How To Maximize Your Photography With Easy Techniques

Some Photography Books, Yesterday
Image by Arty Smokes (deaf mute)
Over the past couple of years, I’ve read rather a lot of photography books. I’ve borrowed several from the library, but I also seem to have bought, inherited or been gifted quite a lot too. Most of the books you see on my staircase here were found in charity shops or on ebay, but there are a few I paid full retail price for, and some I ordered online to support flickr colleagues.

From left to right, top to bottom:
Mario Testino "Front Row Backstage". Not particularly interesting, actually. Just lots of snapshots (colour and B&W) of the glitterati getting their make-up done, or changing out of one stupid outfit and into another one.
Terry Richardson "Terryworld". Art or Porn? Who cares? Lots of harshly-lit snapshots of Terry and chums with very few clothes on. Your mother wouldn’t like it, but I do.
Gerry Badger "The Genius of Photography". A tie-in with the wonderful BBC TV series. It goes into great detail about the history of photography as an art form and features work by all the major players. As an introduction to the photographers who really mattered, it can’t be beaten.
John Hedgecoe’s "Introductory Photography Course". One of Hedgecoe’s standard reference works. Every photographer had a copy in the 1970s. It covers everything you’d learn on a university course in film photography. It’s showing its age now that digital is so widespread, but the techniques (including processing and printing) remain valid.
John Hedgecoe "Photographing People". In-depth look at portrait photography with hundreds of example photos, but to me it all boils down to getting the model to feel at ease.
Julian Calder "Making Pictures". A good introduction manual with "masterclasses" for particular genres (sport, portraits, still life etc.) Relevant to digital users, but I’ve read better books on composition by the likes of Lee Frost, Martin Freeman and Bryan Peterson.
Eric Kroll’s "Fetish Girls". This was a birthday present from a nymphomaniac Goth girl. Like much of Taschen’s output, it’s basically porn, and not the sort I’m keen on. If you like rubberwear and bondage, then fair enough, but there’s no real "art" in this book.
"C" (Connect magazine, from Fujifilm Professional). Features an article on Southend’s Dean Chalkley, who also took the front and back cover photos of my friends Jordan and Rosie.
"Inspiration". The first issue of "Publication" from Nick Turpin. Also came with some fabulous prints. Publication on flickr.
Scott Kelby "The Digital Photography Book 1-3". Book 1 is the biggest-selling photography manual of all time, and rightfully so. Kelby’s humour grates somewhat, but he packs more useful tips into his books than anyone else. I honestly think you’ll learn more about how to take a decent (digital) photo with Kelby’s series than you would by studying photography at university, or by using trial and error over a number of years. If you want to take wedding photos, landscapes or just snapshots of your family, and you want them to look professional, you need this book. Book 2 is more esoteric, with advice on studio lighting and various gadgets; book 3 even more so. But if you’ve only picked up a camera in the past 2 years, you NEED Kelby’s best-seller. (It helped me go from know-nothing to know-it-all in about 2 hours!)
Jim & Joan McKeown "Collectors Guide to Kodak Cameras". Specifications for every Kodak camera produced until 1980. Very useful for Camerapedia.
David Solomons "Underground". Wonderful candid photos taken on the tube. Flickr set only shows a few.
Photo Icons. From Taschen. A great set of famous photos and the fascinating stories behind them.
Martin Parr "Common Sense". A fabulous set of flash-lit macros in Parr’s inimitable style. Close-ups of tacky jewellery, mannequins, disgusting food, and the backs of people’s heads abound. Every shot is enjoyable. Parrworld
Charlotte Cotton "The Photograph as Contemporary Art". Contains too much post-modern bullshit (in the photos and the text) for my liking, but is a good round-up of what’s been happening to photography in the Art World in the past few years.
"Joachim Schmid is Martin Parr. Martin Parr is Joachim Scmid". Parr and Schmid (who both have flickr accounts) are mentioned in Cotton’s book. For this slim Blurb edition, Schmid took photos in Parr’s style, and Parr curated shots from one of the Parr-inspired groups on flickr. A couple of my contacts had pictures included. The title apparently came from a discussion in HCSP.
"20th Century Photography". Taschen compendium of the most interesting photos in the Museum Ludwig, Cologne.
"A History of Photography". A look through the fabulous archives of George Eastman House, with images from as far back as 1839.
Miss Aniela "Self Gazing". Glossy Photoshopped images by one of flickr’s stars. It’s a little too much to take in in one go, as it’s all self-portraits and the post-work is all-too obvious. Evidently Natalie has been commissioned to write a book about how to take self-portraits. Last time I checked, she barely knew her ISO from her elbow, so I hope she’s read some of the books I’ve recommended! 🙂
Tiffany Jones "Women in Mott Street". A great antidote to Miss Aniela’s work. This is a study of haggard old Chinese women in New York’s Chinatown, shot on film with a 24mm lens. Some of the faces are hilarious, some are scary, but all are characterful. It inspired me to try a similar thing in London last week. I bet my shots are crap in comparison though. :/ tijo’s flickr stream.
Kevin Meredith "Hot Shots". A how-to guide from the master of the LC-A, aka LomoKev. If this doesn’t inspire you to try out the rat’s eye view and other interesting perspectives, then nothing will.
John Garret "K.I.S.S. Guide to Photography". Basically it’s "Photography for Dummies", now in a smaller format and at a bargain price. Fine as an introductory manual, but already seeming out-dated. (It’s an APS camera on the front!)
Various freebie guidebooks from newspapers, Pentax and Canon. The sort of books that were given away with medium-spec compact cameras.
"Time Life Photographer’s Handbook". Small enough to fit in your pro-bag, but a half-decent photographer will have learned the important details by heart. Contains info on flash settings, depth of field, an exposure chart and home-development instructions.
Ronald Spillman "Discover Rewarding Photography – The Manual of Russian Equipment". This was published by Zenith UK and used in the marketing of various imported Soviet cameras including Zenit SLRs, FEDs, Zorkis and the Lubitel. Specifications for Soviet cameras and lenses are provided. It’s charmingly dated, with great examples of "bad fashion" and information like "The world’s press uses more pictures of pretty girls than any other subject. After all, they do make the world go round."


