Street photography can provide some of the most engaging photos. So here are 10 of the best street photography destinations in the world…
1 Fez (Morocco)
This historic northeastern Moroccan city is one best locations in the world for street photography enthusiasts. Whilst the architecture is also of interest, for street photographers, nothing will beat wandering around the UNESCO World Heritage old town (or medina).
As you amble around the narrow maze-like passageways, you’ll be treated to locals going about their daily lives, artisans making products and shopkeepers haggling with shoppers on everything from carpets and souvenirs to pottery and lamps. The only challenge will be being able to capture sharp images as the narrow streets are fairly dark, so you will have to raise your ISO accordingly to have a fast enough shutter speed for handheld photography.
2 New Delhi (India)
3 Bangkok (Thailand)
The capital of Thailand might be famous for its temples and sky bars, but it is also a wonderful street photography destination. Walking along most streets will offer opportunities to photograph locals going about their day or even artisans and craftsman working in their shops. You will also see plenty of street food carts which are also great points of interest for street photographers.
But arguably, the best street photography location in Bangkok will be in Chinatown along Yaowarat Road in the Samphanthawong District. Visit at night and the neon signs will be shining bright and street food stalls and restaurants full of activity.
4 Hanoi (Vietnam)
Sitting along the Red River, Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam. Like most cities in this part of the world, you would expect plenty of street photography opportunities and you won’t be disappointed.
The Old Quarter is an explosion of activity and when you are not busy jumping out of the way of scooters, you’ll be looking in every direction for the next photo. What makes this location unique for street photography (besides the conical hats) is that the streets are busy from dawn to dusk. So you can shoot all day in a relatively small area.
5 Rome (Italy)
The Eternal City is one of the most significant cities in the history of western civilisation. So much of its influence can be seen across Europe. The city itself is beautiful and worth a photography visit.
But beyond its museums, historic buildings and magnificent food, Rome also offers fantastic street photography opportunities. Whether its people whizzing about on their motorbikes, or locals chatting over an espresso, you won’t be disappointed with your street photos from Rome. Especially as your backdrops might just be some of those stunning famous buildings that we all know so well.
6 New York (USA)
The Big Apple has always been a favourite location for photographers. Whether you are after cityscapes or food, NYC has it all. And naturally, it is also a great street photography location as well. From city executives on Wall Street to locals playing cards in Chinatown, New York is a city that is made for street photography.
7 Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Head to La Boca in Buenos Aries, and you can immerse yourself in two of Argentina’s biggest passions, tango and football! The colourful buildings will provide the backdrops for street performers who will go through their rendition of the tango. And when you have shot enough tango photos, turn your attention to football where street art of famous footballers and Argentina’s favourite player Diego Maradona is seemingly on every wall.
Just be very careful walking around La Boca alone as it’s a very dangerous place. My best advice would be to get yourself a local guide and be sure to leave before it’s dark!
8 London (England)
It may not be an obvious choice when it comes to street photography, but London is a great city for anyone who wants to look beyond the famous monuments. Head to the East End of London for those gritty and authentic street photography opportunities.
But even in the centre of London, there are plenty of places where you can capture unique street photos. For example, Leake Street graffiti tunnel, the skate park in Waterloo, the Southbank, Camden, Soho and even the passages in Neil’s Yard off Covent Garden are all great places to explore and capture very different photos of London.
9 Istanbul (Turkey)
Straddling two continents, Istanbul manages to offer both modern and old in the same city. The Old City is home to the famous and historic buildings that are so synonymous with this city. But there are also plenty of street photography possibilities.
One of the biggest and best places to visit is the Grand Bazaar which is one of the biggest and oldest covered markets in the world. Photography is challenging in the market due to the low light, but you will find that around most stalls there will be enough light for handheld photography at a fast enough shutter speed.
10 Havana (Cuba)
I have saved (possibly) the best street photography destination till last! No amount of time will be enough to capture everything that you possibly can in Havana. Every street in La Habana Vieja (Old Havana) is picturesque and there is always a photo opportunity.
But even beyond Old Havana, for a street photographer, the photos don’t stop. In fact, I firmly believe that you can simply stand on any given street corner and end up with a ton of great photos by the end of the day. The best advice I can give anyone for photographing Havana is to simply walk around and take your time. Oh, and to take plenty of memory cards!
Every picture tells a story and I’m passionate about telling stories and sharing my travel experiences through my landscape and travel photography websites.
Quite often, people ask me about what kind of camera gear I use to capture my images. Back in the 1970s, I started out shooting with a simple Olympus film camera. I am a photographer that doesn’t rely on a lot of fancy technical gear. There’s a lot of people that think that if you don’t have the perfect camera, the latest gear, or the best accessories, then you’re not ready to be an effective travel photographer. But, it’s not the tools that make the photographer. Tools simply help you to bring your ideas to life. If it’s my iPhone that’s in my pocket when I see the perfect shot – then that’s what I shoot with.
Having had the privilege of working with Canon Canada for 14 years, I’ve had a chance to meet and work with some incredible photographers. Their stories and experiences have changed the way I look at things. I’ve also had the privilege of trying out a lot of different types of travel photography equipment. Listed below are some ideas I’d like to share.
Travel Photography Cameras
So, what makes the best camera for travel photography? This is a complicated and constantly-evolving question to answer, but it’s probably a camera that allows you to capture great-quality images and doesn’t weigh a ton. Camera manufacturers are always changing their line-up with the latest and greatest features, but the things to look for in a good travel camera is image quality, long battery life, size and weight, simple to use, and that doesn’t cost a fortune. The most important thing about a travel camera is that it doesn’t get in your way of enjoying the adventure and at the same time delivers stunning images. The best travel camera for you is going to be very dependent on your needs and situation.
Fine Art Black & White Photography
I’ve gone through a number of camera bodies throughout the years but, for now, have settled on the Canon EOS 6D full-frame DSLR camera. I have investigated and tried mirrorless cameras, but because the weight wasn’t significantly less, I’ve stuck with what works for me and gets me great photos. The Canon 6D is one of the lightest weight DSLR cameras (1.7 pounds with the battery). The camera battery gives me decent life (if I’m not using GPS). The processor delivers enhanced noise reduction and exceptional processing speed, all in a compact body. Because if it’s compact size, it fits into my hand like a glove.
Camera Lenses for Travel Photography
Whilst it would be wonderful to have a large range of lenses to take with you on trips, the reality of travel is that you can only carry so much before you feel like a weighed-down camel. It’s better to try and focus on getting a smaller number of lenses that work well in a wide variety of situations. I personally use three lenses 99% of the time. When we consider travel photography, we capture landscapes, portraits, street scenes, architecture, and so on — all of these subjects require different lenses to be properly framed.
So, let’s look at a few lenses.
The “Do It All” Camera LensThe 24-70mm lens or 24-105mm lens is enormously versatile. The 24-105mm lens is the one I use mostly because of its versatility. It gives me a wide-angle to nearly telephoto range and allows me to capture large landscapes, close-up portraits, and everything else in between without having to change lenses. It’s a good size and doesn’t weigh a lot.
My Canon EF 24–105mm F/4L is II USM camera lens is a great general-purpose lens and was a great value when I purchased it with my 6D DSLR kit. If I could only take one lens while I’m hiking or biking, this is the one. AT 24mm, it is especially valuable for landscape photography and for capturing images in tight places. The 105mm focal length on the long end is really useful for a wide range of subjects, including portraits.
