1. Watch the light.
Photography is an art, light is the paint, film is the canvas, and the photographer is the artist.
A photograph is all about the quality of light and the photographer’s vision. It is very important to see light as a medium to evoke emotions in viewers. Often, as amateurs, we lose touch with what makes a photograph special. This topic deserves an article of its own, but, in a nutshell, it’s not about how many megapixels your camera possesses, it’s about how you, as a photographer, manipulate light to convey stories.
2. Compose, then capture.
“No one is an artist unless he carries his picture in his head before painting it, and is sure of his method and composition.” – Claude Monet
We’ve all made the mistake of getting so caught up in the heat of the moment that we throw composition out the window and just shoot the subject from the same angle frame after frame, only to later find out that we’ve clipped an ear or a leg. I cannot stress the importance of composing the image first before pressing the shutter button. Think about the various elements of the scene and the interplay between them, don’t just look at the view and take a snapshot – that would just be a wasted opportunity.
3. Contrast is key.
“There is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself.” – Herman Melville
Contrast in a scene is what makes the image pop. It doesn’t necessarily have to be just the differences in blacks and whites of the photograph’s tonal range. Contrast could be anything – happiness and sadness, rain and sunshine, small bird on a large perch. It provides context and scale to the picture. Finding contrast in a scene can be sometimes challenging, so it is important to keep an eye out for elements that seem contradictory or unusual and use them in the composition to give the image depth and punch.