Beginner’s guide to photography

Published On: May 3, 2019 09:04 AM NPT By: The Week Bureau

All of us take pictures but not many of us take good pictures. We are guilty of randomly clicking away and then choosing the “best” among the lot to post online. But taking good pictures is an art, one that can be mastered if you know what to do. Here, Bijaybar Pradhan (@bijaybar) who has taken his interest in photography to a whole another level to capture moments up in places like Manang, Mustang, and Langtang and Smarika Phuyal (@phusma) who likes to capture every slice of life that she sees around Kathmandu share a few tips and tricks on how to take a good picture.

Tell a story
Your photos mean nothing if they are not telling a story. Whether it’s a simple landscape or a market place picture, find a story worth telling. Capture a flock of birds flying somewhere with a beautiful backdrop, look for a child holding onto his/her mother’s hand in the market. This adds meaning to your picture, making it worth pausing and looking at. Most photos that have won prizes or have been recognized worldwide have always told a story – be it of festivity, people, or war. “This is why it’s important to find a subject for your photos. If there is a landscape, I always find some form of life (people, animals) and frame the landscape around it,” says Pradhan adding that whenever one takes a photo one should do it to convey something and stir an emotion rather than doing it for likes or appreciation of your craft. 

Find the angle
Angles can really make or break a photograph. Pradhan gives the example of fighters and boxers, how their photos are always taken from a lower angle in order to emphasize their power and strength. Similarly, images, where people are asking for food or money, are taken from an upper angle that further makes the image even more heartbreaking. “This is how photographs transfer emotions via something that is still,” says Pradhan. One can use angles to give different perspectives to a photo. For instance, the same image can hint towards two opposite meanings, all thanks to the angles. If the purpose of your photograph is to capture a subject, say, a person, then going up close so that you can see their freckles, moles or smile will work well. If you want to capture the movement of things, it’s better to widen your angle and find asymmetry. “Personally, I always use grid lines. They work as a reference in order to give your image an evenness of sorts,” explains Phuyal.  

Practice, practice, and practice
Rome, sadly, wasn’t built in a day and, so, to get really get good at taking pictures is also not possible in a day or two. Like most skills, it’s all about practice. The more you take picture being aware about everything that makes a good shot, the better you will get at it. And eventually, you will come at a point when you will start seeing symmetry and frames even though you don’t have a camera with you. The best thing about photography is that you get to play around with it. So, see what others are doing and find out what you like and stick to it. “Read a little about photography and do some research. It’s the easiest way to learn,” concludes Pradhan.

Layer your photos
Layering is most useful when shooting a wide range shot or a landscape. However, its glory can also be made use of in any photo. You can layer in shadows, patterns, and silhouette, to name a few. All of this adds a dash of sophistication to your pictures. “For example, in a landscape, I take a shot with one-third sky, one-third hills, and one-third water, this gives it a nice range of colors,” explains Phuyal. One great way to add layers to your photos is to use leading lines. Roads, paths, railway tracks, rivers and fences make excellent leading lines. At the river or the beach, use the water’s edge or ripples in the sand. Patterns are also an excellent way to layer photographs, so go up close and capture every detail possible. Flowers, leaves, water droplets and other textured subjects look more exciting up close and so do people and pets.

Find a fresh perspective
One important thing to know while taking photos is to find your own stand. Nepali photographers generally love taking close ups of old men/women sitting and smoking as well as the alleyways of Kathmandu but according to Pradhan there is so much more to Nepal than just Kathmandu. “As photographers, one shouldn’t just stick to Kathmandu as things are prettier and better elsewhere in Nepal,” he says. Phuyal also recommends following a particular theme and taking many photos surrounding it like she does with the windows of houses of all the places she visits. “This gives you something to look forward to and you will be more aware of your surroundings,” she says. So, it’s always important to get a little creative while snapping pictures.

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