Tuesday, 21 August 2012

10 Questions to Ask Yourselves Before Taking a Digital Photo

Most everybody wants to take amazing pictures, they just don’t know how. They’ll look at work of others and say wow. But even then the majority won’t spend a minute analysing what is it that makes this picture special? Why did it appeal to me? What message did it convey? What is it that the photographer did to make it so interesting?

So the key to better pictures is an ever inquisitive mind. Keep asking yourselves about each and every element in a picture and in little time you will see that this habit has indeed changed the way you even approach a potential subject. Let us discuss some questions you need to ask yourselves before you actually press the shutter.

1. What is My Story

A picture is worth 1000 words is an old saying and it’s true to the core. Photography could be an important medium for storytelling. It could convey ideas, messages, emotions, moods and much more. Before pressing the shutter; ask yourselves - what is it that I am going to tell through this picture? What is my story here? How best could I convey it? The answer you get from your inner self has guidelines that will help you decide the answers for most of the following questions.

emotional portrait
Photo By Doskoch Dima

2. What are My Main Focal Points

Frame the picture in your mind, think of elements which will immediately grab the attention of the viewers. They are your focal points, in many cases there will be more than one focal point in a shot. In such cases you need to think of whether to include or exclude them from the frame, where to place them, how much should be in focus, etc. Multiple focal points adds depth and dimension to an image, but it should be arranged in such a way that it does not make the picture feel cluttered and compete for the viewers attention with the main focal points.

focal points
Photo By Phil H

3. Where do I Place My Focal Points

Where you place your main focal points is one of the major factors affecting the composition of your shots. Compositional guidelines like the Rule of Thirds could come in handy to help you decide on the exact placement of your main focal points.

environmental portrait
Photo By Severin Sadjina

4. How will the Viewers Eye Travel Through My Picture

When people actually look at a picture there are don’t stay still, in fact they keep moving from one point to the other, generally they are attracted by colours and shapes and they also tend to follow lines. In between they need points to rest on. Ask yourselves which element in my shot will attract the viewer’s attention most, where will his/her eye travel next and then where will they rest. Do spend a second to consider this while composing your pictures.

Photo By Obikani

5. What constitutes My Foreground and Background

Give special attention to elements in both the foreground and background of your picture, look out for any distractions, decide on how much of these should be in focus and how much is to be blurred etc. do consider the options available on scene before clicking the shutter.

environmental portraiture
Photo By Ametxa

6. How is My Subject Lit

Observe the lighting on scene, what is the primary light source, its size relative to the subject, its distance from the subject, angle, intensity etc. also look out for reflections. Overall lighting should be taken into consideration, is there enough light? Can I use artificial lights (Flash)? Etc. Also do observe the contrast in a scene, make sure it is within the dynamic range of your camera. If else look for ways to solve the issues like using Graduated Neutral Density Filters, using Fill Lights etc.

backlit portrait
Photo By Mexico Rosel

7. What Aperture / Shutter speed should I Use

Aperture and Shutter speed values are based on the kind of effect you would like to give your photo. Depth of field needed for a shot determines it’s Aperture and Movement (whether to capture it or freeze it) decides the Shutter Speed for the shot. Your answer to question No 1 may help you make a decision here.

insect on a yellow flower
Photo By Viamoi

8. What are the Alternatives available to My Perspective

 Always look for alternate point of views. There are many to be explored beyond the obvious. Vary your angle, height from which you shoot, change your perspective, shoot both vertical and horizontal compositions, try changing the background by moving the camera position, shoot from high above, shoot from very low angle, try tilting the frame etc. Do not leave a scene if you are not convinced you have explored the subject to its full potential.

perspective in photography
Photo By Spyros P

9. Am I Close Enough

One of the most common mistakes made by amateur photographers is to take a shot from where the first see a subject or scene. You will end up with a shot in which the subject only makes a small portion of it and so becomes UN-noticeable. Ask yourself Am I Close Enough For This Shot; if the answer is yes do click your picture and if your answer is no consider any of the following
  1.     Move closer to your subject
  2.     Use a Longer Focal Length Lens
  3.     Make the Subject Move Closer to You

sharp photo
Photo By Today is a good day

10. Is there Something that I Could Add or Subtract from the Frame

This point has a close relation to the 5th point (regarding background and foreground). Before taking a picture spend some time to analyse your frame, think of any distractions that could be avoided (sometimes you will find that there is some garbage like an empty cigarette packet lying in what constitutes your background), think of anything if introduced to the frame will make it even better (consider using some props that would add value to your frame) if you are shooting someone and they are unsure of what to do with their hands (happens more when people are nervous) do give them something to hold on. But make sure what you take away or add to your frame fits the natural scene and does not stand out like an item that just don’t belong there.

photography tutorial
Photo By Ayashok Photography

In the next article we will discuss about Photography - Tips For Beginners - Top Ten Tips for Digital Photographers

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