Being a new photographer can be a bit daunting. Especially if you don’t yet have a defined focus or style.
One of the best ways to study photography is simply to pick up a camera and take as many photos as you can.
This will help you get your footing. You will learn what excites you, what style and equipment you prefer, and other key things that can help define your path.
If you get stuck finding subject matters to focus on, here are 10 things to photograph to get back on track.
1. Things around your home
These inanimate objects may seem uninteresting at first, but you can use perspective, lighting, depth of field, and other photographic techniques to breath life into everyday items. You can even start to combine materials to create a unique image and tell a story.
Find a local park or overlook to take in some natural scenery — and consider going at sunrise or sunset. These times of day offer beauty, color, and more diffused light than mid-day sun, making it the optimal window to shoot outdoors.
If you prefer the urban jungle, take pictures of stylized buildings. Old, classic architecture can offer ornate details and options for close-up images. In contrast, modern structures are best captured from a distance — to appreciate the clean lines and overall aesthetic.
Take advantage of what’s in front of you — be it your own culinary creations or that fancy date-night dinner — and practice arranging food in a flattering and appetizing way. This usually means getting up close and bringing out the vibrant colors. If at home, take pictures as you cook to demonstrate the full steps of making a meal.
Once you have mastered photographing objects, take it one step further and move on to pets. This is a bit more challenging, so be sure to have the photo planned out before getting your furry friend to participate. Encourage them to sit still and look at the camera by holding a treat above the lens. You can reward them after each click of the shutter.
You can start by taking self-portraits, or solicit help from willing family and friends. Since it can be intimidating to be in front of a camera, be sure to give your subjects some direction. Talk to them and make them feel comfortable. You will get a more graceful portrait.
After checking off some of these literal subjects, challenge yourself with more abstract ideas, like the ones below. Instagram’s Weekend Hashtag Projects can provide additional inspiration.
Photographers are almost always looking for the light. But try flipping that rule on its head and make shadows the focal point. In order to create a clean outline, use a recognizable shape and have the light positioned directly behind your subject with a non-distracting background.
Capture something as it is moving and try different techniques. There are primarily two different approaches. The first is to take a picture with a fairly slow shutter speed and have the object in motion be blurred as it goes by. Conversely, you can use a technique called panning to move your camera in time with the moving subject, so that they are all in focus and the background is obscured.
9. Night photography
Add another level of difficulty by shooting at night. Capture natural light from the moon and stars or from artificial lights. Of course, less light means adjusting your settings to a longer shutter speed, so use a tripod or other flat surface to avoid blur.
Rather than thinking about the subject itself, consider the things that make up the focal point. What makes it visually interesting? Maybe you’re drawn to the color, texture, balance, negative space, rhythm, or overall form.
All of these will help you better understand the many aspects of photography and hopefully find your favorite subjects in the process. Happy shooting.
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Author Kim Garrison’s official title is Account Specialist at Cision. She is also a snowboarder, photographer, and Washington Capitals fan.