Professional photography has always been a sought career, as well as a much-pursued hobby. Pulling this off in the best way possible is a feat that is rare until you learn the proper techniques.
Perhaps you have the creativity, but you may lack some much-needed skills with your camera if you want to go pro and expand your talent as a photographer into a fully functioning business.
Here we will discuss and explain 15 technical skills that make up the overall repertoire of a photographer.
Technical Photography Skills That Give You The Edge
The thing about professional photographers is that they understand the functions of their cameras inside out. It gives them complete control over what they’re doing, while fully understanding which direction to take their images.
Following are some key factors you need to master to improve your photography skills.
Exposure is how much light you allow your camera to take in when you click images. Controlling the amount of exposure can allow you to adjust the brightness, contrast, and finer details of the image, depending on the lighting conditions. The exposure of an image is controlled by 3 separate functions.
ISO Sensitivity – Defining the camera’s sensitivity to light, ISO controls the amount of light or brightness of the click. If you’re shooting in a low-light environment, you will need to amp up your ISO to higher levels, allowing your camera to capture more light. Conversely, brightly lit images might require you to tone down the ISO to lower values.
Aperture – The aperture setting on your camera controls the amount of light that enters your shutter by controlling how wide it opens. This allows you to control the depth of field, or increase sharpness for images that are closer by controlling the amount of light.
It is usually represented by an f-number, whereas, a higher f-number allows less light to enter the camera, and allows you to capture a wider depth of field, making objects farther away sharper, while a lower f-number corresponds to a wider opening, allowing more light, and lowering the depth of field, allowing you to focus on close range objects with optimum sharpness.
Shutter Speed – The shutter speed determines how long your shutter remains open when you click images, controlling the brightness, and sharpness of an image.
If your shutter remains open for shorter intervals (e.g., 1/1000, 1/60) measured in fractions of second, lower amounts of light reach the sensor, while freezing motion, making the image sharp, while a higher value will leave the lens open for longer periods to allow more light to hit the sensor. A lower shutter speed may produce images with motion blur if not stabilized.
Mastering Depth of Field
If you’ve paid heed to the previous point, you probably already know how to control the depth of field using your aperture, but understanding when to use which f value is what you will need to master.
When clicking images, you will need to ascertain the distance between you, and the subject, while keeping in mind where you will need to focus. Sure, using autofocus can help you get crisp images no matter the situation, but if you learn to do it on your own, the results will be optimum.
A professional photographer will always know his frame and my frame, we mean the entire composition of the image. This involves looking at the angle, viewpoint, and other aspects that determine the placement of the subject, and other elements in the image. To know and understand the composition of your frame, you will need to keep a few key points in mind.
Rule of Thirds: If you divide your image using 3×3 grids, you get several intersections called “power points”. Placing your subject somewhere in these power points gives you the perfect shot. This rule of composition called the rule of thirds, allows you to effectively capture powerful images.
Leading Lines: To put a better focus on your subject, you need leading lines, which is a concept of having actual or implied lines, that lead directly to the subject to add depth, incite a sense of movement and guide the viewer’s gaze.
Framing: If your image has objects that encompass your subject, then you’re doing the step of framing right. It is what it says, simply having objects that surround your subject adds depth, and context, and draws attention toward the focal point.
Symmetry and Balance: Images are all about aesthetics and how they trigger your visual prowess to portray a message. Symmetry and balance in an image are added to create a sense of aesthetic that pleases the eye. Having varying elements of visual weight, and adding reflections, or centering the subject creates a sense of symmetry and balance, which adds to the depth of your clicked images.
Point of View: A creative and professional photographer will always look for new ways to add depth, definition, and interpretation to their images using different points of view. Whether it is at a low angle (worm’s eye view), even-angled (eye level view) or a high angle (bird’s eye view), incorporating any of these will instantly boost the appeal of your shots.
Negative Space: Adding voids, or empty spaces in your images is probably one of the best ways photographers use to draw attention and focus on the subject. Negative space can allow an image to have more emphasis on the subject, and simplify it to soothe the senses of the viewer.
Manual Focus: Being able to correctly focus your shots on the subject is an art that was previously made easy using autofocus features available in every camera, but it still lacks depth. Knowing how you can incorporate depth into your images, and focus deeply on the subject will instantly add to the appeal of your images. Playing around with the aperture will allow you to get the hang of it with ease.
One of the biggest mistakes made by amateur photographers is ignoring white balance. When it comes to the perfect color representation, it isn’t always easy to get the best results if you don’t focus on getting the right white balance.
There are countless different lighting conditions with their hue and saturation which the camera tries to balance out. Find out the ideal white balance, play around with presets, and get the best out of each shot through thorough study and experimentation.
Learning Metering Modes
Metering Modes on your camera allow you to apply the right exposure that helps the camera put more focus and emphasis on the subject while changing the aspects of the image to allow the subject to truly lend into the atmosphere. Depending on the image, there are metering modes that focus on different parts of the subject to bring out the best exposure.
If you’ve mastered manual focus, why would you need to study autofocus? Autofocus has its uses and its intent was to allow photographers to quickly focus on a subject and click pics right away without wasting time. This is especially important, allowing you to capture opportune moments that would otherwise pass you by if you were adjusting your aperture.
Long Exposure Techniques
Long exposure shots have always created intricate pieces of art and it goes beyond the normal when you may want to capture objects that are beyond the power of the eyes to see. Learning to master long exposure shots will allow you to capture the beauty of the cosmos, as well as other darkly lit scenes.
