courtesy: ©Volanthevist/Getty Images

Great pictures are the result of matching an interesting subject with the best light, a pleasing placement of the elements and exposing the sensor to just the right amount of light to translate the way you see the scene onto the camera’s sensor. It is how the photographer handles this combination of technical and creative skills at a particular moment in time that produces unique images and allows individuality to shine through. Here are ten golden rules, put them into practice to lift your photography to the next level of creativity and consistency.

Take control of the picture-taking process

Take control of the picture-taking process by learning the technical stuff so you can take your camera off the fully automatic or program settings. And get to know your gear so that the mechanics of taking a photograph become second nature.

Learn to see the transformative power of light

The ability of light to transform a subject or scene from the ordinary to the extraordinary is one of the most powerful tools at the photographer’s disposal. To be able to ‘see’ light and to understand how it translates onto the sensor and how it impacts on your compositions is the final building block in creating striking images.

Practise, practise, practise

Once you’ve got the technical stuff sorted, can work efficiently with your gear and can see the light; practise. You can photograph most of the subjects you’ll encounter while travelling in any town or city in the world, including your own.

Also Read: 7 best photography tips for amazing pictures

Also Read: The language of photography

Research & plan

Research and planning go a long way to getting you to the right place at the right time more often than not. The more time you have, the more opportunities you give yourself to photograph subjects in the best light. Photographers demand more time in a place than the average camera-toting tourist – sometimes just a few extra minutes can make all the difference.

Develop a picture-taking routine

Potential images abound – they will come and go in front of your eyes in a matter of seconds and are easily missed. A good routine plays a big part in helping you find great subjects and to react quickly enough to capture them.

Be patient & commit to the image

So much time creating good pictures is spent not actually taking pictures but incessantly looking, either on the move or standing around; watching, waiting. Very few really good photographs are the result of random, machine-gun-fire technique or accidently being in the right place at the right time. Plus, if you’re out and about you create the opportunity to come across fleeting moments. You will not get those ‘lucky’ pictures from your hotel room or bar stool.

Pay for photos only when it’s appropriate

In popular destinations you could be asked for money in return for taking a photo. This may be considered a fair and reasonable exchange by some or a tiresome annoyance by others, or it may simply discourage you from photographing people. Ultimately you’ll have to come up with a personal response. Certainly, don’t hand out money (or sweets, pens or anything else for that matter) if it’s not requested, but if it is be prepared to pay or walk away. From a photographer’s point of view it really comes down to how important or unique the potential image is.

Shoot raw files

If you want to get the very best results from your digital camera, capture your images using the raw file format, an option available on advanced compacts and DSLR cameras. Often described as a digital negative, it’s the format preferred by professional photographers.

Become proficient with image-editing software

Shooting raw files requires a considerable amount of post-capture computer time and more than a basic understanding of image-editing software. Raw files must be processed or converted before they can be opened in photo-editing programs. Cameras with raw file capture are sold with proprietary software for that purpose. Alternatively, you can use a third-party specialist raw-conversion program or most typically one that is included in your image-editing software.

Critique your photos objectively

With more pictures being taken and seen than ever before (that’s more pictures, not better pictures!), it’s important to take some time to critique your own photos in an objective way. This is not easy. We’re all emotionally attached to images we take and often enraptured by our own brilliance. Great – but if you want your pictures to stand out, a disciplined assessment of your pictures will give them the best chance of catching people’s attention and being appreciated.