By Rena Justine:
It's easy to think of iconic photos as something otherworldly, but they're actually the result of good-old talent and hard work. Take, for example, the work of English model Pattie Boyd. As the photographer behind iconic headshots of Paul McCartney and George Harrison, she's credited with some of the most effortlessly impactful portraits of all time. To achieve these high standards, Boyd used natural light whenever possible to create images with a soft yet vibrant feel. This practice makes all her prints high quality—a characteristic that all aspiring photographers must aim for in their own photos. Following Boyd's example, the key to developing your own style as a photographer is to master basics that can drastically improve the quality and tone of your work. From lighting to composition, here are four tips to improve the quality of your photos and make each image your own.
1. Shoot in RAW format
If you want to improve the quality of your photos, you need to start with an essential step: shooting in RAW format. RAW files contain more information than JPEGs so that you can edit them more effectively. This will ensure that your camera captures all the information it can, from exposure to color. Doing so will help you do more with your images later on. While this might seem daunting, photo editing software such as Adobe Lightroom, VSCO, and Snapseed can help you make the most out of your photos. These applications are available both on desktop and mobile and can be easily integrated into your photography workflow.
2. Use a high-quality camera
The quality of your photos is directly related to the quality of your camera, so make sure you're using a model that can produce high-resolution images. Medium-format cameras are excellent for commercial photography because of their large sensors and ability to capture more light. Some of the most popular models include Fujifilm GFX 100S, Leica S3, and Pentax 645Z—three of the best medium-format cameras on the market today. These cameras allow you to create images with incredible detail, even when you're using a large aperture setting or shooting at a long distance from your subject. They also offer better low-light performance than full-frame DSLRs, which is important when shooting in dimly lit spaces.
3. Maximize camera accessories
A great way to improve the quality of your images is by using peripheral accessories designed specifically for your camera. The most common examples of these are tripods and filters. Filters help minimize glare from bright lights or reflections on glass surfaces so that they don't appear in your image. Some of the best filter brands on the market include Hoya and B+W.
On the other hand, tripods are great for keeping your camera steady, especially when shooting in low-light situations. Expert nature photographer Melissa Findley recommends that beginner photographers carry a lightweight carbon fiber tripod along with their camera and lens of choice. Following her tip, you should be able to capture crisp images from various stable angles that add dimension to your picture.
4. Lower your ISO
If you want your photos to come out looking crisp, make sure you don't set your ISO too high. ISO is a setting on your camera that controls how sensitive your sensor is to light. The lower the ISO, the less sensitive it is and the clearer your photos will be. A high ISO setting puts more demand on your camera's sensor, which will produce more noise. Noise looks like little dots in your photos and can make them grainy. If you're taking pictures in low light, try lowering your ISO to avoid noise. You'll be able to get a much cleaner shot this way. Whether you're taking photos as a full-time job or as a side gig, you know that the quality of your images can make or break your shot. With the right equipment and technique, you can capture memories that can stand the test of time. Who knows? In time, your high-quality work may even be considered among the greats.
Rena Justine is a teaching consultant who provides guidance to schools across the country. Through her online articles, she hopes to impart her ten years of experience to help others. She spends most of her free time in the park with her husband and three children.