Fashion / Interviews

How to take better pictures

By gina jones, Tuesday May 5, 2015

Want to take your photography to the next level? Perhaps you’ve started that (Bristol-loving) blog and want to populate it with sharp images. With so many events and festivals coming up in Bristol over the next few months, it’s the perfect time to up your photography game and capture some of those magic moments. We asked some of our favourite local experts for their hints and tips to get you started.

Choose your camera carefully
So you’ve decided you want to invest in your photography, but what on earth should you buy? “If you’re just starting out, invest in either an entry level DSLR or a bridge camera, depending on how seriously you think you will take your hobby,” says Bristol based photographer Charlotte Stone.

“Bridge cameras are much more affordable, and have the ability to change settings but not lenses, so they can be slightly restrictive. Entry level DSLRs are slightly more expensive, but you can play with more of the settings on one of these, as well as change lenses so there is much more room to progress, if that is what you are after.”

Charlotte Stone


Be prepared
As well as your camera, if you’re taking photography seriously you’ll want to invest in a few key extras. “A good comfortable camera strap and a sturdy bag are golden, especially if you’re walking around all day, as all that kit begins to take its toll on your shoulders if you’re not careful,” says Bristol photographer Derryn Vranch.

“Also I always have the obvious array of memory cards and spare batteries on me. A smile and a friendly nature can also go a long way and are a very important part of your kit if you’re going to be photographing people!”

Find your light
Most photographers will tell you that getting the lighting right when you’re taking the photo is crucial. “Even if you’ve got the best camera in the world, bad lighting can ruin a photo. Whatever you’re using, even if it’s just your iPhone, try to use natural daylight as much as you can. This will make a huge difference to your shots,” advises Emily Fisher, who runs photo booth hire business Fishee Designs.

Fishee Designs


Get close to the action
“Always be ready to take a shot as things can develop fast and unexpectedly at festivals and outdoor events,” says Derryn. “Try to keep things simple and don’t try to overcomplicate kit and settings. Engage in the event and get in close. Festivals are an excellent time to take portraits. People are relaxed and happy and more open to being approached than during their day-to-day lives. Always ask permission though and smile!” 

Think about your composition and lens up accordingly
“The way you frame a shot, choose a focal length, or position a person in a frame can make all the difference. I always try to fill the frame with the subject being the main focus,” says Derryn. “Move closer or zoom to cut out unwanted parts of the scene. Try not to place the subject front and centre. Vary your composition and offset to the left or right to give your image more depth and story. For landscape images, I try to use natural lines that lead into the image, for example, a long road leading into the distance. This can help to draw the viewer into the image and create an almost three-dimensional sense of perspective.”

For me, what makes a great portrait is a low depth of field. I love blurred backgrounds and sharp focus points. I often use prime lenses, which help me achieve this effect,” says Charlotte.

Derryn Vranch


Try something new
The saying goes that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always get, and this is also true of photography, says Charlotte. “Creativity is what makes the difference between a lifeless photo and a great one. It can come down to trial and error sometimes – shoot from a different viewpoint, change the lighting just a little – don’t be afraid to mix things up. That’s what makes a photo interesting.”

“The more photographs you take, the more you’ll learn, so practice practice practice. There is no final exam for creativity, so you can continue to learn and develop as you go – that’s what makes photography so appealing,” says Derryn.

Swot up online
“You can learn lot on YouTube, especially when it came to finding different ways to light a shot. Watching other people’s tips and tricks can help inspire your own projects, so do spend some time researching techniques online if you can,” says Charlotte.


Free editing tools
Once you’ve got the snap, there are tricks you can use to make it look even better. “I use Photoshop personally and if you can afford to invest in it then I would recommend getting to know how to use it. But on a more basic level there are some great apps that make editing photos really easy, such as Afterlight. The majority of my blog photos are edited with Afterlight on my iPad and transfer and resized using Photoshop,” says Emily.

Pick a speciality
There’s so much information and so many resources online for photography that getting started can be daunting. They key to success, according to Derryn, is to narrow your focus and perfect one thing; “Try to pick an area of your photography you feel you would like to learn more of, or look at an area you want to improve in and concentrate on that and practice hard. Setting yourself a smaller task in the short-term can make you better overall in the long-term”.

Fancy trying out your photography skills at some events this summer? Check out our What’s On pages for ideas of where to go.


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