Your shots not only cap­ture the atten­tion of the view­er, but also make you con­stant­ly remem­ber your­self, arouse inter­est and desire to see more of your works — and now you open your own exhi­bi­tions one by one … Sounds excit­ing and tempt­ing? If yes, then rather grab the cam­era and try out the tech­niques that we will talk about in a moment.

Pho­to: pixabay.com


First, let’s talk about the tech­ni­cal knowl­edge and tricks that many pro­fes­sion­al and ama­teur pho­tog­ra­phers use. If you’re just get­ting start­ed shoot­ing, they’ll def­i­nite­ly come in handy. And if it’s not the first time you look into the lens, then it’s still a good idea to refresh your knowl­edge.

“Exposure Triangle”

Dia­gram of the expo­sure tri­an­gle. Author’s image

The first and fore­most thing every pho­tog­ra­ph­er needs to know is the expo­sure tri­an­gle. Any pro­fes­sion­al or semi-pro­fes­sion­al cam­era has three main indi­ca­tors that deter­mine the frame set­tings. These are aper­ture, shut­ter speed and ISO. Aper­ture decides how much light you let through to the matrix. Excerpt shows how long it will take to take a pic­ture. ISO reflects the over­all illu­mi­na­tion of the image. All three char­ac­ter­is­tics inter­act with each oth­er. Learn how they affect each oth­er and make it a habit to pay atten­tion to them.

Shooting accessories

If you are just start­ing out and are into por­traits and stu­dio pho­tog­ra­phy (not nec­es­sar­i­ly in the stu­dio), then you should imme­di­ate­ly get two items: a dif­fuser and a reflec­tor.

The first is to reduce the harsh light from the flash, since it usu­al­ly gives a flat pic­ture. The dif­fuser makes the shad­ows soft­er, and the pho­to acquires a real­is­tic vol­ume.

The reflec­tor is often used for sub­ject por­traits. Light is direct­ed at it and reflect­ed back onto the object. There are sev­er­al types of cov­er­age, and each gives its own result. A set of reflec­tors, small in size, is quite inex­pen­sive, but you will imme­di­ate­ly notice how effec­tive the shots will look. Do not ignore pho­tog­ra­phy acces­sories, they can be very use­ful.

Burst shooting

A burst­ing soap bub­ble can only be cap­tured by con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing. Pho­to: flickr.com

If you have not yet learned how to catch the moment, but you want to get dynam­ic shots, then try burst shoot­ing. Of course, this mode is not a “mas­ter­piece” but­ton, but you can get very inter­est­ing results with it. This is great, for exam­ple, when you shoot fast-mov­ing sub­jects: cars, sports par­tic­i­pants, ani­mals, even water splash­es. Usu­al­ly the dynam­ics are not easy to catch, espe­cial­ly on a SLR cam­era, but in burst mode, half of the tasks will be done by the cam­era for you. It remains only to crop the pic­ture, and you’re done: you have an unex­pect­ed and unique pho­to in your hands, the chance to take it is one in a mil­lion.


Let’s move on to an equal­ly impor­tant ele­ment of shoot­ing — fram­ing. How to make it visu­al­ly pleas­ing? Now we will tell every­thing.


It takes prac­tice to look at the stage and see the frame. But how to get it? Every­thing is very sim­ple: mas­ters of paint­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy have already done this work for us. There­fore, care­ful­ly study their results: see what works and how. Attend exhi­bi­tions, even vir­tu­al ones online, if you can’t go to the real ones. Buy art books and pho­to books, you will find inspi­ra­tion and ideas for future pic­tures in them.


Love sto­ry series and wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phy are great for get­ting ideas on how to cap­ture details and set the mood for a shoot. Pho­to: countryliving.com

Nev­er try to frame every­thing at once. If you have a lot of ele­ments in front of you, a lot of col­ors, try focus­ing on one. For exam­ple, an exot­ic spice rack can look inter­est­ing both shot in its entire­ty and reflect­ed through one ele­ment. In gen­er­al, some­times a sin­gle detail can say more than the full scene. This tech­nique is often used by wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phers when shoot­ing pil­lows with rings, dress pat­terns, ele­ments of the groom’s suit. This is a very con­ve­nient and effec­tive way to con­vey the mood, espe­cial­ly if you are shoot­ing a series. Think of it as a sto­ry, because all the great authors some­times digress from the main plot for the sake of a seem­ing­ly insignif­i­cant clar­i­fi­ca­tion.

