I have to be honest here: you don’t need to take a photography class, no graduate with a degree in it. Photography’s an art form, plain and simple. Either you have a talent (which includes a desire) for it, or you don’t (which means you have no interest in it at all). Pretty cut and dry.
You, of course, can take a course in photography; and for sure it’ll probably benefit you greatly. But learning how to take great photos can be as simple as owning a camera and wanting to use it!
So here’s some tips with which to tantalize your eyes. Cost efficient, yes. Fun? Most definitely.
The Idea of “Shallow Depth of Field”
Just about every camera instruction manual will explain this feature to you. So the only kind of ‘class’ you’ll be going to is the Wal-Mart to purchase your first camera (unless you already have one).
What is the “shallow depth of field”? Simply put, in photography it’s the effect the picture has when the background gets blurred while the main image of the photograph is sharpened. Some cameras actually do this automatically.
Interestingly enough, you can for many cameras actually adjust the shallow depth of field to your liking, to sharpen or blur anything you want in the picture.
Play with it and see what grabs your eye the most. Good picture-taking obviously involves composition after you take the picture.
It’s easy to forget all about this when you’re in the moment of taking a picture, but understand that a camera picks up light the same way an ant-eater picks up ants. The camera practically swallows up that light!
Too much of it, and your photo looks whitewashed. Too little of it, and the subject of your photo looks too darkened and silhouetted.
Basic rule of thumb is this: your main source of light, whether it’s the sun or a lamp, needs to be behind you and to the right or left.
Of course, if you’re capturing the image of a person, you don’t want the light to be directly at the person, or else that person may start squinting! In general, the light, though, has to be behind you and facing toward the subject of your photograph.
Here’s a surprising fact for you, and I dare anyone to challenge it: no one can take a “perfect” picture. It’s simply impossible.
By “perfect,” I mean a shot where the arms are hanging right, the lighting is right, the background’s right, the person’s facial expression is right. Everything’s right.
Good photography is about capturing realism. Someone who’s acting like they’re waiting for a picture to be taken isn’t real.
So allow yourself to be spontaneous with your photography. Take many off-guard pictures. Allow your subjects to laugh, react, talk, look away, express themselves. Very limited poses. A snapshot of something happening is a perfect slice of life.
Lastly, Have Fun!
Photography’s supposed to be fun (unless you really don’t care for it). So above everything else, enjoy what you do. Let it fulfill you; let it be your form of therapy.
Because while you’ll always want to take good photos, know that in essence, no matter if they’re good or bad, the photos you take will be for your pleasure first and foremost. And that’s the most important thing.