The Ultra Wide Zoom LensThe 16-35mm lens or something close to it is the ultimate go-to lens for a travel photographer looking to capture landscapes, cityscapes, or even internal building spaces. Not all wide-angle lenses are the same, so you need to do a little research. You want to make sure it creates sharp, beautiful images with little to no barrel distortion or fish-eye effect. Some lenses are better at this than others.I love my Canon 16-35 F/4L IS wide-angle lens and it has been popular with many landscape photographers. It’s an extremely sharp ultra-wide-angle zoom lens, delivering prime-grade image sharpness right into full-frame corners. A stellar-performing image stabilization system makes this lens a great lens. I can use it at the top of a windy mountain and shoot incredible quality, deep depth of field imagery without the use of a tripod. I had the Canon 11-24mm F/4L fisheye lens out in the field many times, but it was heavier and necessitated me carrying a larger camera bag.
The Telephoto LensHaving a good quality telephoto lens in your travel kit is a big plus for landscape photography. Sometimes you just need that tighter close-up shot to get more detailed photos. I would recommend a 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens because of its versatility. You can get a little longer, like a 100-400mm, but it adds weight and costs a lot more. The 70-200mm f/2.8L is what I use, but it’s also the heaviest lens in my kit.
I use Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM telephoto lens for my travel photography. This lens gives me an impressive image quality and focuses accurately very fast. It has a 4-stop image stabilization, weather sealing, and has become one of my favorite and most-used lenses. I love the image stabilization on this lens which helps me to obtain sharp images even while I’m hand-holding the camera.
So, for travel photography, it’s better to try and focus on getting a smaller number of lenses that work well in a wide variety of situations. That way, you are more likely to take them with you and use them.
Camera Bags for Travel Photography
There are a lot of camera bags on the market today and so many options to choose from. It can get a bit confusing trying to figure out which one is the best bag for travel photography. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, so you must do your research. Being a travel photographer means you have to look at not only size; but also… do you need one that’s completely waterproof, crush-proof, designed for climbing rocks as well as hiking? If you are swimming through the Zion Park Narrows – then that’s a completely different story.
The following are some questions to ask yourself:
Do I want the bag to be multi-functional so it can act as both a camera bag and a day pack?
Do I want to carry a laptop computer or tablet in the bag?
Do I need a trolley strap included so you can attach it to rolling luggage?
Camera backpacks are one of the most popular options for carrying around your gear, but you may also consider a shoulder bag. Sling bags that have one strap offer quick and easy access to a camera. Holster cases are designed to be used with a camera and a single lens if you want a lightweight option for biking. Spending money on the right bag to protect your gear is cheaper in the long run. So which bag is the best bag for you?
I think it’s best to take your gear to the store and try out a bunch of camera bags – that’s what I did. So, here’s what I use:
My Lowepro Classified 160 AW shoulder bag is great for one camera plus three lenses and goes with me everywhere. Plus, the bag is easy to store in overhead bins on a flight.
The Alta Access 28X shoulder bag is what I pull out when I have a few extra lenses to haul around. The bag effortlessly carries a professional gear kit which consists of my Canon 6D DSLR, 4-5 lenses (up to 70-200mm), a flash, and a multitude of accessories. It also is no problem to store in overhead bins on a flight.
I also use a Lowepro holster bag when I’m biking. It provides good protection in a small package for my camera and attached lens.
Other Useful Travel Photography Accessories
I highly recommend carrying a lightweight carbon fiber photography tripod. I love my Sirui T-025SK carbon fiber travel tripod. It’s super lightweight and folds up into a 12-inch length. It’s maybe not the sturdiest of tripods, but it’s so much easier to carry around when hiking and biking.
I also carry a circular polarizer filter which helps to reduce reflections and glare by filtering out light that has become polarized due to reflection from a non-metallic surface. It cuts down on certain types of light in a way that can benefit your images.
6 to 10 Stop ND filters can be really useful for landscape photography when you want to slow down your shutter speed to capture creative landscape photos.
Not Just Camera Gear
Besides camera gear, it is also important for travel photographers to dress properly to handle cold and stormy weather. When I’m out and about and the temperatures start falling, there’s nothing better than a great winter jacket. I love my Eider Men’s Lillehammer III Jacket with underarm air vents in case it gets really hot. Good, waterproof hiking boots and thick wool socks are critical. I have owned a pair of Guardo boots for about one year and love them. They’re stylish, comfy, warm, and have a super grip on slippery surfaces. I find that if you don’t want to get sick, keep your head, chest, and feet warm. This merino wool t-shirt is top quality and offers great warmth.
Travel photography isn’t just about making photographs; it’s about choosing a life of curiosity, exploration, and wonder… immersing yourself in the world around you. If you want to be an effective travel photographer, it is important to carry the right photography equipment and know how to use it. I hope you find these tips useful to get started. Do you have any questions? If so feel free to ask them in the comments below:
Having had the privilege of working with Canon Canada for 14 years, I’ve had a chance to meet & work with some incredible photographers and printing experts. Their stories and experiences have changed the way I look at things. Photography isn’t just about making photographs; it’s about choosing a life of curiosity, exploration, wonder, and immersing yourself in the world around you. Follow our adventures at – www.photographyadventures.ca and get your FREE e-book today – “5 Truly Amazing Places to Visit Before it’s too late!
You’ve decided you want to take the plunge and start selling your photos, so what’s the first step? Well, you want to begin with your core product -and that is of course your images
– Overview – Different types of customers & their image needs – Get to know image licensing – Best practices for selecting photos for your store – The best workflow tricks to select your images – Pricing
The process of taking an image and then selling that image are both very different and there are a few key points to consider before you jump into the world of selling photography.
First, you should consider what it is exactly you want to gain from selling your images, having goals in mind will help you stay accountable for the work you put in. How should also consider how you want your images to be used, and also, how you want to appear as a photographer – a lot of this will come from the images you choose to make available for sale and how your storefront appears to customers.
We recommend thinking about yourself those questions before you start looking through your images for what to sell, and getting your plans ready for your store.
The different types of customers & their image needs
A lot of the success from selling your images depends on the type of customer your photography is suitable for, and how you market to them. As we’ve mentioned above, the type of images sold for wall art tend to very different to images used for commercial or editorial use and it’s important to keep this in mind.
If you’re unsure about a particular market that your photography might cater to, or you want to sell your images to all types of customer that’s absolutely fine, and in fact, this is what most photographers do. It’s just worth noting the different types of customers, to ensure that your offering is the best it can be, and it’s also the best way to start thinking about how to select images.
Generally speaking, photography customers fall into these three types:
These customers purchase images for the purpose of ad campaigns, marketing collateral, products and so forth – basically anything that has a commercial objective associated with it.
Usually, commercial customers are be looking for technically sound, good-quality images that are a true representation of the subject. What we mean by this, is images that are natural-looking and haven’t had too many filters or edits applied to them. Commercial customers normally apply their own edits to fit with their campaign or product – so allowing them that flexibility will, ultimately, increase your chances of selling.
These are customers that will use license your images for things like magazines, book covers, online articles and so on. And similar to commercial customers, editorial customers generally need clean, neutral and natural-looking images that accurately represent the subject.
