Photography Tips

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The best thing I ever did to improve my photography was to embark on a 365 day photo challenge in 2013. I look back now and remember how hard it was at the time to keep motivated, but I am also so grateful that I have daily recording of my life for a full year.  It also was a great way for me to share my photography, start blogging through facebook and get a following of people interested in my work. Here are my tips for success for those who are interested in doing a similar long-term project. Happy Snapping!
1.     Equipment isn’t everything - you don’t have to use a DSLR camera, you could do this challenge to improve your iphone/android photography skills and leverage Instagram easily.
2.     Think about when you want to start it. If you start on January 1, you will be finishing the challenge in the middle of winter when the daylight hours are shorter with less opportunity for natural light captures.
3.     Believe you can do it. If you are still not sure, start the challenge off in Beta! I started a Facebook blog for this challenge, but I didn’t share my project with friends until I was a month into posting photos and knew I could finish it.
4.     Post your photos daily if possible (ideally around the same time). Seeing the encouraging comments from friends and followers each day pushed me to take the camera out when sometimes it was the last thing I wanted to do.
5.     Enlist the support of your family and friends. This is a huge time commitment and there is no way I could have completed this challenge without a very understanding husband and kids.
6.     Set goals for yourself and list the different techniques/genres you want to practice and master. I learned how to shoot better in low light, and I tried food photography and long exposures for the very first time.
7.     Invest in a camera bag if you have a DSLR, and bring your camera with you EVERYWHERE!
8.     Ask your friends if you can take a photo of them, or their kids, or their garden, or their house, or their dog. Eventually you will feel like you captured every moment of your own life through a lens until you realize you can start focusing on someone else’s and get fresh images.
9.     Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. There were times I posted photos I didn’t love but I wanted to stay true to the challenge and they were the best photo I took that day. If that’s the case, make sure the photos are SHARP and STRAIGHT. This rule goes for every photo you post.
10.  Get outside at the weekends, take time each day for you, and plan fun activities. I admit, there were times I hauled my family to weird places, just for a photo op (back to tip 5 - thank you to my understanding husband). It also pushed me to take a much needed lunch break at the office many times.
11.  Have one photo up your sleeve. I mean that beautiful close up shot of your 2 year old’s wispy hair blowing in the wind that you can bang out easily if you have a fever (I ended talking that photo when I was sick during my challenge).
12. Try at least four self-portraits, and do one every quarter. If you are like me, you will hate doing it, but will be so glad after you did it. Buying a wireless remote that you can hold in your hand will help.
13. Copyright/watermark your photos, especially if your children appear in them and you are posting them online.
14. Learn from your challenge. What photos do you like to take the most? What are your strengths? Are you a landscape photographer? Or are you into street photography? Or do you get excited thinking about capturing candid images of children? This challenge will help you determine the genre of photography you may want to specialize in going forward.
15. Capture the photos you want to post on your walls. Many of the photos I took last year grace my walls today and I am so glad I focused on capturing family moments I love the most. In fact I feel bad sometimes that I don't have the same amounts of cherished photos of my kids this calendar year - oh well!

Check out my full year in photos on my Facebook blog.
My first long exposure capture! My husband made a heart shape slowly using a flash light that had two light bulbs in it.