I am, by all measurements, a bad photographer. Which is more about not being a good photographer than about having some inherent inability to take good looking photographs.
I’ve decided that I should get better.
Here’s what I’ve learned to date:
- Symmetry is over-valued; more often than not, asymmetrically composed photos look better. This goes against my better judgment, but it’s true.
- The camera is not you. In other words, the process of taking a photo is not the process of simply recording what your eye sees. This was a big lesson for me. Think of the camera as a complicated paint brush.
- Understanding how light works is important. Common sense, this one. But I have no understanding of light, and this is crippling me. I need to learn.
- Early morning and late in the day are good times to take pictures. This is contrary to what I would think, as these are times of “low light.” But the pictures look better. Perhaps for the same reason that cinematographers talk about the “golden hour” at the end of the day? See these examples by Steven.
- Taking pictures of faces head-on makes people look flat. I learned this from The New Yorker, in an article on film.
- Photos that are out of focus when large can look pretty good when digitally shrunk. The photo of me on this page was horribly out of focus full-size, and I would have thrown it out but for the fact that I mistakenly downsized it, and it came out looking very interesting. Go figure.
More as I learn.