Modern camera equipment is so user friendly. It’s really easy to pick up your phone, point and shoot or your mirror-less and just shoot. Even grabbing your dslr and taking a few snaps is easy. However, I am frequently encouraging customers on our Chiang Mai Photography Tours workshops not to only be taking snap shots.
Plan to take your camera out, knowing where you are going and what you want to photograph. Pick a good time of day for the location when the light is right. If your location includes some activity, check when the optimum time to capture the action is. With our photography workshops we often shoot at the fresh markets in the morning because it’s a busy time of day with lots of activity and the light is lovely.
A good discipline is to take one camera and one lens only, preferably a prime lens. Keeping your gear simple like this will help you focus on your chosen subject. You’ll think more about lighting, getting your exposure bang on, point of view and composition and capturing the action just at the right moment.
When you arrive at your location set your camera up for the lighting conditions and the mode you want to start shooting in. Now, before you take any photos, look around you. Look at the light, think about the best points of view to shoot from and how it will look through your lens. Picture a few different compositions from various places. Think about the action, if there is any. What’s happening? Is there repetition? Can you put yourself in one position and wait there patiently for a great shot? Anticipate the images you want and be prepared when the time is right to catch the ‘decisive moment’.
Narrow down your options, be more selective before you press the shutter release. Pick a theme to photograph. Maybe just one color, people wearing hats, focus on hands – the choice is endless, but you will most likely make stronger images if you limit your subject. My first visit to the Chutuchuck weekend market in Bangkok was a wonderful experience. I was quite overwhelmed with everything, so I decided to just focus on shooting the mannequins. It was a lot of fun!
Once you’ve found yourself in a favorable shooting situation, stay there a while. Experiment with different camera settings. Open your aperture as wide as you can. Slow your shutter speed down and introduce some motion blur. Pop in a little fill flash. You’ll be surprised at the variety of images you can create if you just take your time and enjoy taking photos.