See one, do one, teach one
The best photographers are also the best teachers of photography. Every successful photographer that I know will gladly pull back the curtain on any aspect of their art and craft when asked. That’s because the best photographers are not just teachers but also students. They never stop learning and never feel like they know enough. Mystery and secrecy are not traits of great artists.
I seem to have the opportunity ever other week or so to share some basic knowledge about photography with people that I meet while on the road or engaged in commissioned work.
My hands-on lessons are very simple and are delivered in plain English without any jargon or double-talk and only last two to three minutes, which is more than adequate to make an impression.
I’ve observed that the number one problem that people run into when taking photographs is the effect of poor camera handling. The simple act of correctly holding the camera will enhance anyone’s abilities immediately. This applies to cameras in phones too.
Try this….Bring your camera up to eye level, holding it with both hands, tuck in your elbows, draw in your breath as you compose, click the shutter and then exhale. This is nothing more than turning yourself into a human tripod.
The other issue that I address is basic composition. The ability to compose an image is not a mysterious gift bestowed by art angels, but a skill that can be learned and refined. I start with the “rule of thirds” which is a simple concept that can be put into practice with immediate results.
Try this too….As you look through the frame, divide what you see into three equal parts. Point the camera so that the most important element (person, place or thing) is mostly in one of the three zones. Let the other two zones stay “empty” and see how that looks. I think you’ll surprise yourself.
Pro tip: Your results will be enhanced if the person, place or thing isn’t centered. Give it a test for yourself as soon as you can.
About the author: I am Stephen Kennedy, an experienced photographer specializing in creating environmental on-location portraits and corporate photo libraries for blue chip companies.