5 Photography Tips and Tricks for Non-Photographers

Woman taking photo of family

An elevator pitch, a well-designed logo, a polished online presence — all are powerful tools for growing your personal brand as a creative professional. But so is the ability to take decent pictures. Whether you’re looking to build your digital portfolio, boost your company’s social media presence or simply find another outlet for your creativity, consider these photography tips and tricks.

I’m not a photographer by trade nor do I aspire to be one. Rather, I’m a PR professional who happens to really enjoy taking photos to share on Instagram and my food blog, and to remember special events I attend (like weddings, baby showers, birthdays). It’s fun, challenging and, perhaps most exciting of all, has opened doors to new relationships and opportunities, like partnering with a few very cool brands that reached out after spotting my work on the Web. I was even asked to contribute to a “Tips for Snapping Food on Instagram infographic.

While I have a lot to learn when it comes to this art form, I’ve also picked up a few photography tips and tricks that up-and-coming shutterbugs may find useful. If you’re looking to improve your camera skills, here are five tips based on my personal experience.

Just do it. When I look back at photos I took a few years ago, I’m appalled. Yet at the time I was proud of each and every one. It sounds cliché, but you won’t get better at photography without practice. If you have a phone or tablet with a camera (and who doesn’t?), you have no excuse not to start practicing today.

Choose a subject. What should you photograph? Anything! But a good way to develop your personal brand and track your progress is to focus on one or two things, whether it’s a daily creative exercise you partake in, something you’re passionate about (like typography or horticulture), or print work you want to add to your online portfolio.

Pick a style – and stick with it. While it’s fun to experiment with different filters and camera angles, when it comes time to publish your work online, consistency (to a degree) is key and will help you hone your “photo personality.” For instance, I tend to take top-down photos and bump up the brightness, contrast and saturation in post-production. (See examples of my work below.)Food collage

Explore apps. There are countless free photo apps and programs available that can help you give your photos a visual boost. A few of my go-tos include VSCO, GIMP, PicMonkey and the photo editing tools on Instagram. Download a handful and pick a few you like; then delete the rest so you can explore the features of your favorites in depth.

Emulate the pros. You know what they say: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Unless you plan to take a photography class (which I have been meaning to), know that you can learn a lot simply by studying the work of those you admire. If you use Instagram, check out the Search & Explore tab to find potential “mentors.” What draws you to their photos? Is it the lighting, composition or subject matter? Then consider how you might be able to adapt their techniques to your photos.

Are you a creative professional by day, amateur shutterbug by night? What photography tips and tricks do you have? I’d love to hear them!

Top image courtesy of Jennifer Chang.

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Tags: Photography