Friday, August 14, 2009

5 Tips from Susannah Conway


Good morning! Can't believe this is the last day of "Spotlight on Photographers". It's been so much fun and I really hate for it to end. We'll do it again in a few months, though....promise. We're going to end the week in a BIG way. Susannah Conway from Ink on My Fingers sent over 5 photography tips that you can actually put into practice this weekend. Thanks so much, Susannah! And, thank you to all of you who submitted photos and left encouraging comments for the featured photographers. :)

5 photography tips to try this weekend

You can take classes and read books about how to use your camera, but when it comes to learning how to take a great photograph, it can feel like you’re out on your own. What makes a photograph work is so subjective, and what one person likes another might loathe. For me it’s all about practice, and practice, and when you’ve done all you can do, you practice some more. The age of the digital camera lets us shoot hundreds of photos in a day with little to no expense, perfect for when you’re first learning the ropes and wanting to find your own style. Vicki’s asked me to share some photography tips with you all today, so why not give a few of these a try this weekend:

1. Get closer. 90% of all family snaps could be improved if the photographer took a few steps closer to their subject. Fill the viewfinder with the faces you love and let us see their smiles. When snapping a group ask them to get closer together – snuggling is good! – and fill the frame with people rather than background.


2. Find your muse. It might be your daughter, your own feet or a three-inch plastic gnome, but find something you can photograph regularly. Shoot it in as many ways as you can think of – up, down, close-up, far away, B&W, colour, at night, on the sidewalk, in nature, at home, in the bath, with flash, in daylight, etc. Some of the greatest photographers shot the same thing over and over again, always finding new ways to capture their chosen muse.

3. Don’t place everything in the centre. If your image is square then a centralised subject can be quite powerful, but if you’re composing in a rectangle – eg with a 35mm DSLR – try filling your frame in a more creative way. Sometimes the negative space around the subject is as important, if not more so, than the subject itself. Learn about the Rule of Thirds here (and then go break the rules once in a while).


4. Try shooting less. I know this flies in the face of our digital instincts, but in ye olde days of shooting film the photographer only had 36 shots per film (or 12 if they were shooting with a medium-format camera). Rather than snap snap snap and delete later, try limiting the number of photos you take – for example, during an afternoon in the forest/by the sea/at the fair, ask yourself this: if I only had 12 shots, what would I capture? What’s most interesting about this place? This exercise teaches you to slow down and really consider how you compose your images.

5. Study other photographers’ work. This weekend leave your camera in its bag and immerse yourself in the vision of the photographers you admire. What it is about their style that excites you? What colours are you drawn to? What sort of subject matter? Through studying the work of others you begin to compile a vocabulary of imagery in your head. Try it on for size in your own work; it might seem like emulation but will eventually evolve into your own unique style as you dive deeper into the imagery that makes your heart – and lens – sing.

Her Blog: Ink on My Fingers Her Website: susannahconway.com Her e-courses: susannahconway.com/e-courses Her Shop: Unravelling Her Flickr: Unravelling

20 comments:

  1. Excellent, excellent advice! #4 rings particularly true: since I "returned" to film a few years ago, and specifically to medium format, I take my time, and I make sure no frame is wasted, and it has done me endless creative good.

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  2. Great tips Susannah! Love the challenge of shooting less...think I will try that myself.
    -Brittni

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  3. Great advice! I use a DSLR, but recently bought some b/w film for our regular SLR and am really excited to work with that again!

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  4. Lovely photos Susannah! And timely tips-- I hope to do some shooting this weekend. :)

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  5. I really appreciate you offering these 5 ideas for the weekend, Susannah. I'm going to take out my inexpensive digital and practice what you said. :)

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  6. these are wonderful tips, especially no. 4. i've recently started using a vintage film camera and it has made me more patient when setting up a shot using my dslr - 15 secs. vs. 5 ;).

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  7. No. 4 is a real good one ~ because I have only my camera's internal memory to work with, at my favourite high resolution, I have 21 shots to work with. Indeed, it does force me to slow down, and consider carefully ... it's improved my abilities.

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  8. what priceless information from a phenomenal photographer. i feel lucky to hear these tips. i will put these to the test on my next trip to chicago!

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  9. Great tips -Thank you Susannah!!!

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  10. These are great advices, thank you for posting. About #4, I always ask myself that question, it works pretty good for me :)
    Have a happy weekend!

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  11. Really great suggestions Susannah!!
    I am so sad that Spotlight on Photographers is over :( I have loved it so much being able to find new talented photographers every day!!

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  12. These are really great tips! Things I had not thought of. I definitely have realized that I need to keep practicing. It can seem frustrating at times.

    Vicki: Your photography series was absolutely amazing and I enjoyed every bit of it!

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  13. LOVE your blog. glad I found it. happy day to you!

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  14. I love your five tips...I will try it out today!

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  15. Great tips - I love number 4 - I'm so selective of what photos I take when using my holga.

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  16. these are great guidelines! i've enjoyed reading them!

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  17. these are such helpful tips! i've been trying to improve my photography since i recently got a new camera.

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  18. Lovely tips and photos, I've put a link to your post on my blog! Hope you don't mind!

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  19. Great advice here... I am going to try those for sure! My boyfriend will be especially happy the the 4th paragraph as I make him dizzy shoting all the time :O)
    Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks so much for your comments. Your thoughts, opinions, and ideas are important to me!

~ Vicki