Take lots of photos. Lots and lots of photos. Make mistakes. Lots of them. The more photos you take and the more mistakes you make, the better the photographer you will become.
I’m not encouraging you to blaze away with your camera like you’ve got a machine gun and are an actor in a B-grade action movie, you won’t improve your photography doing that. You need to carefully consider many aspects of what you are doing and make sure every frame you shoot is different than the previous one.
Increase your odds
Whether you’re photographing your kid’s birthday party, a street protest, graduation portrait or studio product shot for your website, there’s always a multitude of variables. Taking minimal photos is going to reduce your chances of success.
Varying the composition, timing, and exposure for each picture you take will give you more options when you come to edit your photos and choose the best of them.
Vary the composition and move around
Even the slightest changes in composition can produce significantly different photos. So if you only take one or two frames without moving your camera you might be missing the best angle.
Moving your position from side to side and up and down, even just slightly, or adjusting the focal length when you are shooting a static subject will provide you with a series of different images.
Then later, when you’re editing, you will have the benefit of multiple different photos to choose from.
When photographing a moving subject it’s always best to take lots of photos. As the location of your subject changes the dynamic of the photo can be varied in many ways. The relationship of your subject to the background will alter, for better or for worse.
The distance between your subject and your camera may change, possibly resulting in an out of focus photo. When your subject is moving, their position within your frame will be different from moment to moment. So it makes good sense to take a series of images, rather than just one or two.
Timing the moments you choose to make an exposure has a major impact on the outcome of your photo, especially when you have more than one element in your composition that’s moving. If you limit the number of photos you make you will risk the missing the best opportunity.
Continuous shooting mode
In many situations, holding the shutter release button down with your camera set to continuous shooting (burst) mode will not often give you the best results unless you carefully consider your actions.
If you are observant and know your subject, taking time to track the action and choosing the moments you make your exposures will give you better results. Use continuous shooting mode carefully when you need it, otherwise, you will be trying to choose your best photos later from a myriad of exposures with insignificant differences.
Experimenting with different exposure setting is another good way to produce an interesting variety of images of the same subject, especially if the contrast range in your composition is broad.
If you prefer making photos using one of your camera’s auto modes, make a few exposures like that, then switch to Manual mode. Make more photos, adjusting the exposure slightly for each one.
By taking exposure meter readings from different locations with your camera’s spot meter and adjusting your settings accordingly, it can give you a range of more diverse photos than you would have if you only use an automatic exposure mode.
It’s all in the details
Paying attention to detail when you are photographing can make the biggest difference in achieving fabulous photos or just mediocre ones. Taking your time to carefully observe the elements within your frame as you line up your camera to take a photo is essential.
Watch for changes to the light that will affect your exposure. Watch for movement and make deliberate adjustments to your composition. These are all ways that will add depth and an extra dynamic to your photography. However, if you are simply not taking enough photos you are truly limiting your opportunities to be making your best photographs.
Oftentimes the first angle you think of and photograph will not be the best. And, if you only make one or two exposures, you will not get the best photograph. The second composition you choose may be smarter, but all the smart people will do the same. The third step you make with your camera angle, composition, timing, etc., will likely give you a more pleasing, unique result and even lead to more inspired choices for subsequent frames.
Over to you
By taking your time, observing carefully, and considering the various options of how you can set your exposure and frame your subject – it will give you an opportunity to get a diverse range of photos.
Time your exposures so the action is at its peak and your composition works. Then making variations on your choices will return you considerably more options of good photos to choose from. If you just make one or two exposures without making any changes it’s highly possible you will be missing out on making the best photographs possible. So always take lots of photos.