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Several important things go into capturing a moment and creating a professional-level photo. The good news is you don’t need to be a pro to do it.
Learning how to take professional photos elevates what you’re able to achieve with your camera and allows you to capture the moments that matter most to you and your loved ones.
Professional photos can be stunning works of art and they are not always easy to accomplish. If you’ve ever wondered how to take professional photos without spending years apprenticing for a professional photographer, read on to learn some of the top tips from the pros.
Learn the Basics of Adobe Lightroom
Understanding just the basics of Adobe Lightroom editing software will help you step up your photo game. You need to use a RAW image file and then use the photo editing program to fine-tune the shot.
This can seem daunting at first but gives you the best result once you get the hang of things. You’ll also have more options and be able to play around with various things as you learn.
Light Can Be Good and Bad
If there’s one thing you need to know about lighting, it’s that it’s very important. Too little and your photo is dark and unremarkable but, if it’s too bright, that can ruin a photo shoot, too.
This is one of the reasons why the so-called “golden hour” is such a great time to take photos. Warm, flattering light is better than harsh abundant light every time. It prevents harsh shadows and won’t wash out your picture.
Understanding light and how to work with it is one of the most important things you can do if you want to learn how to take professional photos.
A Spot Meter Helps You Get a More Professional Photo
Spot metering samples the brightness of a small screen area and lets you select the precise portion of the scene for basing your exposure. Using a spot meter results in a more precise exposure.
Scenes that don’t average out to a standard of 18 percent reflectance won’t be a problem as it would be with average metering.
Bracketing Gives you the Best Exposure
Bracketing is the practice of shooting scenes at several exposures and then choosing the best one. Shooting a bracket of alternate exposures under and over what you think would be the best exposure means you get it right even if your initial instinct is off.
Using the Right Lens
There is no such thing as the perfect lens. What lens is the best depends on the situation and the type of photography, which changes from occasion to occasion.
Buying lenses separate from your camera body and understanding which lens is ideal for each situation improves your end result.
Understand How Aperture Controls the Depth of Field
Aperture controls the flow of light through the lens and affects your depth of field which can lead to big changes in how your final photo looks. The smaller the aperture, the greater the depth of field.
Understanding how the depth of field plays a role in photographs and how changing the aperture changes the depth of field will result in more professional-looking photographs.
Controlling Digital Chaos
Shooting at a high ISO increases the exposure and alters the grain of the photo. Test your specific camera and see how high the ISO goes before there’s a distortion in quality.
Snapping several shots at different ISO settings beginning at 100 and going up to the max on your camera lets you compare each image when editing and determine which works best for your camera.
Calibrate Lenses to Your Camera
Lenses focus manually or automatically so you can choose which level of control you have. This can be good or bad depending on several factors. The best way to ensure you get the right focus is to calibrate each of your lenses to your camera body.
Calibrate Your Monitor for the Best Editing
While you’re calibrating, calibrate your monitor, too. It’s common for even high-quality photos to look different on your desktop screen than they do on your phone or laptop.
By calibrating your monitor, you ensure that you’ll see the true color, saturation, and brightness of the photo. There are monitor calibration tools available to help you with this process.
Here’s our guide to monitor calibration.
Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is one of the most common photography tips that you may already know as an amateur photographer. There are different rules of composition you can use but the rule of thirds tends to work best for beginner to intermediate photographers who want to take a professional photograph.
This principle divides an image into nine equal parts and placing the important elements of the photo along the parallel lines of division or their intersecting parts.
Know and Use the Inverse Square Law
The Inverse Square Law states that the intensity of light is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source. This means that doubling the distance from the light source reduces the intensity to 1/4, not to 1/2.
Regarding your photos, doubling the distance between the light source and the subject reduces the brightness by two stops.
Diffusers are Your Friends
Do you know why you get great shots on cloudy days? It’s because the clouds diffuse the light and filter out the harshest rays. When there are no clouds, you can use a diffuser to soften the light and get the best possible image.
Use Reflectors to Deal with Shadows
Knowing how to control contrast by using light and shadows has a significant impact on the professionalism of your photos. A professional reflector kit allows you to change to gold, white, black, or silver depending on your needs or you can make your own reflectors with poster boards.
Try a Gray Card to Improve White Balance
Gray cards help you determine the proper exposure and ensure that your white balance is correct. Using a gray card provides a standardized reflectance target.
Learning how to take professional photos takes time and practice, but as you incorporate each of these tips, your photographs will improve in quality and you’ll gain confidence.