Today, I'm talking to you about three important photography rules.
Every professional photographer had to learn his craft somewhere, somehow.
Just like you, there was a day when even the best of photographers picked up their cameras for the first time and had no clue about how to use them. Decades later, people are pouring through the internet to see and admire their work.
No person alive is born with a knowledge of their craft. And that goes for techniques and rules of photography.
In this post, I want to introduce you to three of what I consider some of the most important rules in photography. So lets jump in!
Shoot in RAW
You will often be told by non-photography people that you should not edit your pictures. They will say things like: “real professionals don’t edit,” “you are not representing the scene in a natural setting” or some other nonsense along these lines.
Although there are many people who believe that most published photographs are unedited, we do not know any professional photographers who do not post-process their pictures. And if they do it, you should too!
To maximize your editing options, you must shoot in RAW. This is the first of our three important photography rules. Why? Because when you shoot in JPEG, your camera does a tremendous amount of compression that severely limits your editing capabilities. When shooting in RAW, that compression does not take place.
When first setting up your camera, you will come across a choice of what format you want your pictures to be taken. A lot of beginners go for large JPEG format. Although this gives you the maximum quality that a JPEG can have, this also puts you within a tight frame of limitations.
However, RAW format captures all of the details in highlights and shadows. It takes in
as many colors as your sensor can handle, and tries to preserve every little bit of information. When you choose to shoot in JPEG, that information gets compressed and eventually deleted. After all, an average size of a JPEG is 5MB while RAW files can often be up to 45MB in size.
To make your editing process easier, and give yourself more options, stick to shooting in RAW. RAW files will always outperform the best quality JPEGs, and the final product will always be of a more professional quality.
Use the Rule of Thirds
You need to start your photo with a good composition. With good composition, you can lead the viewer into the
picture, find new and interesting angles, and emphasize the main part of your photograph. Though it may sound difficult, there is a secret rule to help you get there – the rule of thirds.
The rule of thirds states that you divide the picture into three equal parts vertically and horizontally. This creates a grid with nine squares and four intersecting lines. The four places where the lines meet are where your picture’s focal points should be placed. And if you are taking a picture of a landscape, you can use the horizontal lines of the grid to create a perfect balance between your horizon and the sky – a pretty nifty trick, eh?
Of course, there are more techniques for a good composition that professional photographers use. But for someone who is just starting out, with not much knowledge or experience in photography, the rule of thirds is a great place to start. It is a simple, elegant, and very natural way to compose your pictures.
(For more on the Rule of Thirds, go get my free eBook: A QuickStart Guide to Digital Photography – for Beginners.)
Shoot During Golden Hour
The final of our three important photography rules is regarding the Golden Hour.
Golden hour is a magical time, one hour after sunrise, and one hour before sunset. It's when the sun is low on the horizon and it gives the most amazing warm light. Shadows are dramatically increased and the colors of nature really “pop”. This is the time that all of the pros aim for when photographing clients, landscapes, etc.
Having the sun high in the sky makes everything flat and overlit. There are no shadows, and the color of light is pretty dull. Generally, this results in pictures that are boring and lack any character. The only exception to this is when the sky is cloudy. Then the clouds act as diffusers, softening the light and helping you light your portraits.
But your real aim in timing for your photos should be in that magical period we call Golden Hour.
I hope you take these three rules and apply them! To learn more, check out Evan Sharboneau's Photography Masterclass course. I took this course and it helped me tremendously!