This is a guest post from Emily Hayward of What Emily Said. (She also shares her photography on Flickr.) It’s part of our new series of guest posts, where we find the most talented women on the Internet to share their knowledge.
I prefer to introduce myself as self-proclaimed photographer because I am far from a professional. There’s a lot that goes into taking a decent photograph, from lighting to composition to the final edits. Like many things, teaching myself the art of photography was a lot of trial and error: fiddling around with the settings and different mediums and plenty of harsh criticism on myself once I uploaded them to my computer and took a good look at when came out of my camera.
The neat thing about photography is that each picture is unique to the photographer. It speaks to what they were seeing at that exact moment and how they want to share what they saw with others.
In light of the longer days, brighter sunshine and the beauty all around us this time of year, I’m sharing a few tips that I found helpful when improving my picture-taking game!
1. Find a medium you love using
When I first really got into photography, I fell deeply in love with film. It’s a love that still runs through my core to this day. There is something about carefully curating each frame (after all, you only have 24!) and the rush of picking up your developed prints. Digital has its perks, too! Instant gratification when you see the picture on the screen and the opportunity to try again if it didn’t quite work out. iPhone photography is growing quickly and social media is a great opportunity to instantly share your work. The bottom line—find a medium (or two or three) that you love using and use it!
2. Experiment with your settings.
This one is one of the most important tips. Learn what your camera can do, inside and out. Know that if you’re in low lighting, you should have a slower shutter speed. And if you’re in bright light, make sure your aperture is set so it doesn’t let too much of light in. Experiment, experiment, experiment, and find what works for you. Digital photos have no limit, so snap away and practice with everything (people, nature, animals, food, interiors), and find your groove. Try different times of the day with different lighting—shoot into the sun at golden hour and get that unbelievable glow behind your subject. Shoot midday when the sun is above you. Shoot early in the morning when the world is quietly waking up, or shoot at night and use your car headlights to light your subject, or even better—sparklers! Try different or patterned backdrops for your subject. (Textured pillow cases, posterboard and wrapping paper are just a few good examples!) Experimenting is key. I can’t stress this enough. I’m completely self-taught, and it was all through practice and trial and error. The old adage “practice makes perfect” is true to form.
3. Don’t worry about getting the perfect picture
Live in the moment. You can’t spend all your time worrying if your picture is going to get thousands of likes on Instagram or if it’s trendy. Take your pictures for you. You’re curating your own memories, so make sure they illustrate how you see the world through your lens; don’t let the moment go by, and don’t fuss about making sure it’s perfect for others. Take your photos for you. This is one of my all-time favourite pictures. My love and I went apple picking a few years ago, and this picture couldn’t be a better reminder of that moment.
4. Don’t give up!
After a difficult few months with photography a few summers ago, I put my camera down for a while and didn’t pick it up again. Only in the last 12 months or so have I started to find my groove again. I shouldn’t have let a crappy experience demolish my love for taking pictures. I can’t say this enough: do not give up. If photography is your passion, keep taking pictures. Do what you love and you will live a much happier life.
I think the underlying message here is find your passion, curate your style and continue to take pictures. There is no such thing as too many pictures or too many memories. Practice, experiment, try different mediums and don’t stop doing what you love.