Top tips from the pros:
“Always think about editorial space – this is ‘empty’ or clean areas of images where text can be added for advertising and page layouts. For instance, if shooting a landscape format image, compose with the subject on one half of the frame rather than in the middle. For portrait format images, leave space above and below the subject.”
Private customers looking for images for personal use, usually for their wall can make up significant slice of a photographer’s revenue stream and it’s often an area that’s overlooked.
This is where you can be a bit more creative too, as generally, the more bold and striking your images are, the better they are for wall art. There’s still some general rules for what makes a good image for wall art, which you can read about in our dedicated guide.
Get to know image licensing
When you’re selling images in an online environment, whether that’s something you do of your own accord, or via an agency or library, you’re almost always going to be selling them on a licence basis.
Image licensing refers to the practice of selling a license to use your image in a specific way, rather than selling your photo outright to a buyer. It is the industry-standard method for selling photos for editorial, commercial and advertising use, as well as wall art in the form of a personal licence. Licenses typically take the form of an agreement which stipulates precisely the terms in which the buyer can use your image in return for the fee. Licenses are used to give you, as the photographer, greater control over how your images are used. They also protect your copyright.
So to clarify, when someone purchases a licence for your photo, it means that they cannot use the image in any way they wish, or claim the image as their own. They’ve bought a licence to use your photo in a specific way, not the image itself.
“When you’re selling images in an online environment, whether that’s something you do of your own accord, or via an agency or library, you’re almost always going to be selling them on a licence basis.”
Best practices for selecting photos for your store
Think about your buyers first
Taking the above information in mind, look through your images and ask yourself the question, who would buy that image? How might a customer use this image? Getting into this mindset will help you the best select your shots.
Less is more
While it can be tempting to include your entire library of images, you really want to be showing only your best work – it will make your offering stand out much more.
Having a finely-curated selection of images in your portfolio will show you’re careful and considerate about what you’re displaying. Browsing photography should be a pleasing experience for the viewer – nobody wants to sift through hundreds of images to find what they are looking for, you should be guiding their eye right away to what they should be buying.
It might take a bit of tough love to whittle down your images, and it can also take time, being able to critique your own photos is a skill to learn, but it’s important to do, and it will help you with your photography development. You should also ask your peers, friends and family for feedback and their thoughts too – having an objective eye on your images can be really refreshing.
But you still need a good number of images
While it pays to be selective with what you include in your portfolio, you also need to ensure that your image offering isn’t tiny. What we mean by this, is that it’s unrealistic to expect that having a portfolio or store with just a few images will reap huge rewards for you. The more (curated) photos on your site, the bigger the chance that you’ll have an image that connects with a buyer.
If you’re just starting out and only have a small number of images that you feel are your best, that’s fine–but if that’s the case, get out there and start shooting more so you can build up your portfolio.
Choose your most technically-sound images. Look at your shots at 100% to check they aren’t out of focus, blurry or have any other defects. Selling a bad quality image could easily land you with an unhappy customer, and repeat business might make up a significant amount of your revenue over time.
You also want to make sure that your images have a good level of sharpness. Also, make sure they are free of heavy noise artefacts, usually caused by high ISO settings.
Choose the biggest possible size for your images in terms of pixels as this will open up their selling potential. Larger images will allow for a greater scope of use, for example, larger print sizes. We’d recommend sticking to the original size of the image as much as possible.
If the original image size isn’t very large (as is the case with some smartphone images), you can use Photoshop’s Super Resolution feature to increase the image size without compromising on overall quality.
Customers, whether they are commercial, editorial or personal will expect your images to be authentic and a true representation of the scene. Keeping your edits small and simple, actually increases their commercial potential.
“Customers, whether they are commercial, editorial or personal will expect your images to be authentic and a true representation of the scene.”
Show off what makes you original
Your very best images should be what you display on your store and in your portfolio. The images that you are the most proud of, worked the hardest to get, those serendipitous moments – all should be included. Customers want to see what makes you and your work original. And with this in mind, being able to develop a unique style over time could help you immensely in the long run.
Work in series
If you work in lots of different photographic areas, or have images based on specific locations, subjects, or events – you should select and sort them based on their series (and subsequently display them as a set). Also, this way, if someone is looking for a specific type of image, you’re guiding them to a place with more similarly-themed images to browse and choose from!
Top tips from the professionals:
“Always capture images in both landscape and portrait format if it suits the subject; this gives buyers more options if they’re looking for a specific format.”
The best workflow tricks to help you select your images
Image editing programmes like Adobe Lightroom and CaptureOne are perfect for helping you identify what images you want to sell with their handy workflow tools, you’ll see a couple of them below. The following are specific to Lightroom, but they also aren’t dissimilar to other workflow programs and in general, will all follow the same processes.
Import all of your images & review in one place
This is the best way to start to go through all of the images you’ve taken; to help decide what you want to include in your store. Also, it’s always a good idea to take another look through your older images too, as you may find that you’ll discover some hidden gems you disregarded the last time round.
Create Lightroom Collections
Simply put, Collections in Lightroom are a way that you can group images into a set. In this case, you can use collections to group images, for example, based on your favorites, or images ideal for wall art, editorial or commercial use. This again will help you whittle down the images you want to include.
Use the Ratings system
This is where you can give your photos a star rating between 1 – 5, so for example, you can quickly and easily rate images a particular number to mark those you want to add to your store or portfolio. You can also sort views by ratings so you can see how all of your images look together.
Export your images in one go
When you’re ready to create the files to upload to your store and/ or portfolio you can export them to dedicated folders and locations which means you wont risk missing important settings for some of your files.
How to price your images
Choosing the price you want to sell your images is a very personal choice, and ultimately it’ll be down to you to decide. But it’s also worth doing some market research to make sure you’re not pricing yourself out of the market.
Look at other photographers who shoot similar subjects to you and see how they are pricing their images. It also helps to think about the lowest amount you would be happy with for your shots and work your way up from that figure.
That doesn’t mean you should be undervaluing your work, however, and sometimes photography should warrant a high price to reflect your hard work. Particularly if the image shows a rare subject, or if it was complex or challenging to photograph.
The photography world is ever-evolving and changing, so with this make sure you review your prices constantly too.
The Ultimate Guide to Selling Your Photography
Everything you need to know to start selling your photography online, drawn from decades of experience from industry leaders, professional photographers, and Focus’ in-house experts.
We all get frustrated in our work sometimes. Often, that dissatisfaction stems from a lack of clarity in our purpose and our actions. But what if you could learn how to focus on the right actions, for the right reasons, and in the right order? What if you could start moving forward in your business with a clearer, more defined objective?
Debbie Peterson is a certified trainer and master practitioner in neurolinguistic programming through the Association of Integrative Psychology. She’s also a nationally recognized speaker and the author of “Clarity: How Smart Professionals Create Career Success on Their Terms.” In her book, coaching, and speaking engagements Peterson asserts that even the most confused entrepreneurs can achieve clarity by taking a few basic steps in their approach to work. It starts by focusing on five key elements:
Move away from thoughts like Why is this happening to me? and think about what you want to do to improve your situation.
