Image by Uffe Jakobsen
Athletes would never consider showing up to a game without having practiced, so why is it that most photographers shoot for the “wall-hanger” photo every time they go out without ever practicing new techniques? Consider applying these new workouts in your photography routine and you will improve your skills and creativity.
The EXIF Drilldown
The very best way to shoot like a pro is to analyse the work of the pros, and Flickr is just the place to look. Most photographers probably know that cameras save information about what camera settings were used to take a photo, and the information is saved in the jpeg image file. Some websites, such as Flickr, make this information easily viewable so photographers can see how other photographers created a photo.
To view this information on Flickr, find a photo and click the small text link on the top right of the screen that reads the name of the camera that shot the picture. Clicking this link will bring up a new page showing all of the camera settings the photographer used. This photography workout simply requires going to Flickr or any other photo sharing website, finding good photos, and then carefully reviewing the EXIF data from the pictures. Ask intrinsically why the photographer chose those settings and what camera settings could change in order to improve the photograph. When this photography exercise is implemented, the question, “How did he take that picture?” is asked much less often. With practice, knowing the correct camera settings is easy.
Most photographers take tens of thousands of pictures over the course of a year, but only a handful of those photos really stand out enough to make their way to your portfolio of best images. Many good images may be captured during each time shooting, but rarely is an image captured that is truly stunning.
While all photographers understand this fact, their photography techniques rarely reflect it. Most photographers shoot hundreds of images and hope that some of them reach the level of quality necessary to make it into the portfolio. Though this method of never missing the moment has some merit, it also teaches photographers that if the first or second photo of a scene does not turn out, it is acceptable to simply forgive and forget the mistakes and move on to something else. Therefore, this straight-forward exercise is designed to work that bad habit out of photographers: Go out and shoot, but do not return home with more than one photo. Click the shutter more times, yes, but delete each photo if it is not perfect. Implementing this photography workout will teach photographers not to give up on a shot until it is perfect.
Ten Shots, One Subject
This workout works almost the opposite of the second exercise, but it has a similar purpose—keep shooting to capture the perfect shot. To practice this technique, find one subject and work to capture ten photos of that same subject before leaving. When something captures your eye, don’t leave until you have shot that same subject in ten different ways. As you practice your photography skills rather than simply shooting and hoping to improve, you will feel more confident in your ability to come out of any shoot with creative and technically-correct photos.