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It can be tough to create eye-catching photos that wow your friends or blow away potential customers. That’s why we put together this helpful guide full of tricks for taking better photos. Thanks to our friends at Dreamstime, here are seven ways to improve your pictures.
1. Put on a green shirt to inspire yourself
Certain colors can make you more creative. No, really — a German study from 2012 found that people who saw a green rectangle before taking a test performed better than their counterparts. This so-called “green effect” is based around the idea that green represents growth.
No, not just plants — green can symbolize psychological growth, too. Or the growth of your photography portfolio when you go out shooting in a lush green forest. If you don’t have the blessing of a forest near your home, you can always throw on a green shirt.
Psychologists have long said that our clothing can impact our mood. If you can’t be in the forest, why not be the forest with some lush, leafy clothing? Hey, it’s worth a try.
If you like your wardrobe just the way it is, try incorporating some green into your life through another avenue. Maybe you can buy some plants (real or fake, both will get your mood up). You could even give your walls a new paint job.
It’s all about infusing some greenery into your environment. According to the science, it can improve your creative workflow.
2. Watch advertising clips
This might sound a bit strange at first. After all, don’t we all just skip commercials or use ads as an excuse to grab a snack while binging a show? Actually, though, you can learn a lot through the visual language of an advertisement.
Think of it this way: The folks who make commercials are working with strict time limits. Unlike movie directors, they don’t have an hour to wow you with captivating cinematography. Instead, they need snappy cues to catch your eyes and draw your attention to the product.
They have to put their best ideas at the forefront. You can learn from this.
For example, watch the angles they use to draw your eye toward the product. Instead of filming establishing shots, commercial filmmakers will often throw you head-first into the action, using leading lines, bright colors and interesting blocking techniques to give you a quick visual feast.
And don’t forget that some of the world’s brightest minds work in the advertising business. It’s an incredibly lucrative field, which means it attracts the best of the best. You can learn a lot from their creative techniques.
Since ads are so short, you can learn pretty quickly!
3. Have your cake and eat it, too
Tons of artists doubt themselves. If an idea pops up in your mind, you might dismiss it. “That’s not a good idea,” you might think. “It’s not creative or unique enough. Someone else has done it before.”
Sure, someone else may have executed the same idea going through your head … but the world hasn’t seen your unique take yet.
Every photographer brings their own flavor to their work, so don’t be so quick to dismiss your instincts. Go easy on yourself and indulge your artistic whims from time to time. They may take you down some fruitful paths.
4. Don’t forget to take time off
It’s easy to lose yourself in your art. If you want to improve your skills, you may spend hours of time at your craft. Many people think a good work ethic is the key to success, which may be why over one-third of employees eat lunch at their desks.
While it’s true that you need to practice your skills, that’s really only part of the equation. Hard work alone won’t encourage creativity. In fact, you need to kick back and give your brain a break every now and then.
Remember: Stress is the No. 1 killer of creativity. So take a break and jazz up your routine every now and then. Try something else for a minute. Go for a walk, make a smoothie, practice yoga poses or play with your dog.
Just make sure you’re clearing your mind. That’s the best way to shake off stagnation and let the creativity flow through you.
HOW TO TAKE A BREAK: This free extension tells you when to step away from the computer
5. Speaking of which, don’t lose sleep over your art!
Fatigue can annihilate your productivity. When your brain isn’t working on its necessary eight hours of sleep, you can’t expect it to pour forth amazing ideas.
This is a huge issue for all kinds of workers — not just creatives. The CDC says that 35% of American adults aren’t getting enough sleep. Since so many employees are exhausted, that costs everyone a ton of money.
If you’ve ever caught yourself making excuses for your own sleepiness, it’s time to switch up your sleep schedule. The easiest way to clear your mind is to turn it off for a few hours. Sure, the amount of sleep you need may vary — some need nine hours, while others need far fewer — but the important part is that you feel recharged the next day.
6. Trouble falling asleep? Read a book
This solution is a double whammy of effectiveness. First off, it helps you unwind your mind after a long day of staring at screens. Sure, it’s tempting to scroll through your feed before hitting the hay — but it can be bad for you.
“The blue light emitted by your cell phone screen restrains the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle (aka circadian rhythm),” SCL Health reports. In other words, looking at your phone before bed makes it harder to fall asleep and wake up.
One great way to slow down is to read a book. By putting down your phone and picking up a paperback, you’re giving your eyes a break from the bright screen that dominates your workday. It can also help you relax by whisking you away to fantastical worlds.
There’s another benefit, though, that helps photographers in particular. It’s like an exercise machine for your imagination. When you’re reading, your brain conjures up imaginative images that encourage your mind to move faster than ever before.
This works best if you pick up a fiction book — preferably fantasy since you’ll have to imagine all kinds of creatures — but any genre should get your brain pumping that metaphorical iron.
7. Challenge yourself to a whole new way of taking photos
If you feel like you’ve hit a plateau, it can be tough to find a way out of your rut. Here’s a fun challenge that should shake up your skillset and inspire some creativity. Put some restrictions on yourself. It may sound strange at first, but problems require inventive solutions.
When you’ve been snapping photos in a particular way, you can quickly fall into a routine. Add some limits to your photoshoots, and you’ll come up with new solutions. You may develop some neat new tricks!
- Go on a photoshoot with just one fixed lens: This is especially useful when you use your least favorite lens.
- Pick a single shot to shoot from: Better yet, pick a boring location. Pick a place you would never before think of. Try to make your pictures as interesting as possible.
- Put a limit on how many frames you shoot of a single subject or place: Normally, you’d probably shoot countless photos in search of the perfect image. Now, you can’t do that. Since you can only take so many pictures, you’ll have to be extra careful and attentive. This is a great way to sharpen your eye.
Looking for more ways to shake up your routine? Try some myth-busting. Tap or click here for seven common photography myths you should stop believing.