Five Secrets to Instantly Improve Your Photography
Learn Lauren Bath’s Top 5 tips to beautify your grid and grow your social media following.
Learn Lauren Bath’s Top 5 tips to beautify your grid and grow your social media following.
Wondering how to capture photographs on your adventures that have your family, friends and followers “oohhhing” and “aaahhing”? We were too! So, we begged our co-founder, and social media influencer, Lauren Bath to reveal her secrets.
It wasn’t an easy task, she knows A LOT of stuff about travel photography (with an instagram following of over 400K, we would call her a bit of an expert), but she has synthesised her expertise to bring you the TOP FIVE secrets to instantly improving your travel photography (and in turn, grow your social media following).
All glorious photographs in this post have been captured by the talented Lauren Bath (@laurenepbath).
Some people will have you believe that skilled photography requires years of training, thousands of dollars worth of equipment, the highest end camera and professional training – and whilst these things may help, they are by no means essential.
Working as a travel photographer for almost a decade, our co-founder Lauren has one TOP secret for taking incredible photographs and it doesn’t include any of the above. You will need a camera (a phone camera will suffice!), dedication (you’ll see why in a sec) and… drum-roll-please… a SUNRISE. According to Lauren, sunrise has the potential to make any photography look good – it is, as she says, the Holy Grail of photography.
Lauren stumbled upon this secret for success by accident 8 years ago.
A former chef, Lauren was a passionate photographer but due to her work schedule, she was only able to practise her hobby (very specifically) at sunrise on Wednesdays. She would upload her sunrise images to Instagram and was quickly accumulating followers and seeing tonnes of follower engagement with these posts.
Before the beginning of 2013, Lauren had accumulated 200,000 followers – it was clear people were digging the dawn shots.
If you’re wondering why sunrise is the golden hour for photographers, Lauren puts it down to beautiful light, great coloured skies, long shadows and empty landscapes. It seems people are drawn to the pink, purple and orange hues of a sunrise – and it’s true, these colours can also be captured at dusk, but be prepared for a lot of silhouettes tarnishing your snap. Only at dawn can you capture empty beaches and streets under a painted sky – and this makes for some insane photography.
Any photographer with some experience under their belt will understand the importance of good light for their photographs. Whilst Lauren has outlined that sunrise is ideal, she also has some tips for keen photographers that cannot (or don’t want to) make the golden hour.
Lauren’s next favourite time to capture a shot is at sunset. The colourful skies and warm light make for a great shot.
Lauren says that dusk often offers better skies than dawn – the only setback is navigating busier settings and other photographers attempting to capture the spectacular twilight skies.
After sunrise and sunset comes Magic Hour on Laurens list of good lighting. Magic Hour is defined as the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset, when the sun is quite low on the horizon.
Magic Hour creates the effect of lovely long shadows, warmer light and golden hues.
If this is not an option – you’re not out at sunrise, sunset or an hour either way of each, Lauren has some other tips for good lighting. Unbeknownst to many amateur photographers, overcast lighting is one of the best – it offers an even and soft (albeit a tad boring) light to capture some great images. Overcast lighting is preferable to those sunny days, where the light is so glary and harsh that it takes away from the image. Boring light is better than harsh light.
Lastly, Lauren suggests shooting on those days where there is plenty of cloud cover and a little bit of sunshine. She suggests practicing shooting on these days of mixed lighting to add another dimension and some interest to your photography.
Travel selfies (not regular selfies on the front facing camera, might we clarify) have an immense potential to create personability and interest in your posts. We’re talking professional travel selfies, so ditch the selfie stick and grab yourself a tripod (either for your camera or for your phone). Make sure you practise using the tripod before your trip (so you don’t look like a fumbling fool at a tourist hot-spot). When you are confident in using the gear, the only step left is to plan your shot and pop the camera on a self-timer. Voila!
Lauren suggests only using travel selfies for a specific purpose, whether that be for scale (adding a figure to showcase the size of a place), to add some colour into a landscape or to show a reflection in a crystal clear body of water.
These show intention and purpose when capturing a selfie, and have the potential to add to the landscape.
Travel selfies also have the power to create authenticity and a connection with your audience – it’s nice for your followers to see your face every once in a while, but use these kinds of selfies sparingly. Most of your audience are probably there to see the places you travel to – so make sure the cities, natural wonders and local people are the focal point of your photography.
When travelling to new places, it’s so easy to get lost in the chaos of a landscape – the colours, the people, the attractions – that it becomes SUPER easy to forget to focus on the elements that are important (and we mean focus as both a mindset and a camera term).
Isolation, as a photography term, means to literally isolate singular elements and details in a setting – i.e find the features in a setting that catch your eye (think: colours, shapes and textures) and focus on them with the camera. This technique enables photographers to create clean and simple compositions and, ultimately, improve their travel photography.
For example, Lauren explains that singling out the colours of fruit at a stall in a busy food market makes for a more effective photograph than a wide shot of the whole market.
PRO TIP: Use a shallow depth of field effect (i.e. selecting a small/f number on your camera or portrait mode on your mobile device) to isolate details in a busy setting.
Lauren values this technique for a range of reasons, but says it is a great way to avoid clumsy and cluttered wide shots, enabling, instead, the photographer to capture all the nuanced details of the world.
When it comes to photography, sometimes it is important to look to the top and take some notes from the masters. They have made some EPIC photography rules (and they are rules for a reason).
In this section Lauren shares her favourite go-to classic composition techniques that guarantee fantastic photography.
The rule of thirds
One of the most commonly known rules (even your iphone knows about it), the rule of thirds dictates that all images should be divided by three sections (both horizontally and vertically) and that any points of interest in your composition be placed on one of these ‘third’ lines.
Lauren says that a horizon should not, according to this rule, be placed dead centre and instead should be strategically placed on one of the third lines. This method creates an image that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye – every time.
TIP: Enable the feature on your iphone. Settings > Camera > Enable Grid.
Although this technique seems to contradict the rule of thirds it really has the potential to create an effective shot. Reflections dictate that the horizon line be placed dead centre, so the sky above (and any points of interest e.g. a mountain range) can be directly reflected on the water. This can be achieved pretty easily on a still body of water, like, for example, an alpine lake in Switzerland, and can be flipped (when posted) to create a bit of flair.
Centre Eye Composition
Another tip disobeying the rule of thirds (but, according to Lauren, is super effective) is the use of centre eye composition – which is, essentially, a method used when capturing close-up portraits to place their eye(s) in the centre of the frame (the name really does say it all). This is one of the established rules that guarantees an aesthetically pleasing shot (and that’s what you’re here to learn, right?).
This technique requires the photographer to use the natural lines in a landscape to lead to another point of interest. For example, these train tracks (to the left) lead, as a vector, to the point of interest (some beaut looking elephants). This technique can also be used with, say, a bridge, a trail of footprints or a pedestrian crossing – use your imagination!
These classic compositional techniques are great to try when you are first starting out (and are definitely going to improve your travel photography) but remember – rules are meant to be broken, and sometimes a feeling you get about the composition or focus of an image can far outweigh the rules they are bound by.
If you gather all this intel and implement it into your travel photography repertoire, Lauren ensures that you will INSTANTLY improve your photography and gain a fair few new followers along the way. Let us know how you go!
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