artPho-tog-ra-phynoun: the art, process, or job of taking pictures with a camera.

For a long time I thought I couldn’t do art because I didn’t consider myself artistic. But art plays an important role in our lives. God created us to create; therefore, we need to express ourselves artistically. Not everyone can draw, but everyone CAN do art. Some people find artistic expression in needlepoint or counted cross stitch. Some people take photos.

Not everyone can draw, but everyone CAN do #art. Explore and discover your artistic expression. Click To Tweet

Photography IS Art

You’ll notice that Merriam-Webster’s dictionary uses the word ‘art’ as the first descriptor for photography. That makes me smile. I can’t draw more than stick people, but I CAN do art! In fact, as a recovering caregiver, I credit photography as the art form that helped me get unstuck from my semi-depressed state.

Six years after Pedro received his stem-cell transplant, I attended a summer digital photography class and purchased my first DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) camera. During class, I learned the basics of good photography, as well as the basics of Adobe Photoshop.

In college and during the early years of our marriage, I had an Olympus OM1 camera, and I enjoyed taking photographs of people and places. By the time our kids came along, I took fewer and fewer photos as the price of film and processing went up and our income went down.

I purchased a point and shoot digital camera the year Pedro got sick, but the quality of the photos didn’t impress me. Nevertheless, I would enjoy an occasional walk with my camera to capture close ups of flowers and anything else that looked interesting.

But once I discovered the joys of a Canon DSLR, I knew I had found something incredible. I could take thousands (ok, maybe hundreds of thousands) of photos and I only had to print the really good ones! Facebook provided the perfect place to share my art and get feedback from friends. I could practice my art without spending a lot of money. People even wanted to buy prints of my photos.

I had discovered an artistic outlet that fit my personality and skills.

Ten Quick Tips for Improving Your Photography

With the advent of good cell phone camera, I carry a camera in my pocket at all times. I recently discovered Instagram, and now I have a new outlet for my art (you can find me at https://www.instagram.com/blestbutstrest/). If you’d like to explore your artistic side with photography, these tips should help you get started.

Artistic Tips

1. Point-of-View Rules. Ever wondered why your photos look more like mug shots than those cute photos that everyone else shoots? It has to do with point-of-view. NEVER shoot someone head on (unless you want the mug shot look). Squat down, stand on something, move to the side, anything to change the perspective from a frontal assault to something more flattering.

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2. Eliminate clutter. No, not in your closets, in your pictures! Get closer to the subject to crop out the areas around your subject. Things along the sides and tops of photos often distract from the story you want to tell. If you think a flower looks beautiful, get close enough to fill the frame with it—get close enough to smell its fragrance.art

3. Get dirty! Lay on the ground, hike through the mud, dash out of the house when you see a gorgeous sunset brewing. You’ll create memories as well as beautiful photos. Art is messy, and that’s ok.art

4. Megapixels matter. My first digital camera had a whopping 1.2 MP sensor. You’ll want something that has at least 12 MP on a camera phone, or at least 18 on a point-and-shoot or DSLR. Basically, the more megapixels the bigger you can blow up the photo.

5. Use lines and angles to add interest. Look for natural frames to your photos—trees, irrigation pipes, rock outcroppings, anything that creates visual interest and lines to lead the viewer into the photo. This takes practice. Try lots of angles.

 

6. Have fun! Art should excite you, intrigue you, and make you want to keep coming back for more.

Learn to take your photos from mug shot to 'Great shot!' #photography #art #selfcare Click To Tweet

Technical Tips

7. Shoot once and analyze quickly. I once took 20 photos of a grizzly bear and her two cubs as they moved along a clearing next to the road in Glacier National Park. Not a single photo turned out. I had forgotten that I had changed my camera settings, and didn’t do a quick check after the first photo. By the time I realized my mistake, the bears had entered the woods.

8. Shoot hundreds and analyze at leisure. Take ten, 20, 30, 40 photos of the same thing. Change the settings on your camera. Analyze which photos look better and why. I don’t recommend this with your cell phone camera, though—you might fill your phone’s storage space too quickly! Back in the olden days, photographers wrote down all the pertinent information for each shot they took—time of day, f-stop, camera speed, film details, filters used, and anything else they thought would help them in their analysis. Nowadays, the camera automatically stores all of that information and you can easily access it.

9. Practice patience. It took me two years to figure out how to take exceptional photos of hummingbirds. No, I didn’t stew over the problem that entire time. After all, the hummers only visit in mass numbers for about four weeks total each summer. I think I’ve done a decent job of perfecting my hummingbird ‘studio shots.’

10. Get to know your camera. I don’t specialize in reading directions, but reading directions has helped me figure out how to improve my art. Take time (you can do this at leisure) to learn about all the bells and whistles on your camera (or phone). The manufacturer’s website should have free tutorials. The more you know, the more your confidence will grow.

Nurture Yourself Takeaway #12—Artistic expression is important, so explore ways to express yourself through art.