However, you must remember its limitations, since it isn’t meant for fast-moving subjects, and will end up producing intense levels of motion blur.
Capturing moments in their prime is the main objective of photographers, and when you have subjects that are moving too fast, it becomes an absolute challenge.
Get hold of your camera, steady your hands, and steel your nerves to click shots at the right time, using the right settings, because there’s nothing more challenging than high-speed photography. It will take time and effort before you attune your senses to capture images at just the right time.
A flash is a powerful tool that could influence and alter the output of each click. It has the power to enhance the image, while also possessing the element that ruins it completely. Mastering how and when to use your flash will put you in a spot above the rest.
Know when natural lighting does the trick, and when adding flash will exponentially improve your shots, Get the right amount of exposure, and practice each shot with precision, since every makes and model of camera has varying degrees of capabilities.
Understanding Lens Distortion
Your camera probably came with an array of lenses, or you’ve probably bought some extras to compliment your collection. However, knowing how to use each lens is the wisdom that only professionals possess.
Once you can get a grip on how these lenses work, and what effect they have on the final output, you will begin to produce images that rival even the best. Learn lens distortion and you will truly have opened a whole new world of possibilities with photography.
HDR (High Dynamic Range) Photography
Your camera’s abilities cannot surpass that of your eyes. You may see a scene that has varying degrees of contrast and brightness in detail, yet, when you try and capture that image using your camera, it doesn’t quite turn out right.
To counter this issue, HDR photography plays an integral role. It takes a series of photographs with different levels of exposure to give you optimum results through automatic merging. You could manually do this as well and get even better results. Mastering the use of HDR can substantially boost your photography skills, and it is only a matter of practice. Nail HDR photography, and broaden your perspectives as a professional photographer.
Filters may sound odd, but they add a certain flavor to your image output. They also add narratives to your images by adding color tints, or highlights that work on their own to provide context. Mastering the use of filters can boost your photography, and allow your audience to grasp the essence of each click with precision.
RAW Image Processing
No click can bypass the step of RAW Image Processing. Whether you’re a professional or an enthusiast, you will always find issues with your clicks that will need correction.
If you’re well versed in your photography, you will know and understand what your image is missing and could lay it all down. Learning this skill is sure to put you on another level as an aspiring photographer.
Image Stabilization Techniques
Nobody likes shaky or blurred images, and to counter this, there is lots of equipment that help photographers stabilize their shots. Reducing camera shake and tilt has always ruined the greatest of shots, and a photographer must hone their skill to use the right mix of equipment and posture to get the right shot.
Other Skills That Boost Your Photography
Breaking into the photography industry is challenging, and can pose a lot of obstacles along the way. Even if you possess technical skills, you will still be tested in various fields that determine the professionalism of a photographer.
Here are some of the vital skills a photographer needs before they can make an impact.
Timeliness in photography is as important as showing up to your clients on time. Sometimes it can be the deciding factor between a good photoshoot, and a wasted day. You are bound to lose hours of excellent natural light if you fail to show up late. Keep track of your routine, stick to your timing, and you’ll be getting a lot more than just satisfied clients.
Communication skills are a necessity in pretty much every field of expertise. No matter what you do, being able to communicate yourself will allow you to open countless possibilities and solve numerous problems.
You should first be able to negotiate and interview your clients on what they need while also being able to command and direct your subject to get the perfect shot. Learn thorough communication and pave your way to effective photography.
Artistic Prowess and Uniqueness
Photographer thirsts for art, and their thirst guides them to uncharted territories that make up the uniqueness of their work. As a photographer, you have your style and techniques.
Knowing how to fully employ your strong suits will weigh in your favor when contesting with the countless photographers out there. Technical imperfections could always have a workaround and you must do your best to produce your art.
Attention to Detail
Being meticulous about your work is never considered nitpicking if you’re willing to include yourself among the all-time greats. Always have a mindset that looks to bring out the best in every shot by investing time to look deeply into the details.
Practicing the skill of looking into every little pixel of each shot might as well open new doors of opportunities for you.
Post-Production Skills Training
Image post-production is simply a fancy name for image editing. If you’re a photographer with the required skills to edit and touch up images, it will instantly boost your reputation and allow you to bring out the output your artistic thought has been thirsting for.
However, if you’re booked all around the clock, it may be difficult for you to undertake photo editing tasks, in which case, you could easily employ professional photo editors, and use your communication skills to convey to them what you need.
Knowing Your Equipment
Your weapon of choice (camera) dictates your career path. This statement may not be so true, but what does stand true is the potent ability of your equipment. Buying millions worth of equipment is money wasted unless you can truly grasp the capabilities they progress.
Sometimes it doesn’t take more than a cellphone camera to take great shots, and if you know your way around your device, you could work wonders.
All around the world, there are renowned academies offering courses for aspiring photographers. It may amaze you to realize how much there is to know when you get down into the field, and once you get a hold of the knowledge, and its implementation, you will never see photography the same way ever again.
Keep Practicing and Hone Your Talent
Lastly, the talent is within you, and all you have to do is practice and hone your abilities. It is said hard work beats talent, and if you’ve got what it takes, and the equipment you’ll need, the next course of action is to start clicking away to your heart’s content.
The more shots you click, the more you know your device, and the more you will realize how you can make it all perfect.
For all the aspiring photographers out there, go out, capture the world through your lens, and let us be the witnesses to your greatness!