1. Mindset. Focus on the things you want rather than the things you don’t want. It takes time to change your mindset, but it’s possible with consistent daily effort. The process begins with how you start your day. When you wake up in the morning, do you focus on everything that could go wrong, or do you focus on opportunities? Move away from thoughts like Why is this happening to me? and think about what you want to do to improve your situation. This is an empowering process of taking control of your thoughts and your future.
2. Passion. What do you want and why? Do you have clarity in the direction of your business? What is the overall goal for your business? Knowing the answers to these questions is important because it helps you tell your mind what you want to find.
3. Planning. Get your plans out of your head and onto paper. Write it down; sketch is out. Set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-based) and plan out ways you will gain better clarity in your work.
4. People. Who can help you reach your goals? You need a support network, people who understand you and raise you up. Fill your inner circle with people who can help you get what you want. If you feel like you need to figure it out all by yourself, you’ll get stuck. Remember the proverb: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
5. Performance. What gets in the way of your success—fear of failure, time management, other people? Think about whether you have control or influence over those things. This is important because success comes by choice, not by chance. Are you putting your time and energy into what you want or into the obstacles that are blocking your progress? You get to choose, so choose wisely.
PRIORITIZE TO THRIVE
Once you’ve organized your process around the five keys to clarity, Peterson recommends getting specific about the work you’re doing and the order in which you’re doing it. She suggests making a career bucket list. Write down all the things you want to do in your business, then divvy them into A, B, and C buckets:
A is critical.
B is important.
C is interesting but can wait.
“The key here is to divide them equally, so you’re forced to prioritize rather than dumping everything into the critical bucket,” says Peterson. Within each bucket, prioritize again. List each task in order of importance so you have A1, A2, A3, etc. When you’re done, you’ll have an ordered list of tasks you can tackle one after another rather than drowning in endless, cluttered lists.
You can use the bucket list exercise across many areas in your business, from to-do lists to long-term strategic plans. Peterson goes through this process weekly for her regular to-do list and at longer intervals (every few months) for long-term planning.
THE POWER OF THREE
When you run through the bucket list exercise, you’ll have an orderly list organized by importance. Next, think about the three things you can do every day to help you achieve your A1 goal. Then move on to the A2 goal and the three things you can do to accomplish that. “Every single day you are focusing on what’s most important for your business, and you’re making an agreement with yourself to move toward that goal,” says Peterson. This process helps alleviate the all-or-nothing thinking that overwhelms people. Instead of looking at everything you must do and getting overwhelmed, divide your workload into prioritized lists and give yourself the ability to tackle them one at a time.
8 STEPS TO FOCUS YOUR BRAIN
1. Recognize your brain’s limits. Prevent overload by eliminating as many distractions as you can.
2. Stop trying to multitask. You can’t do more than one thing at a time. It takes time for your brain to switch between two things.
3. Write a to-do list. Relieve your mental load by putting tasks and worries on paper instead of letting yourself ruminate.
4. Identify motivators. When you’re avoiding a task, think about the benefits of getting it done to stop procrastinating.
5. Zone out with exercise. Physical activity can increase dopamine, which drives your brain, but let your mind wander to recharge your concentration.
6. Cut the clutter. A messy environment commands your brain’s attention, making it more challenging to focus.
7. Seek some quiet. Research shows that auditory distractions can be disruptive to a brain that’s trying to focus.
8. Tip up a coffee, tea, or caffeinated soda. There’s a reason caffeine is the most widely consumed drug in the world. It works.
Clarity comes from within. Unfortunately, a lot of us look elsewhere when assessing success, and this can confuse the process. To reach a state of clarity in your work, figure out what works for you, and determine your own model of success instead of measuring yourself by what others find important. Peterson recommends taking three steps to establish your own measuring stick:
1. Understand your core business values. What does your business stand for? Determine your core values, then build an experience around what you want to create. Ask yourself how you want to feel throughout the day and what experiences you want to have within your business. Think about times when you felt motivated, when there was a natural flow to your work. That was an experience. Identify those times and work to build more of them into your work.
2. Run your own race. We all get caught up comparing ourselves to everything else we see. But what does success mean to you? Pause to truly consider this question. Then write down the answer and make it one of your goals. Otherwise, you’ll just be chasing others’ (often unattainable) visions of success.
3. Partner with the right people. Your ideal partners will fall into two camps: the people who surround you and the people who support you. The people who surround you are the folks who make up your inner circle. However, not everyone who is with us is for us. Sometimes you need to evaluate your inner circle and make sure you’re surrounded by people who believe in you. The people who support you are individuals who are trying to create something similar to what you’re trying to create. Tap into the experience and motivation of others who are on the same path. When like-minded people come together and focus on each one in turn, action is sparked. You can tap into the momentum of the group and hold each other accountable.
CONTINUING THE JOURNEY
Clarity is a journey, not a destination. This is a rinse-and-repeat system designed to help people continue down the path toward clarity while reaching important milestones along the way. Every time there’s a challenge or a new step in your business, Peterson recommends going back to the five keys to clarity:
Consider your mindset.
Figure out what you really want (your passion).
Make a plan.
Find the people who can help you.
Focus on your performance.
Going back to this process, again and again, helps provide context; it defines who you are as a businessperson and what you want to achieve. When you do that, the markers start lining up, and the path forward becomes clear. You start making your own answers to questions that previously befuddled you.
“Having clarity helps you rebound and reach your potential,” says Peterson. “And you have far more potential than you realize.”
5 top tips for taking competition-worthy photos of incredible old buildings, structures and standing stones often found within stunning landscapes
From grand castles and imposing stately homes to crumbling ancient cities and lonely standing stones, the world is awash with historical ruins if you care to go searching for them. They can be tricky to photograph, but you don’t have to travel far and wide; there are likely some castles, churches, abbeys and ruins close to where you live.
Before making a big trip abroad to a ‘honeypot’ site, practice your skills locally, but do check opening times, car park fees and entry fees ahead of time. Here are some of our top tips to get you started…
1 Capture castles in context
Is the castle on a hill overlooking an epic landscape? Is there a moat around it? Is a drawbridge its visual highlight? Although castles are traditionally seen as grand military structures that were designed to be imposing, they were usually built in places that gave the inhabitants wide-ranging views and early site of any approaching invaders. Many are also surrounded by landscaped grounds. Either way, try to capture the connection between a castle and the environment it exists in.
If you want to get a castle in context then consider using a wide-angle lens, which will enable you to get more into your composition and keep it sharp. Depending on how wide-angle it is you may be able to approach the castle and capture it from close in while still placing it in its environment.
Before you start shooting take a stroll around the grounds, getting a feel for what’s around and what you might want to include in your shots. Resist the temptation to start shooting immediately; take your time and investigate the site for details you might want to emphasise. Read about the building’s history, if only to decide what the most important structures are, and how they’re normally photographed.
2 Give standing stones some space
There are thousands of prehistoric circles, standing stones, henges and burial chambers throughout the UK and Europe, yet they can be difficult to photograph. A lot depends on what’s around them; some are surrounded by flat grassland while others are on peninsulas, on tops of peaks, or nestled in forests. Your position is everything since standing circles, for example, don’t tend to look much more than a bunch of stones unless it’s captured from above, or at least an elevated position on a nearby hill.
Do your research before you visit, not only about the monument’s environment, but about theories on its history and function. If you’re going to photograph a burial chamber that’s aligned with the rising Sun, consider visiting at sunrise to shoot a ‘sun star’ shot. You can do that by using a large aperture and a slow shutter speed.
