Why I’ll Never Be a Great Photographer [for now] + Tips

I get photo envy a lot.

Each time it strikes I make a promise to do whatever it takes to improve my photography.

I am taking little steps and it seems to be improving in many ways.

I  understand composition, but struggle with capturing the light. (At times I think there is just something wrong with my camera).

None of this matters anyway.

Tips for taking quick photos
The ever present assistant

I’ll never be a great photographer [for now] because I am always snapping on the fly.

I have two children.

I rarely have time to eat a banana, let alone set up the scene for the perfect shot.

In fact, many times I am taking photos one-handed while carrying Savannah and trying to stop her from pressing the buttons.

I usually have a couple of seconds to fire off a shot.

Trying to photograph my girls is even worse. They don’t sit still and if I have quickly set up a semi-automatic shot for the light, they move into the shade quicker than a jack rabbit. Moment gone.

I’d long to have minutes, if not hours, to frame up a shot, monitor the light, adapt to it, and re-shoot until perfection is created.

Whatever! Not in this family travel blogging lifetime.

For now, I’ll just do the best I can and try to be pleased with the snapping on the fly efforts.

tips for taking quick photos
A one handed shot as I held a wriggling Savannah back from jumping in with the pelicans

If you are a fly snapper too, here’s a few tips to help capture the photo as best as you can

1. Understand composition

Know how lines work and what makes effective composition. As soon as you arrive at a new place, frame it up in your mind and then snap.

2. Use the semi-automatic controls

So either Aperture or Shutter speed. This way it is half done for you and you don’t need to think as much if you were shooting in manual mode.

3. Practice

Taking one handed photos while using the other to hold or feed children.

It’s amazing what you are capable of doing. I can even tap focus and shoot one-handed on the phone now. (These Android phone apps help make photography easier).

4. Try to get up early

Ha! What do you mean try, the kids are jumping on you at 6am and you’ve missed your opportunity for alone time. If you are lucky enough to have the kids sleep in get out and shoot!

5. Edit.

Bah, like you have time for that! But at least do the basics, just press the auto-correct button.

Do you snap photos on the fly too?

What are some of your tips?

Check out our other Photography articles:

We also recommend Bethany Salvon’sGetting Out of Auto” photography ebook to those looking to improve their photography and understand how to take advantage of their camera. You can read our review here

Caz
Caz Makepeace is the co-founder of y Travel Blog and has been traveling the world since 1997, first solo, then with her husband, and now with her two daughters. Get her free email series on the 4 best ways to reduce travel costs. Follow her on Google+

18 Comments on “Why I’ll Never Be a Great Photographer [for now] + Tips”

  1. Great tips. I strive for awesome photos. It really takes time, to learn, practise and edit. I have noticed a massive improvement over the last 12 months, so it all seems worthwhile to persist.

    I recently learnt prime lenses (the ones you can’t zoom in and out with) have quicker shutter speeds than zoom lenses. Making them ideal for shoting kids who tend to move quickly. I really like my 50mm 1.4 lens! I also got an 85mm 1.8 which is fantastic for outdoor shots.

    My quick edit tip is to try actions on photoshop. I learnt how edit the long way and recently (last week) started using actions. Oh my gosh, they make the colours vibrant & pop. Awesome! I recommend Everyday Elements and Paint the Moon. They’re both awesome.

    I think you do an awesome job with photos, especially since you’re also jugging children at the same time.
    Jeanie recently posted..Camera in Hand – Barwon River Walk
    Jeanie recently posted..Camera in Hand – Barwon River Walk

    Reply
    • We have a 50mm lens which I love. The photos are better quality. The only thing I don’t like about that is having to change the lenses all the time!! LAzy me ;)
      Thank you for the actions tip. I’m going to have to research what that is all about.

      Reply
  2. Take lots of photos of the same thing. A better camera really helps. However, if you take a lot of shots of the same thing, one may stand out. If you are not a photographer (which I am not) playing around with the settings can help. Trial and error is a good thing so test out your skills and camera at home. You will learn how your camera works in different lights and what setting you should use.

    For me, I’ve done a lot of sports photography and have learned which settings work better than others. A few of my shots (not all) are award winning sports photography shots (if you ask me – check out the football photos I took at Ohio State, esp the one with Braxton Miller) so just practice.

    Also, don’t underestimate photo editing software. They can improve your photos tremendously. It takes time to edit but the colors, light, and contrast can be greatly improved.

    I will never be a great photographer but over time, I hope to get better. I will probably always envy the great photographers though.
    Jeremy Branham recently posted..A Columbus travel guide for budget travelers
    Jeremy Branham recently posted..A Columbus travel guide for budget travelers

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  3. I have to say i disagree with Jeremy – a better camera wont help at all – there is nothing wrong with shooting on the fly – I do a lot of street photography so you have to act quick as you only have seconds (if you are lucky) to get that shot. with regards to editing – my rule of thumb is – if i spend more than 30 secs editing a photo i got it wrong in the first place.

