147 photography techniques, tips and tricks for taking pictures of anything

Tip 61. Give yourself assignments

Fine-art photographer James Stanford says: "Sometimes knowing what to shoot is a big relief. Other times, being extemporaneous is the way to go. 

"I love to go out and see what the universe is presenting to me on any given day. Learning to be sensitive to what is out there with no preconceived idea is a wonderful way to discover new subject matter. 

"But only looking for the shot that presents itself in the moment seldom creates new technical skills. In order to master the camera, I give myself special assignments. Giving yourself an assignment helps you to learn about photography and your equipment. 

"By knowing what you want to achieve, you can plan things out. This way you can slow things down. Shoot and confirm. Take notes. Concentrate on getting the shot just right! You will learn to master Aperture Priority, shutter speed, ISO, manual settings, and more."

Tip 62. Research your subject

Nature photographer Roeselien Raimond says: "No matter whether it’s an animal you are trying to photograph or some kind of phenomenon, the more you know about your subject, the better you will be able to anticipate what’s to come. 

"Learn to know when animals breed, hunt and sleep. Find out when mist or thunder is likely to occur. It might cost some time, but it’s an investment that will pay off."

Tip 63. Explore!

Travel and urban photographer Nico Goodden says: "If you want to succeed as a photographer while always learning and never being bored, do not fear exploring other genres. 

"Instead, be wary of people who tell you to stick to a single genre or niche – it may not be the very best advice if you look at life as an opportunity to discover new things. 

"I have found that instead of hindering my development, shooting a multitude of genres has taught me many transferable skills and brought exciting new clients and commissions through the variety of what I shoot, eventually snowballing into even more unexpected commissions."

Tip 64. Choose your moments

Architectural and travel photographer Denys Nevozhai says: "The main thing I’ve learned about photography is to not be obsessed with photography, and shoot only the most worthwhile moments or scenes. 

"The realisation that you need to verify and edit too many photos will make you postpone the process, lose excitement and eventually pile all the set."

Tip 65. Think about light

Reportage and travel photographer Stuart Freedman says: "Light is key to photography. Learn to visualise the final image and move if it looks like it’s not going to work."

Tip 66. Relax and talk to people

Reportage and travel photographer Stuart Freedman says: "Great pictures aren’t usually luck. Often they’re the result of a negotiation between the photographer and subject. A smile goes a long way. Relax and, crucially, be honest. Explain what you’re doing: if people trust you, it’ll show."

Tip 67. Dreamy portraits

Fine-art photographer Lorna Yabsley says: "For dreamy portraits, open up your lens to the widest aperture, and shoot your subject into the light. Use exposure compensation to push your exposure and to expose for shadows."

Tip 68. Use a tripod

Natural history and wildlife photographer Adrian Davies says: "I always try to use a good solid tripod for my natural history work, particularly when I’m shooting subjects such as plants. 

"Not only do they hold the camera nice and still, enabling slow shutter speeds, but they also slow you down, making you look carefully at all parts of the frame for distracting items, and deciding on the correct aperture before releasing the shutter."

Read more: The best tripods for travel

Tip 69. Buy some smoked salmon!

Adrian Davies says: "I use a wide range of reflectors for bouncing light into shadow areas of subjects such as plants and fungi. One I use a lot with fungi in particular on dull autumn days are the pieces of card that come in smoked salmon packs, gold on one side. They give the subject a nice warm tone."

Tip 70. Visual missionary

Art photographer Paul Hill says: "The power of the medium to inform and reveal, whether publicly or privately, cannot be overestimated. Most of us see hundreds of photographs every day, but do we even look at one to find out what it ‘says’? 

"Photography is an essential part of modern life, with millions made every day, and thousands of manufacturers and service industries dependent on it. The effect on our civilisation is enormous.

"Practitioners should feel uncomfortable regurgitating clichés. They should be visual missionaries, converting the public to the importance of the medium with the power of their images. 

"Photography can be fun, of course, but its makers have to take it seriously. As well as being attracted to the unusual and unexpected, I am mindful of three things when making a photograph: frame, light and vantage point."

Tip 71. Part of a team

Wedding and commercial photographer Kate Hopewell-Smith says: "Learning to direct and pose are key skills for any people photographer, but successful portraiture is down to teamwork. 

"The photographer needs to give energy and enthusiasm – but so does the subject, or the results will not be as successful as they should be."

Tip 72. Speak out

Art photographer Cig Harvey says: "Bear in mind that your camera is a tool to help your creativity. I love the idea that our cameras are just expensive pencils – it is what we have to say that is important."

Tip 73. Be open

Street photographer Ryan Hardman says: "Don’t hide your camera when taking street images, because this often puts people on edge. Just have the camera around your neck and when you see someone exciting, bring the camera up to your eye and snap away. 

"If the subject stops you and asks why you are taking images of them, just politely explain why you have done so and the intentions of your image – for yourself, competitions or magazines."

Tip 74. Shoot with a theme in mind

Ryan Hardman says: "Often street photography can be lacking a theme, making the image the photographer has taken become weak or uninteresting. My best advice would be to think about a theme and reason for the capture of street photography other than because the subject was interesting. 

"This will in turn help when you’re confronted by a person who is outraged you have photographed them. Trust your gut – if the subject feels on edge and aggressive, don’t photograph them."

Tip 75. Be street-savvy and sensitive

Ryan Hardman says: "Street photography is not about proving we are in a better place than the subjects. My greatest advice would be to stay away from the homeless or disadvantaged, to make sure as photographers that we are not taking advantage or photographing subjects unethically."

Tip 76. Break the fourth wall

Street photographer Ryan Hardman says: “I used to ask for an image of the subject first, but now I take my images without asking – the reason for this is to create exciting subjects that break the fourth wall and look into the lens of the camera, which means the viewer will connect with the image.”

Tip 77. Have 'fill' light available

Wedding and commercial photographer Kate Hopewell-Smith says: “Location portraits come into their own when there is some beautiful back light to give separation and mood. 

"However, this does leave your subject’s face in shade, so use a reflector or an on-camera flash (probably in high-speed sync mode due to fast shutter speeds outside)."

Tip 78. Aim for a response

Travel photographer Lottie Davies says: “When processing your files, think about the emotional response of your audience. Do you want people to feel positive about the subject of the image? 

"If so you might tend towards warm, rich tones. If you’d like a sense of calm contemplation, consider a less punchy interpretation."

Tip 79. Follow your heart

Nature photographer Roeselien Raimond says: "I firmly believe that your photos reflect what you put into them. So if you choose a subject that you love and that truly fascinates you, this will show. Working from the heart will certainly improve your work."

Tip 80. Have a tale to tell

Documentary photographer Marc Wilson says: "The most important aspect of any photograph is the story behind it and whether it will be of interest to the viewer."

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