I’ve read so many guides and posts on camera operations and the theory to apply when taking shots, but rarely a plain and simple guide to how the pros shoot and how to get a great photo – so here’s what you should do when out shooting.

Start with a subject or location

The first thing I’ll do is decide where I’m going to go and the type of things I want to shoot. For project 365, during the week I’m limited to where I can walk but I’ll have a good idea what direction I’ll be going in each time and I’ll keep going until I get the shots I’m happy with.

Take your camera out your bag and LEAVE IT OUT

Camera bags are great for transporting your camera but make sure you take your camera out of it and keep it out the bag until you’re on your way home. If your cameras in your bag it’s useless and you’ll miss so many shots. If your worried about the lens being scratched, get yourself a filter, either a UV or polarising one to stick on the end of your lens. They’re only £10 – £20 (do get a good one) and it’ll protect the camera from scratches. If it gets scratched, you’ve only lost the cost of the filter.

NO LIVE VIEW!

Don’t just hold your camera up and look at the LCD on the back – if your camera has a viewfinder, use it. Live view stops you from really engaging with your subject and understanding your camera.

Shoot in aperture priority or manual mode

Controlling what’s in focus and what isn’t is critical to good composition. The way to do that is vary your depth of field by working with the aperture. For more info on aperture read my Xxxxx post.

Maintain good posture and relax when you shoot

If you’re not using a tripod or monopod you’ll need to make sure you shoot at a fast enough shutter speed to prevent shake. A better posture when shooting will help you be more steady and get you those precious few more stops on your shutter speed dial. Hold the weight of the camera in your palm and keep your elbows tucked in against your chest, resting against your ribs. Another trick I’ve learned is to take a nice slow breath then exhale slowly. As you exhale, take the shot and it’ll be nice and steady.

Think about your subject – what interests you and why

Photography is all about identifying what your subject is. When you spot something to shoot, think about what it is about it that’s interesting – is it the way the light hits the subject, the colours, the contrast, the shape…? Identify that and shoot to accentuate it. Pick an angle to bring out what you found interesting – if you’re shooting a skyscraper because you’re in awe of it’s height, pick a tight angle that accentuates it.

Look in all directions

Great shots don’t just turn up in front of you. Look up and down as well as left and right – and keep turning around and looking behind you.

Have fun

Well it goes without saying but have fun with your shooting. Don’t get too bogged down in the technicals – experiment, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and take your time – even the pros take a while to get the perfect shot 🙂

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