How to: Take a Better Photo
Updated: Mar 2, 2020
Shore Monthly regularly publishes photographs submitted by local photographers, both amateur and professional. Everyone is welcome to submit photos to this feature, “Through the Lens.” Caroline J. Phillips is a contributing photographer for Shore Monthly. She is a full-time photographer and filmmaker living on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She will be teaching a continuing education class about everyday photography at Chesapeake College in fall 2019. Here, she shares some advice to get started.
Formal classes, online tutorials, and camera clubs are all great ways to develop a foundation of photography knowledge. “There are a million different ways of learning,” Phillips said.
“For me, I encourage people to look at other people’s work and find their own perspective. That’s what will set you apart. Don’t mimic everyone you admire. It’s OK to have that inspiration but what you see every day can be inspiring to you, and if you take a picture of it, you’ll find someone who is inspired about it. Don’t think about the audience too much,” Phillips said. “Do what you like, and you’ll probably find those are your best pictures.”
“People ask me about equipment all the time, and I always ask people if they have an iPhone. … Your phone is so portable, and you can really learn how to find the light and the angles with this small piece of equipment.”
For photographers ready to take the next step, a digital single lens-reflex, more commonly called a DSLR, is a good option, as are mirrorless cameras.
Phillips said she doesn’t travel with her good camera unless she’s on assignment. Smart phones now allow depth-of-field.
Lighting and composition (how the photographer frames the image) are important. These are things to learn through classes, clubs, or online, and they take practice. “Once you know the rules, you can break them,” Phillips said.
Enhancing a photo can set your work apart, and it can be fun, Phillips said. Photo editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom, is helpful for editing photos on a computer. Numerous apps exist for editing photos right on a smart phone.
Connect and share
Share your photos and be open to feedback. Grab a friend and go for a walk with your cameras. “Just get out and take pictures,” Phillips said.
Tell a story
For those really interested in photography, try going out and finding a story that can be told with photos. Ask to take photos of a creative person’s process and tell that story through photos (with permission from the subject, of course). Look at magazines, Phillips advised. “That’s still the best way to see how a story is told through photos; it’s the best way to see that kind of story and the impact of photos.”