To take a good photo, you don’t need life hacks; you just need to use old school photography techniques. In 2020, the average person is not carrying around Nikon cameras and focusing on getting the perfect shot. There is no waiting time after snapping a few photos to develop film strips in a dark room.
Instead, in today’s technological age, people can whip out their phones, take a photo and see the results instantly.
They don’t have to worry about spending money on buying film, with dozens of photos of the same pose or scenery.
Though polaroids are making a resurgence for their aesthetic appeal, cameras are now vastly underused. In a sense, the art of photography is no longer in focus.
One recommendation to fixing this is to slow down. Instead of immediately snapping, hone in on taking one solid photo.
The point of photography is preservation, to cherish a memory forever, not just to post it on Instagram with song lyrics from a band you don’t even listen to. Instead of rushing, take a minute to take in the scenery as a whole and try to capture that moment and that feeling.
Next, try to imagine the photo you want to take before you press a button. J.K. Rowling has said that it took her six years to write Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Though you shouldn’t take the same amount of time to take a photo, you have to think about the story you want to tell when taking the shot.
Once you’ve taken a minute to pause, check to see what will end up in the photo. Make sure you aren’t cropping out anything you want to keep in or that you aren’t using a weird angle. Essentially, take a moment to frame your photo properly.
Additionally, some people tend to carry the mindset that by taking loads of photographs at once, at least one will come out looking good.
Though statistically reasonable, it is just going to be a waste of storage. Instead, take a few photos, the recommended number being about five to ten photos during a session.
If you happen to be using an actual camera, try shooting in manual mode. Instead of the camera automatically adjusting for perfect exposure or focusing, try doing it yourself.
In doing so, you are in control of the photo instead of the other way around. For phones, try not to be so reliant on filters, but rather strive to control the photo yourself and adjust the camera to get the shot you want.
This is the same concept as in Hamilton when James Madison says “put a pencil to his temple and connected it to his brain…and he wrote his first refrain.” The camera isn’t just a tool, but an extension of yourself. It is in your hands to capture what you see as worthy to be remembered, so rely on your own manual control.
Another tactic to be more mindful while taking photos is to turn off the Liquid Crystal Display screen.
The liquid crystals use a reflector instead of emitting light, which allows photos to immediately appear in black and white or color on your camera.
By turning this off, you will not be able to instantly see how your photos turn out.
Though this may seem detrimental, it will force you to focus on taking one good photo, not squander your time taking a bunch of mediocre ones.
Just as with any trade, the best photographers are those who have a passion for it, so choose to take the photos you want, not the ones to appease society.
Cameras have come a long way since Louis Daguerre invented them in 1836. Originally “they were copper plate with silver and exposed it to iodine vapor to make it light-sensitive…the plate was ‘developed’ by exposure to mercury vapor,” according to Business Insider. As time went on, cameras grew increasingly smaller with shorter exposure times, making it possible to take candid photos. By 2000, Japan invented the J-phone, which became the first phone capable of taking photos.
By 2010, phones with cameras became a staple in society, with people easily snapping photos. Even more recently, Apple released the iPhone 11 which has three cameras, meant to make photos appear like they are actual stolen stills from life.
Regardless of how far photography technology has progressed, it is still beneficial to go to the root of it and learn basic techniques.
While seeing a sunset or hanging out with friends, you can choose to use whatever tools your phone has including the LCD screen, burst or filters. Just remember to slow down and enjoy the moment before you capture it.