Are you interested in making a common pastime a serious artistic endeavor? Find out how your photography can be transformed from ordinary to incredible by following the advice in the below article. Professional photographers take great pictures but they also make improvement by developing photographs themselves. Here’s some hints on how you can be more professional.

Think about getting together with other photographers in a club. You can also just make a photographer friend to snap pictures with. You can learn from others and pick up new ideas, but avoid letting their style take over your own. Compare your pictures with others and see how photos of the same subject can appear different when taken by two different photographers.

While the resolution on phone cameras has increased significantly, lighting remains an issue. The majority of cellular phone cameras don’t contain built-in flashes. As a result, you must make sure your subject is properly positioned in order to maximize the available sources of light. Use zoom to keep shadows and sunspots out of the shot.

When preparing for a trip, pack your equipment carefully. Double check that you have packed any essential items such as lenses, batteries and cleaning tools. Don’t take 50 lenses when five will do, as this could bog you down when trying to carry your camera equipment from place to place.

Filters are extensions for your lenses. Filters can be easily screwed on the lens. They have numerous purposes. A UV filter is the most common type of filter. It protects and shields your camera’s lens against damage from direct sunlight. The filter can also minimize damage to the camera lens if you accidentally drop your camera.

Keep your photographic techniques simple and uncomplicated. Photographs can capture something wonderful, even without knowing how a single setting works.

If you want to take better pictures, start by reading the instruction manual that came with your camera. The manual is often a big, thick bulky brick. Therefore, most of the time they end up getting stuffed in a drawer or simply thrown in the trash. Rather than disposing of it, take some time and read it. You will avoid simple errors and improve your skill.

Whenever you’re taking a picture of a large subject, such as a structure or landscape, you may want to have people in your shot to add scale to your picture. Sometimes, a person or object that is familiar helps others realize the content of your photographs with respect to the relative size. If there is no point of reference that identifies a size that people are familiar with, they may interpret your photos in ways you did not intend.

Use your shutter speeds creatively. Most people use the fastest speed available to gain stills from action shots, but other speeds, like 1/30, can have interesting effects too. For example, suppose you are preparing to photograph a bicyclist in motion. You will get a perfect image of the cyclist, but the background will have interesting streaks showing speed.

Try to create a type of silhouette. Most silhouettes are created using a sunset. There are so many other ways to do it too though. A silhouette will appear if the background is a lot brighter than the subject. It’s easy to create a silhouette by simply getting behind the subject with an off-camera flash. Alternatively, you could place the subject in front of a window that has light streaming through. However, be aware that the silhouette image may call attention to a less-than-flattering aspect of your subject.

Learning how to use light and camera focus are all important to making your picture contain a stunning element. To produce stunning photos, follow the advice that was presented in this article.

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