Photography is one of the most important aspects of my practice as a designer, and is fast becoming one of my favourite hobbies too! I think it's easy to feel intimidated by photography and make excuses why you "can't do it" eg. not having a good enough camera, not understanding things like shutter speed and aperture settings etc. I am still learning how to use my camera to its full potential, and I am by no means an expert! But I have picked up some handy tips along the way which I found really helpful as a beginner - I hope they are useful to some of you too!
1. Choose your moment - Get into the habit of always having your camera to hand, batteries charged, card empty and ready to use so that when the perfect picture opportunity arises you don't miss your chance! Practice makes perfect and the best way to learn is always to experiment.
2. Think carefully about exposure - Lighting is arguably the most important factor to consider when taking photographs. I prefer to use natural light and I very rarely use the flash on my camera because it washes out the subject in the photo. If your camera is an SLR and has a light metre, always remember to use it to check for over/under exposure.
3. Depth of field - This refers to the range of distance in an image which controls the sharpness of the background. If your camera has a setting that allows you to change your aperture (or F stops) then you can control your depth of field and get those blurry background shots! Lower F stop numbers (such as F2.8) allow a shallow depth of field (blurry background) while the higher numbers (such as F16 or above) have a longer focal length so more of the background is in focus. This can seem a bit confusing and is just the tip of the iceberg on this subject but it really is worth getting to grips with these rules, especially if you own an SLR or a digital camera with certain SLR capacities.
4. Composition - This is where art comes into photography. It may seem obvious, but the way you choose to frame your subject really is everything. Are you trying to capture the whole subject or an isolated part? Think about your background, especially in product photography. Do you want to have a totally clean background or do you want to style it with certain props or environments? Everything in shot should be considered to make the image really special.
5. Edit. - Something that is often left out but really makes all the difference in finishing off your photographs is the editing. I edit every photo that appears on this blog using Photoshop, but there are lots of free programmes and apps that do the job. Editing can minimise mistakes with exposure, sharpening, vibrance and can just give the photos the extra pop they need.
I hope these tips help a little, but as I said before this barely scratches the surface of how much there is to learn about photography! There is a lot of really useful information on the internet, but I have learnt the most so far from books - especially Understanding Exposure by Andrey Nauman which explains everything in detail but in a very easy and manageable way. I recommend it :)
Now go get snapping!