3 Create an unusual composition
Looking for something that no one has seen before in an ancient monument, and getting the shot right, is difficult. But it’s what good photography is all about. Sometimes it can be something as simple – at least in retrospect – as capturing a reflection and turning it upside down (see above). Another way to treat this same shot could be to capture it at night and have stars reflecting in the river.
Find interesting items for the foreground of your image. Vary your height; take shots from low to the ground for an unusual point of view. Look for leading lines in walls, pathways, drawbridges and corridors.
While the wide-angle shot has likely been done before many times, where you can do something new is with close-ups. So pack a zoom lens, which will allow you to isolate architectural details from crumbling walls to rusty door handles. Try to shoot through a window or upwards where the roof used to be.
Look beyond the cliches. The photos on the postcard or guidebook cover and the ones to avoid, not the ones to replicate. If there are lots of visitors, avoid getting them in your photos by watching where they’re going and heading to the other end of the site. It can also be worth finding out if the monument in question is illuminated at night; if it’s not you could try some long exposures that include stars or possibly, in summer, the Milky Way.
4 Wait for an unexpected event
A legion of photographers have taken shots of Stonehenge at day and at night. Sure, there are literally 360º opportunities to take something different even from a distance, but they mostly end up looking very similar.
So wait for something genuinely different to happen in the sky above. That could be an eclipse of the Moon or the Sun, or it could be something not predicted by science at all, like the arrival of a comet. That happened for just a few weeks in July 2020, with savvy photographers heading to the old stones to get a shot of Comet F3 Neowise. For many it was a simple repeat of a shot they had mastered years before, but with the added bonus of a space rock hurtling through the sky above.
If the sky above is all-important when photographing monuments from afar, the weather is your friend. If there are clear blue skies a polariser will enhance them and also help reduce reflections. Clouds can often be exaggerated to seem like a bubbling storm. Sunrise is a great time to be at ancient monuments, not least for the possibility of rising mist, which can add an ethereal dimension to your inherently mysterious subject. It also maximises your chance of being there alone. Close to sunset you may spot crepuscular rays in the west.
5 Get off the beaten track
Head to Angkor Wat, the Colosseum, the Pyramids or Machu Picchu and you’ll have to constantly battle crowds, queues and restrictive opening times. That’s going to reduce your chances of taking original shots. The more popular they are the less likely they are to allow in tripods, while some ban photography altogether (or charge extra for photography permits). Better to head to lesser known, but equally as dramatic sites where you’ll have lots of time and the place to yourself.
Although most famous monuments have something lesser known and just as picturesque close by (such as Beng Mealea north of Angkor Wat, and Kuélap, Llactapacta and Choquequirao close to Machu Picchu in the Sacred Valley), you can find UNESCO World Heritage Sites sprinkled throughout the world.
Jamie Carter is a journalist and author focusing on stargazing and astronomy, astrophotography, and travel for Forbes Science, BBC Sky At Night magazine, Sky & Telescope, Travel+Leisure, and The Telegraph.View all articles
Do you enjoy taking photos but find yourself buried in unprocessed images? This article is for you! I’m going to give you my top 10 photo editing tips for speeding up your workflow.
I do most of my post-processing in Adobe Lightroom. But the basic principles apply regardless of the editing software you use.
The goal is to get from import to export efficiently. Don’t lose your photographic mojo or let your favourite photography gather digital dust.
10. Fix Your Images In-Camera to Save Time
Often, you will take a photo knowing that you’ll have to fix something later in post-processing.
But if you can fix it now in-camera, you don’t have to fix it later. With a quick spin of a dial, you can change the exposure. Zoom in for a tighter crop. Straighten that horizon line. It’s better than fussing with straightening it later in post-processing. Especially if you have to adjust 100 horizon lines individually.
You can make adjustments later. But why wait until tomorrow for something that you can do today?
Save on post-processing time by slowing down in the field and looking at the scene. You’ll probably need to take fewer shots to get the one you want.
The closer the in-camera image is to your final image, the less post-processing you have to do.
9. Use Import & Export Tools
Set up your editing software to do things automatically. Lightroom’s import and export tools are a great place to start.
On import, you can add global keywords and metadata like titles and copyright information. Keywording is a pain, but you can’t find your images unless you keyword. By taking a few seconds to apply keywords on import, you will save a lot of time later.
You can even add a develop preset which applies your favourite settings to the imports. You can tweak settings later, but lay the foundation of your post-processing edits on import.
When you’ve finished working, you also have export tools. You can rename images and apply output sharpening. Lightroom makes the changes automatically. You don’t have to think about it.
8. Have a System to Find Your Images Faster
I’ve wasted a lot of time looking for images. If I only had a few, I could probably remember where I put them. But after 1,000 (or 100,000), I need a system for storing images.
Put files in a place where you can find them later. It doesn’t matter what your system is, it’s having the system that’s important. An example of this might be Photographs>Wedding>2018.07.15 – Scott & Wendy.
Speeding up your workflow isn’t just about faster post-processing. It’s about having images at your fingertips when you need them.
7. Edit Only the Best Images
Photographers who fly through post-processing aren’t spending time on each and every photo. They only work on the best of the best.
This means having an effective culling strategy. Culling means deleting photos that didn’t work and targeting ones that did.
Rank your favourites with hearts, colors, flags, or stars. I go through my images quickly to make an initial selection. Then I do it again, narrowing down my favourites. My top shots get more stars. You don’t have to use my system but have a system.
I’m only going to post-process my favourites. I’ve been burned too often. I’ve post-processed an image only to find better light or composition on the next image.
To make this process faster, use a tool like Photo Mechanic. This is a program designed specifically to speed up the culling process.
Post-processing only the best of the best will greatly speed up your workflow.
6. Eliminate Keystrokes
Photo adjustments can be highly repetitious. Use any keyboard shortcuts offered by your post-processing program.
If you are able to do with one keystroke that would normally take two, you’ve saved yourself time and energy. It might not seem like a lot but think of all those thousands of photos in your catalogue. A one-second keystroke becomes a lot when multiplied by a 1000 or 100,000.
For instance, use Lightroom’s Auto-Advance function. To activate this, place a checkmark next to Photo>Auto-Advance. When you add a flag or star during culling, Lightroom automatically advances to the next image. This saves you hundreds of keystrokes each time you cull images.
There are many Lightroom shortcuts. “X” for reject. “D” to switch to the Develop Module. “V” to convert to black and white. Here’s a complete list of Lightroom shortcuts.
5. Use Presets and Auto For Quick Adjustments
It’s quicker to tweak adjustments than apply them from scratch. Start post-processing by using auto options or presets.
The auto-icon usually looks like a magic wand. The software analyzes your image and makes changes. You can check to see what settings Lightroom recommends by clicking the auto button in the Basic panel. If you don’t like the results, you can always undo the changes.
I like a lot of the settings Lightroom suggests, but others I tweak. I tend to like a lot more contrast than Lightroom suggests.
Presets or filters apply a look to your photography with one click. You can download filters or make your own. In Lightroom, you can save favourite settings as a preset. To do this, click the “+” next to the Presets panel in the Develop module. Select Create Preset.
In Photoshop, I save a series of commands as an action.
Saving settings as a preset means that I can apply these with one click.
