Above: Image by Gina Milicia
Digital technology has revolutionised photography in the same way that instant cake mix revolutionised the baking industry.
Before the invention of instant cake mix, baking was a tedious and messy task that required science and knowledge and skill. The great bakers used secret recipes handed down from generation to generation to create the perfect sponge.
The instant cake mix took all the guesswork out of baking. Simply add water, mix, bake, and enjoy! Suddenly anyone with an oven, a bowl and water was able to create the perfect sponge.
Today’s digital cameras are the instant cake mix of the photography industry. Inside every camera are all the ingredients necessary for a good photo. Just point and shoot. Your camera will add flash if the image needs it, work out the best shutter speed focus, and even process the shot in whatever style you like.
This is great, right?
Well, yes—if you enjoy taking photos that look like everyone else’s.
You see, the problem with levelling the playing field with cake in the box – I mean point and shoot images – is that anyone with a camera can take a decent photo.
Everyone gets to have their cake and eat it too!
If the idea of blending in and taking the same generic photos as Jan in accounts or your nanna appeals to you then you can stop reading now.
Still reading? Great, here are three ways to take your images to the next level.
Get off auto
A great baker will experiment with ingredients to create a signature recipe. They do this because they understand how the ratios of flour, eggs and milk influence the taste and look of their cake.
Shooting in manual mode gives you the freedom to manipulate the camera settings to create an image that is unique to you.
The best bakers in the world would not be caught dead using a packet mix.
The best photographers in the world shoot in manual mode.
Not all light is created equal
“Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” – George Eastman
Learning the difference between bad light, good light, and great light is a game changer.
At first all light looks the same but the more you keep shooting the more you notice the subtle differences in the quality of light.
Pay attention to the light, take notes and experiment. The best photographers know how to find the best light, manipulate or manufacture their own.
Pre-visualise your images
“Every once in a while a blind squirrel finds an acorn.”
If you walk around with a camera in your hand every day you are bound to get lucky at some point.
The spray and pray technique will give you good photos every now and then but it’s not consistent.
The best photographers plan their images, scout locations, look for the best light and then choose the decisive moment.