    Tristan
    Wftristan recently posted..Mount Etna offers best-value skiing
    Wftristan recently posted..Mount Etna offers best-value skiing

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    • Great rule of thumb. I think all these comments are making me more determined and happy to ditch the editing. Even though I don’t really do much of it anyway. I’d rather get it right from the beginning and save time

      Reply
    • I spent years using a point and shoot. I upgraded to a 4/3 camera and I promise you I get much better shots. Yes, a lot can be done in editing. However, focus, clearer images, and better colors may be the best part of a nice camera (especially if you are trying to shoot sports scenes or fast moving action)
      Jeremy Branham recently posted..A walk in the rain through Dublin Castle
      Jeremy Branham recently posted..A walk in the rain through Dublin Castle

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  4. I spent a lot of time shooting the same thing from several angles and then pull out the best one later n the editing process. Doing so lets us keep moving and helps with making sure the lighting is solid in at least one of the shots.
    Kenin – The Constant Rambler recently posted..Road Trip Update Rambling and Gambling – Redding to Reno to Las Vegas Baby!
    Kenin – The Constant Rambler recently posted..Road Trip Update Rambling and Gambling – Redding to Reno to Las Vegas Baby!

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    • Great tip Kenin! Thanks for sharing. Will be snapping from different angles now, at least kids are always forcing you into new angles!!

      Reply
  5. I don’t know what you are talking about…your photos are always clear and you manage to capture such amazing places on your travels! They still inspire!
    Great tips. I agree with the semi-automatic modes – my camera is nearly always set to aperture priority. Gives me the creative control to create the effect I am after, and the camera does the rest of the work. Personally, I found it easier with the film SLRs-they seemed more user friendly for full manual, but really, unless I am using a tripod and slow shutter speed…Aperture priority is the way I go!
    I have to agree with Jeanie about the prime lenses! Only started to use them last year and love to use them. I have the classic 50 mm and a 100 mm macro. They do amazing things with my photos!
    As for editing – I have been working diligently to get it right from when I take the shot. Just my photo philosophy, but if I have to do a lot of post editing, it is something I need to work on. I try to limit my edits to cropping and the occasional enhance!
    Anita Mac recently posted..Monday Morning Series: Barbados Sunset
    Anita Mac recently posted..Monday Morning Series: Barbados Sunset

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    • Thank you Anita! WE have a 50mm lens and the photos it produces are soooo much better. I don’t like my standard lens at all. I agree with the editing of the photos. I usually just make very simple corrections as its all I know how to do, but I much prefer photos to look very similar to reality. The heavy HDR photos tend to annoy me a bit as I know they’ve been so faked. Some are really striking though.

      Reply
  6. In all honesty, I don’t think you need a lot of equipment or time to take a great shot! I think it’s all about editing with your eye first. Anyway, 2 beautiful children are much more important than photos!!!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..A Photographic Look At My Adventures In 2012 + Giveaway
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..A Photographic Look At My Adventures In 2012 + Giveaway

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    • Agree!! I like that editing with your eye. I really try to do that now. I have to really as I don’t know much about editing photos and I’ve no time to learn. :) Your photos are always so beautiful Andi

      Reply
  7. Great post!
    Few people admit to photo envy (It’s eating me more often than not) and even fewer admit to the fact that, yes – technically you should take 2 hours per shot if you’re a serious photographer but hey – only those guys who write the photo books actually have the time they claim you need to invest into each and every single picture.

    I’m all with you on the rushing photography. For you, it’s constantly trying to keep the kids from huging pelicans. For me it’s a wife who – understandably – has limited tolerance for turning a 45 minute hike into a 4 hour canon DSLR speed dial listening meditation.

    But where I disagree is: What makes a great photographer? Just because an author claims that you can only take a *great* landscape shot on $4000 worth of equipment on a day when you got up 2 hours before sunrise and took 45 minutes to compose your shot, burning 1250 calories in the process ?
    Maybe you’re more likely to get a great shot this way – but it’s not the only way.
    Holger recently posted..Not post-processing your photo is lying.
    Holger recently posted..Not post-processing your photo is lying.

    Reply
    • Great comment Holger! Thank you for sharing. I can understand why your wife has limited tolerance for taking photos. It can be such a slow art form. ACtually without the kids, I probably wouldn’t have much patience for it myself.
      As always I think it’s a matter of just do the best with what you have from where you are!

      Reply
  8. I am sure you’ll get better, my favourite tip is to always shoot in RAW and then play around with the file in photoshop, it can change an average photo into something amazing

    Reply
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