Do it your way

In pho­tog­ra­phy cours­es or pro­fes­sion­al advice, you can often find very strict rec­om­men­da­tions about com­po­si­tion. Of course, they will be use­ful and it is always worth try­ing to apply them. But you can con­vey your own vision of the frame only if you some­times break these rules. Por­traits don’t always need to be shot ver­ti­cal­ly and land­scapes hor­i­zon­tal­ly. Rotate the cam­era the way you see fit, and some­times make slight mis­takes in com­po­si­tion, because they are some­times the very thing that gives the pho­to per­son­al­i­ty. Try and exper­i­ment, because the rules often dri­ve cre­ativ­i­ty into the frame­work.


And of course, let’s move on to prac­ti­cal tech­niques that will turn an ordi­nary sub­ject into an artis­tic pho­to­graph, and maybe even into a real piece of art.

Experimenting with bokeh

The eas­i­est way to make a fil­ter for bokeh. Pho­to: thethingswellmake.com

Sure­ly you have come across frames with unusu­al bokeh: not just iri­des­cent cir­cles or strong back­ground blur, but stars, snowflakes, hearts. All this can be done with lens set­tings or spe­cial acces­sories. By the way, you can actu­al­ly make them your­self. In fact, for unusu­al bokeh, a lens attach­ment with a cutout in the cen­ter is used. It is from this hole that the out­lines of the bokeh ele­ments will depend. Some pho­tog­ra­phers buy ready-made noz­zles, while oth­ers sim­ply cut them out of black card­board.

Try this tech­nique to cre­ate an abstract pho­to or a fes­tive mood in the frame.


The water sur­face, mir­rors and glass cre­ate incred­i­ble effects in the pho­to. With the help of reflec­tions, you can break the space or change the pic­ture in such a way as to cre­ate inter­est­ing com­po­si­tions.

Any exper­i­ments with reflec­tive sur­faces can give you unpre­dictable results. For exam­ple, a sim­ple pud­dle might look like a lake, a win­dow to anoth­er world, or an abstract mir­ror. Glass gives glare that enrich­es the pic­ture. And how styl­ish look shoot­ing through rain­drops! Our advice is to try and invent dif­fer­ent tech­niques, see what hap­pens.

Screens and projectors

Using the pro­jec­tor, you can cre­ate unusu­al back­grounds, while absolute­ly any. Pho­to: Kea­gan Hen­man / unsplash.com

If you are tired of the usu­al pho­to back­ground in the back­ground, come up with your own. In prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy, a sim­ple tech­nique is often used: the mon­i­tor screen as a back­ground. If its sur­face is mat­te, then glare will not inter­fere with you. The basis for the back­ground will be any image that you can find, such as your pic­tures. This tech­nique helps to empow­er the pho­tog­ra­ph­er even with lim­it­ed resources.

Anoth­er favorite tech­nique is shoot­ing with a pro­jec­tor. It is com­mon­ly used by beau­ty pho­tog­ra­phers and por­trait painters. Take any pic­ture and project it onto a white wall, against which the mod­el is stand­ing. Depend­ing on which image you choose, you can get a roman­tic, brood­ing or social­ly sig­nif­i­cant frame. After all, this is how bright pho­tos and mag­a­zine cov­ers are often made. Try it too.

Shoot more often

The most impor­tant thing that every pho­tog­ra­ph­er should do to make his shots bet­ter and more orig­i­nal is to con­stant­ly shoot. It is expe­ri­ence that gives you a clear under­stand­ing of what works best, what and how you like to pho­to­graph, how to solve prob­lems that arise. And most impor­tant­ly, by con­stant­ly real­iz­ing your pho­to fan­tasies, you learn to lis­ten to your intu­ition and even­tu­al­ly become a real pro­fes­sion­al.