4. Use Batch-Editing
You may often photograph a series of photos in the same scene or with the same subject. They will have similar lighting and camera settings. There’s no need to post-process each image separately. Instead, batch edit.
Batch editing means post-processing more than one photo at a time.
There are a couple of ways you can do this in Lightroom. You can copy and paste the settings or use the Sync button.
Start by editing one photo.
To copy your settings, select the image you’ve edited and go to Edit>Copy (Ctrl or ⌘C). A dialogue box will appear asking which settings you want to copy. You can check all or individual settings. Then select an unedited image and paste the settings Edit>Paste (Ctrl or ⌘V).
To sync settings, select all similar photos starting with the photo you’ve edited. Click the Sync button in the Develop module. That’s it! Your settings will be applied to all of the photos. It doesn’t matter if you selected two or two hundred.
3. Streamline Your Editing Process
Once you start editing images, have a system. It doesn’t matter what that system looks like – just that you do the same adjustments in the same order.
Some photographers go straight down the Develop Module panel in Lightroom. They fix the Basic settings first, then move down the list. Skip over the settings that don’t apply to your photographic style.
My first change is composition. I crop the image. There’s nothing worse than removing dust spots, straightening lines, and adding a vignette – only to then crop out my hard work. After cropping, I move onto contrast, highlights, shadows, color, and details.
Decide on the settings that you care about most and make changes in the same order. If you often have to go back to readjust a setting, change the order. For instance, adding dehaze often darkens the image. This means I have to readjust exposure. The more you can automate your editing, the faster you will be.
2. Edit on the Go
I have found myself sitting on a plane, train, or bus home from a session, itching to start post-production. Put that time to work.
Set up a mobile post-processing workspace on a laptop or mobile device. This won’t necessarily replace your primary workspace, but you can get started editing. By the time you’re home, you can have your images imported into Lightroom, added keywords, and started culling.
1. Be Decisive
When I think about the things that slow down my workflow, I have to admit that most of the time it’s me.
There are a thousand ways to edit a digital image. I am at my most efficient in post-processing when I’m decisive. I waste time when I vacillate between possibilities. There’s no harm in trying a few different ways of post-processing an image. But then I need to make a choice.
It’s easier if I only have two choices in front of me. This photo or that? This white balance or that?
There is no right way of post-processing an image. It only matters that you like it.
There you go. My top ten photo editing tips to speed up your workflow. This article is more about streamlining how you deal with your images than on how to edit photos. Spending more time at the beginning of the process will stop time being wasted later on.
I use these tips when it comes to my work, and it took a while for the process to become streamlined. Find your own way and share your tips in the comments below.
Jenn Mishra is a fine art travel and landscape photographer based in the St. Louis metro area. Jenn is an active photographic educator and has been invited to speak at conferences such as Out of Chicago. Her photos have been featured in a number of solo exhibitions. Her studio is Wits End Photography. You can see more of Jenn’s photo at http://www.jennifermishra.com or visit her Instagram @jennatwitsendMore By Jenn Mishra >
In the age of social media, a clear understanding of your rights as a photographer is crucial to receiving the credit you deserve. But with so much information out there, you might find yourself asking:
What laws are in place to protect photographers like me?
What do I do if someone uses my photo without permission?
How long do photographers have ownership of their images?
Copyright law in the United States prohibits the unauthorized copying of a “work of authorship.” In 1988, the following amendment was added to address visual works including photography:
“Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works” include two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of fine, graphic, and applied art, photographs, prints and art reproductions, maps, globes, charts, diagrams, models, and technical drawings, including architectural plans. Such works shall include works of artistic craftsmanship insofar as their form but not their mechanical or utilitarian aspects are concerned; the design of a useful article, as defined in this section, shall be considered a pictorial, graphic or sculptural work only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.”
Phew. That’s a mouthful of legalese! So what does it mean in English? Basically, copyright law says that when you take a photograph, you become the copyright owner of the image created. This means you hold exclusive rights to:
Reproduce the photograph
Display the image in a public space
Distribute the photo
Create derivatives of the image
Seems straightforward, no? But what’s considered a “derivative?”
A “new version” of a work that is already copyrighted falls under the term of a “derivative” work. Special re-edits of movies, art reproductions, and literary translations all qualify as derivatives. A film based on a book or play is another common example.
In the realm of photography, any time someone creates a photograph that is a copy or “substantially similar” to another copyrighted work, they are potentially infringing upon the original owner’s rights.
By comparing and evaluating a derivative work to the original, a court of law can determine if any copyright laws have been violated. In other words, a photographer who went to great lengths to recreate an original work’s composition, lighting, and other creative elements would be more likely to be found guilty of copyright infringement than a photographer who simply takes pictures of subjects that already exist in other photos (i.e., monuments, nature). This means many different photographers can take photos of, say, the Golden Gate Bridge without infringing on each other’s artistic rights.
In addition to looking out for your own rights, you as a photographer need to be aware of ways you may unknowingly infringe upon another artist’s rights. The last thing you want to do is misuse another creative’s work!
Take for example Mercedes Benz’s 2018 ad campaign featuring the company’s new vehicle “barreling through Detroit’s boho Eastern Market district past commercial buildings painted with vibrant murals.” Cool concept, no doubt. But the artists who created those murals that contributed so much color and atmosphere to the campaign were never asked permission to use their work, let alone credited:
“While Mercedes sought municipal permission to make beautiful shots of its vehicles on public city streets, it did not seek the muralists’ permission to make and post images of their works on Instagram. Copyright infringement? Mercedes thought not. The muralists—James Lewis, Jeff Soto, Maxx Gramajo, and Daniel Bombardier—thought otherwise.”
It shows the importance of being aware of how others’ work appears in your photographs
It serves as an example of how your work may be misused
The exception to copyright law is when the reproduction of a photograph or visual work is deemed “fair use.” The next section digs deeper into this term.
Fair use is an exception when it comes to copyright law. Journalism, critiques, research, and teaching materials are examples of specific types of writing that allow the reproduction of copyright-protected works without the permission of the “author”.
For example, if you exhibit your photography in a gallery, an art publication generally does not need permission to reproduce your image if they’re using it as part of a critique. Or, conversely, a newspaper may publish photographs of works and use them as part of an article. Both of these are examples of copyrighted work being used under “fair use” guidelines.
When considering whether a reproduction of a work is fair use, the U.S. Copyright Act says “the factors to be considered shall include whether:
The use is of commercial nature or if it is for nonprofit education purposes
The copyrighted work is highly creative or if it is fact-based
Part of the entire original work was reproduced or just a part of it
The reproduction reduces the value of the original work or has no effect
One important thing to keep in mind is that social media marketing’s use of images very rarely falls under “fair use.” If your photographic work is being used without your permission, check out the resources from PPA below for help determining if you need to take further action.
Remember: If a company uses one of your images in their marketing—on social media or otherwise—without your approval, they are violating your rights as a creator. So, what do you do if you suspect your work of being used without your permission? PPA has resources to help you understand copyright law, and even a Copyright Infringement Tool to leave no question in your mind whether or not your rights as a creator have been violated.
From a sea of blue flowers and pink blossom to new life and an uptick in celestial activity, spring brings photographic opportunities galore
Flowers in bloom. Rushing waterfalls. The birth of new life. After a long winter, the beginning of spring is the ideal excuse to dust off your camera and get creative outdoors.
