Tips to improve your everyday photos

There are hundreds of thousands of tutorials out there and most of them are weighted heavily towards technical aspects, such as the camera and lenses to buy or Photoshop techniques. But photography is more than just a technical exercise. At the end of day, photography is still an art. How do you develop the art side of your photography? It's leaning to see and notice what's around you: visual exercise.

The camera on your mobile phone can teach you the most about photography, because it's always with you and because you don't need to worry about the technical. It teaches you two things: recognizing good light and composition, the art is going to come out of experimentation. In order to improve your photos you don't need and expensive camera, you just need to understand the basic concepts: good light and composition.

First things first! What makes a picture interesting?

Quick answer: it catches your eye.

Photographs are a piece of art and as every piece of art there is no right or wrong. It all depends on your own liking and understanding of the world around you. There are a few basic rules of thumb, but even those can be broken. Once you know them, you can break them with purpose. The goal of this article is not give you a deep insight into photography and its concepts. I’ll keep it as simple as possible.

1 - Use the native app of your phone

I wouldn’t recommend using apps when taking your photos. Each app has its own settings, changes the tones and resolution. The best way is to keep a raw file that you can revisit and re-edit later on. You might have the feeling that your pictures are plain but later you can use simple and basic techniques to bring them into life. I like to use VSCO and Snapseed (Android or iOS), I will go into it in future posts.

2 - Light

This is one of the most interesting aspects you can bring into a picture. When you use the natural light in your favor, it creates a mood. It also allows you to turn off your flash and keep the natural tones of the scene. Even when applying filters, the overall photo will look better because it has the correct tones in first place. Artificial light can be tricky, I will stay away for now.

3 - Composition

Regarding composition, there’s a lot to talk about: lines, colours, perspective, clean backgrounds and so on. I will start with perspective. Try new approaches, pick a scene and experiment from different point of views. The subject seen from a different point of view, rather than one your eye is already used to see it.

I include an example here, the most widely photographed scene and one of my favorites too - coffee. The photos were taken for the sake of exercising, I kept it simple so anyone could replicate it at some stage. These pictures were taken at The Bookshelf Coffee House at Cork, a place that has one of the best coffees in town but it's quite dark. All of them were taken at the same sit, I just tried to compose them differently.

Pick a sit at the window whenever you can. Once you have the light, experiment and have fun!

I enjoy my Instagram account because it allows me to be less careful about the technical aspects and experiment, without the effort of having the big camera at all times. If you find these tips useful and you are experimenting, let me know! Tag my Instagram account @momentsbyadriana, I will be happy to check it out.

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