Photography...

Improve Your Photography - Top 5 Inexpensive Tools To Improve Your Photography

Photography can be an expensive hobby (even worse as a profession) but there are some inexpensive ways in which beginners (and in some cases the more experienced) can improve their photography. All too often we fall into the ploy that expensive new equipment is the only way we can improve, my goal is to make you see that this is a lie, the equipment does not make the photograph you do, all the camera is, is a tool.

These items will all help to improve your photography and are our top 5 list (in no particular order):

Tripod

One of the mistakes that most photographers make, early in the photographic lives, is to always try to handhold their camera. In many situations not only is it possible, but it is also recommended, to use some kind of support and the most stable you will find is a good quality tripod. Tripods offer support in ways that your body cannot, what this will do is remove camera shake the bane of new photographers. For more on Tripods please visit our Support Brands Page.

This is likely to be my most expensive item on the list, but believe me a good sturdy tripod will do more to change your photography than most other items you can buy.

Reflector

When there is not enough light on your subject many people when they are first learning about photography turn to their built in flash to provide that extra bit of light. Unfortunately many times this flash is not great, it produces a harsh light that can often be unflattering and may create unwanted shadows or even the dreaded red eye. But there are alternatives.

You could invest in a decent flash system or you could start out by using a reflector. All a reflector is a tool to reflect the light you do have back onto your subject, be it a person or object (reflectors and flash are pretty useless on large landscapes). Learning to use a reflector will teach you a lot about light, how it can be softened, directed what shadows it creates and much more.

Reflectors can range in price but a very basic piece of white card will do in a pinch.

Books/magazines/internet

Reading about photography in any of its guises will teach you an awful lot. You will find tutorials in almost all Photography Magazines, in many Photography Books and on websites like this one (our How to Shoot Page may be of interest), these can be invaluable cheap or free sources for improving your photography.

But it is not just photography titles that you should use; a great way to really learn about photography is to study pictures that have been used for ?real? purposes (as opposed to photographs for the sake of a photograph, if that makes sense). Study the photographs in adverts or books or as illustrations to other stories how are the lit, and why are they lit how they are, what purpose do they serve? If you can disassemble other photographers work you will begin to learn how to take the photo.

In terms of lowering the costs of these tools, check out your local library.

Notebook and Pencil

Maybe it is coming from a naturalist background into photography but I grew up with a notebook in my hand, I was always taking notes of the wildlife I had seen etc. Now I use those notebooks to take notes on my photography, writing down when and where a photo was taken, will help you later recreate a photo that works, likewise if you were using your own lighting, how was that set up, you may stumble into something that works and if you have your notes you will be able to recreate it.

A notebook will also help you remember locations, sites that you found when you didn?t have your camera. I have many times spotted something and wanted to go back and take a photograph of it, if I have made notes I will know where it is.

Your mind

I think that your mind is the most powerful tool you can possibly have in improving your photography, learning new lessons will obviously be an important step in your photographic life, but the greatest lesson you can teach you mind is the ability to ?see? the photograph in any situation. Learning to instinctively know which angles will work best and which direction and type of light is there is a hard lesson to learn but I believe it is possible.

I also think it is important, in order to improve your photography, to learn how to plan. And what better planning tool than your mind! Planning out what you want from a photograph will completely change the way you take photos, while there will always be a place for snapping whatever comes along, a planned out photo will often be a better photo and gives a much more satisfying feeling as well.

I hope some of you will put these tools to use, and I would love to hear back from you if you have. I?d also like to know if you agree or disagree with what I have written, so please feel free to contact me via the feedback link at the top of the page.

Ashley Beolens