Nature comes alive in spring, with the longer days and warming temperatures leading to colorful sights such as wildflower displays and cherry blossoms, young animals frolicking, and even a little-known uptick in ‘space weather. Here are some of our top tips for taking full photographic advantage of the change from winter to spring…
1 Bluebell woods
A carpet of bluebells is an evocative image of spring, but like cherry blossoms, the season for capturing bluebells is short and sweet. They flower in April and May in the UK – home to over half the world’s bluebells – so you’re only going to get a short window to visit a bluebell wood to photograph them.
Although it’s a classic spring shot, bluebells can be tricky to capture. The options are endless. A wide-angle lens will help you create a dreamy scene, though you’ll need a very thick carpet of bluebells for that to work well. A telephotos lens can help you zoom in on a section of bluebell growth for a more luscious look. You can also attempt some macro shots of the flowers themselves. Close-ups are best done after rain when you can see droplets on the flowers, but you’ll likely have to be very patient because even a breath of wind can make a macro shot very difficult.
Be really careful when in a bluebell wood because the flowers are very sensitive despite being perennials; they take many years to colonise a wood and if you stand on one it’s likely to die. So stick to paths and if attempting macro shots be very careful where you put your feet. There are actually two types of bluebells in the UK; the sweeter smelling British bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) and the less scented Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica).
Lambs gamboling in meadows and ducklings following their parents across streams and rivers; both are classic springtime photos, but they’re not particularly easy to get. A mistake a lot of casual wildlife photographers make is standing up. For a more interesting point of view crouch down to the eye-line of the animal. That way you’ll get a more natural-looking shot.
What lens to use depends on how far away the wildlife is, of course, but count on at least a mid-telephoto lens such as 300mm. Once you’re in position you have another problem because young animals move fast! So you have two choices; use a really fast shutter speed to make the animal sharp (but the background likely blurred) or a slightly longer shutter speed – and a smaller lens aperture – to keep both the subject and the background reasonably sharp. Exact settings will depend on your lens. For ducklings, go near sunset for more chance of activity and both reflections and silhouettes. For lambs, try to capture them in mid-gambol and be careful not to oversaturate their pure-white wool.
There are ethics to consider before you stake-out a young family of animals to photograph. The golden rule is never to disturb wildlife, and that applies as much in your local park or a farmer’s field as it does when on safari. Firstly, don’t wear luminous or garish clothing. Secondly, keep as still as you can. Thirdly – and perhaps most importantly – don’t get too close to them. Your focus should be on making yourself as invisible as possible. That way you won’t disturb your subject and you’ll also get more natural behaviour.
3 Cherry blossoms
The sudden flowering of cherry trees is a sure sign that spring has sprung. Incredibly photogenic, you’ll find the beautiful, fleeting pink blossom across the world everywhere from Europe and Asia to North America. Surely one of the more iconic places to head to photograph cherry blossoms in Japan, where the sakura tends to bloom from the last week of March until the middle of April.
The fleeting flowering of the country’s thousands of cherry trees is a national obsession and there’s even a blossom forecast on the TV to track the blooms from south to north as spring unfolds. The most popular, and therefore most crowded, places to capture the sakura are Kyoto’s Philosopher’s Walk canal, Osaka’s Okawa River, and Tokyo’s many urban parks, though it’s much quieter – and just as impressive – in the southern state of Kyushu and even in South Korea, which have far fewer tourists.
Since blossoming cherry trees are so bright they tend to work really well as foregrounds in nightscape photography. Easily reflecting any ambient light or moonlight, they can work well against a starry background, and thus also as the centrepiece of a star-trails composite photo. In manual mode and on a tripod, put your camera in front of the cherry tree and set it to ISO 800, the lowest f-number your lens has, and use a 30 second exposure. Make adjustments then take the same image repeatedly for at least an hour (put your camera on continuous mode and use a shutter release cable in the locked position). Then use the simple and free StarStaX software to produce a drag-and-drop composite photo.
4 Northern Lights
Not many people know that the aurora borealis – also known as the Northern Lights – are at their most intense around the equinoxes in late September and late March. It’s because the axis of our planet is perpendicular to the Sun, which makes its solar wind – the cause of the optical phenomenon – more likely to push charged particles down the field lines of Earth’s magnetic field.
However, before heading for 66-69° North latitudes (or thereabouts) to pray for clear skies in northern Scandinavia, northern Canada, or Alaska for March ’20s vernal equinox do check the phase of the Moon. Displays tend to be easier to photograph away from a full Moon. Once you’re there the manual photography side of things is simple; wide-angle lens, tripod, 10-25 second exposures, ISO 800-1600, and infinity focus.
If you’ve always wanted to photograph the Northern Lights then get ready to start planning. We’re now entering a once-a-decade period when they’re going to be at their most frequent and intense. That’s because we’re in a new solar cycle and the Sun is waxing towards ‘solar maximum’, which will probably occur in mid-2025. The Sun has a 11 years cycle, with solar maximum being when the most sunspots are seen on its surface. That means more charged particles being hurled at Earth’s magnetic field, so more Northern Lights.
5 Waterfalls in full flow
Like a lot of spring subjects, timing is everything if you want to capture a waterfall at full throttle. That’s mostly likely after heavy rain, of course, but there’s something else you want if you want to create that classic ‘milky’ motion. Clouds. Since you’re going to have to use a long exposure – between a second and two seconds – it massively helps if there is no direct sunlight on the waterfall, which instantly over-exposes your shot.
On a dark day, you can get away with stopping down your aperture (using a bigger f/ number) or using the shutter priority mode on your camera, and even using a circular polarizer. All will reduce the amount of light coming into your camera, but the easiest technique is to use a 1-stop or 2-stop Neutral Density (ND) filter, which lets you increase the exposure time.
If you want to capture something special alongside a waterfall then head for Skógafoss on the Skógá River in the south of Iceland. This 60 metre waterfall is south-facing, which means three optical phenomenon are possible; rainbows (and even double rainbows!) in its spray, the Northern Lights behind it at night (best seen between September and March), and Moonbows or lunar rainbows when a full Moon is low in the sky. If you’re really lucky you can get the latter two together!
Jamie Carter is a journalist and author focusing on stargazing and astronomy, astrophotography, and travel for Forbes Science, BBC Sky At Night magazine, Sky & Telescope, Travel+Leisure, and The Telegraph.
They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I mean look at Groundhog’s Day. Every year furry aficionados gather on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in the freezing cold at sunrise and look to a cute little rodent named Phil to tell them if there will REALLY be 6 more weeks of winter. Trust me folks, regardless of what Phil wants you to believe, there is still 6 weeks left of winter, and nothing he says or does is going to change that!
As photographers we have a tendency to fall back on our favorites too – a favorite lens, a favorite subject, or a favorite style of shooting – and then we cannot understand why our art is not growing and evolving as fast as we would like.
To break free of the creativity hamster wheel (get the rodent reference?), use this Groundhog’s Day to try something new to spur your artistic growth.
Imitation is flattery
We all want our art to be original, but the idea of finding inspiration from the past is an age-old tradition. Every art student studies art history and is encouraged to go to museums to view and even sketch masterpieces of old. Use that same concept to study other photographers to hone your skills and gather some inspiration.
Look here on Dreamstime.com at the Editor’s Choice area, or choose your favorite topic and sort by best selling images. Study your favorite pictures and ask yourself:
1)What is it about this image that I like? This could be the composition, lighting, color scheme, special effects, etc.
2)How can I use that in my next image?
3)How could I recreate this image?
4)What would I like to do differently to this image?
5)How could I cover the same topic in a completely new way?
Every month Dreamstime.com hosts a new assignment focusing on a different topic or theme for stock photos. Challenge yourself to cover every single assignment from as many different angles as possible – you have up to 10 entries in each contest. Then go back afterwards and look at how others covered the same topic – see which ones won and look at those that were voted highly by the contributor community and ask yourself the same questions as above. If you have the time, try your hand at recreating your images using the answers you glean.
Speaking of challenges, try your hand at a 365-52-12 challenge this year.
A 365 Day Challenge is just what the name implies. Challenge yourself to take a picture (or video or illustration) a day for 365 consecutive days. Some people have taken this to mean take a picture of the same place/theme/topic everyday, while others take it to mean just create an image of SOMETHING everyday.
A 52 Week Challenge takes a little of the daily pressures off while still providing a creative jolt to the system. In this challenge, you have a new theme every week designed to motivate you to shooting or drawing.
Dogwood Studio has created a 52 week challenge that can be started at anytime during the year. Choose the original version, or the advance challenge or combine the two to meet your own needs.
Or make up your own list of weekly themes entirely. Shoot a single image, a series of images over a few days, our use this as your guide to shoot daily around one theme or topic for a full week.
Create your own 12 month challenge. Having a full month to cover each different theme allows for lots more time to develop and explore the theme or concept. Google the topic of 12 month photography challenges to get a suggested list of themes – or make up your own.
Every month has one or more holidays, falls within a season, is either hot or cold, will have food/drink specific to that time of year, etc. etc. etc. Anything can be used as your monthly theme. Try shooting through out the month to tell a more complete story. See how creatively you can cover one single topic or theme.
Creativity is a lot like muscles in your body – the more you use it the stronger it will get. So set up a schedule to try one or more of these creativity exercises on a regular basis.
1)Take 12. Stand in one spot and take 12 unique images of what is around you without moving.
2)Take 10. Choose one small object and take 10 unique or abstract images.
3)Take 4. Shoot one subject framing it in each of the four corners of the image without moving locations.
4)Make it artificial. Try restricting yourself to shooting for a week (or day or month) with a lens, or in a location, or at a time, or using a composition style, or any other restriction you can think.
5)Shoot a roll. Limit yourself to shooting only a “roll of film” (24 or 36 exposures) during any outing.
6)Take baby steps. Choose a number of steps (5,10,100) and shoot one picture for every step you take.
7)Take your subject. Take the same object to different locations and see how creatively you can shoot it.
8)Use a Favorite. Recreate your favorite photo. Or take a photo from an ad or a magazine and see if you can recreate it exactly.
9)Shoot only B&W.
10) SOOC. Shoot only straight-out-of-camera without post processing to force yourself to control all the aspects of the image in camera.
Hopefully one or more of these ideas can get your creativity juices flowing again for this Groundhog’s Day and beyond.
Photo composition takes all these factors into account. By learning a few simple rules of composition, you can make sure your next shot is a masterpiece.
Before we get to the tools, though, let’s clear up one point of common confusion: photo composition versus composite photography. Composite photography is taking multiple images and layering them into one. Photo composition is how you capture or arrange elements within a single shot. Composition plays a big role in composite photography, too, but we don’t want to get too in the weeds here. On to the tools!
Composition in photography is defined as the visual arrangement of elements in your photo. Believe it or not, there are better and worse ways to compose a photograph based on how we see and interpret color, light, and shape.
10 tools for better photography composition.
The rule of thirds: How you line up your subject in the frame plays a huge role in how visually interesting your photo is. One of the most common rules in composition is known as the rule of thirds. Imagine a grid that divides your photo into nine equal sections. Using the rule of thirds, your focal point should be placed around one of the four spots where these lines intersect, or along one of the horizontal or vertical lines. This helps you establish a balanced image that’s pleasing to the eye. Many cameras have the ability to display a grid while shooting, which should help you keep the rule of thirds in mind.
Negative space: Negative space is the space in your photo that isn’t occupied by your subject. Depending on what you’re shooting, you may want to fill the frame and leave as little negative space as possible (keeping the rule of thirds in mind!), or use lots of negative space to your advantage to simplify your photo and focus on your subject. Pay attention to colors and brightness with this technique: contrasting colors and light levels will emphasize your subject far better than similar tones.
Frames: While the edges of your photo naturally frame your subject, you can add some extra impact by including more structure and visual interest in your framing. For example, when photographing architecture, look for pillars, archways, posts, or other elements that you can use to frame your subject. When taking landscape or wildlife photos, trees, branches, and other plants can serve the same purpose, putting your viewer into the shot and adding an element of mystery or exploration.
Lines: Lines in photo composition are used to guide the eye of your viewer, drawing the eye to a focal point. Lines can also contribute to the feeling your image evokes. Horizontal lines can convey stability, like the horizon in a landscape. Diagonal lines often convey motion or distance, especially when they converge (think of a road going off to the horizon). Vertical lines are excellent for imbuing your image with height, structure, and grandeur (trees, architecture, etc.). When shooting, note the relation of your frame and your lines, and try to be intentional about the way you use these lines to your advantage. Does that powerline lead the eye away from your subject? Is that road cutting across your frame where it shouldn’t be? Maybe find another vantage point to eliminate unwanted lines.
Focus: This one is simple: It’s important not to have too much distraction from your main subject. While your photo may have more than one focal point (or a broad focal range), if there’s too much going on the viewer may feel lost. Make sure your focal point is clear and uncluttered.
Juxtaposition: This composition technique uses two elements that contrast each other, often to draw a comparison between the two. Sharp and soft, happy and sad, tall and short, light and dark, near and far — the options are endless and can make for a much more interesting photo than either subject on its own.
Symmetry: There are times when the rule of thirds isn’t your best option. When the subject has exciting details that are symmetrical, you can place your subject in the center of your frame to excellent effect. For example, an ornate staircase, a path through the woods, or a reflection on a still body of water can make a great subject if you want to play around with symmetry.
The rule of space: When your subject is traveling or facing a certain direction, give it some room to breathe! The rule of space refers to the amount of space in your frame given to the direction that your subject is traveling or facing. For example, if you’re photographing a car driving from left to right, you may want to have more space on the right side of your photo than the left to keep your image from feeling cut off.
Patterns: Repeating or otherwise visually appealing patterns can make for a beautiful photo. Pay attention to the lines, symmetry, and directions when composing your photo and make sure the pattern highlights or points to your subject.
Odd numbers: When you’re composing a photo, it’s more visually appealing to have an odd number of elements than an even number. The theory behind this is with an even number of elements, the viewer has trouble choosing what to focus on. This same rule is often used in decorating.
While all these tools may seem daunting if you’re first starting out, once you begin to practice them they’ll start to become second nature. Keep these in mind when shooting, and watch your photography skills grow — then experiment! Once you have a handle on photo composition, intentionally breaking a rule or two can give your photos even more impact.
What do you do to improve the composition of your photos? Leave a comment below or share with us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.