How to Look for a Subject Matter


When it comes to any piece of art, your subject matter will always be difficult to find. The one thing you need to comprehend before taking your camera out for a spin is that you do not need to take an expensive or an exotic trip to create attractive images. For many people, especially novices, they feel compelled to follow a specific style or popular method that they see online or on in various galleries. While it is important to educate yourself on the new modern day styles of photography, you have to remember that when it comes to a subject, it is not about the piece itself. Instead, it is about the creativity and manipulation that your imagination and photographic skills can push you to when becoming a stronger photographer.

As a photographer with over twenty years of experience, I have used my surroundings and emotions to help identify my subjects within my art. This of course did not come about naturally. Instead, it was developed immediately by my interest within photography. When starting off, you need to get a feel for your camera. The ability to understand every motion, every setting, and every change that can shape and manipulate a photo into its own story is the best thing you can do for yourself as a novice photographer. Once you are able to understand the fundamentals, then you will be able to find your perfect subject. When I first started taking pictures, I was in the United States and used the cities site seeing monuments as a representative of my art. While they were not the best photos, they allowed me to grow as a photographer. Eventually, I was able to hone my subjects in a more story-like portrait.

While you begin to test your camera out, try and use your environment around you as your subject for your photographs. Below, I have provided various subjects that can help you hone your skills as a photographer. For some people, their subjects will come to them immediately. For others, their subjects will take time. Whatever is the case, try and use these subjects to test the boundaries of your camera. Use it as a way to enhance both your skills and your interest. This will eventually lead you to the path of your perfect subject and theme for your photographs.


Be Close to Home

For many people, we do not have the luxury of walking down the populated streets of Madrid or looking from a bird’s eye view of the Eiffel Tower. While these photographs may be astonishing, they are not the end-all be-all definer for a great photograph. Instead, leverage your surroundings and pick a subject close to you. This can be a patch of grass or a simple street sign. As long as you can interpret the subject in a particular way through its shape and pattern, you will have a strong photograph.

Mimic your Idols

Like any hobby, many people look to well known works to aid with their interest. Mimicking other photographs is never a bad way to get started. Like any great skill, you need to start from somewhere and starting from something you are passionate about is always a great way to grow as a photographer. Once you have done that, try and go beyond the actual copy. Switch up the color, the lighting, or the aperture to enhance or blur out your subject. These new tricks will allow you to go out of your comfort zone and become the photographer you are meant to be.

Photo Trips

Very often, many people practice their photography skills through trips and vacations. This can be a short photo trip such as a one-day session in the city to an entire month excursion in the Amazon. Whatever the situation, utilize your trips and the unknown territory as the subject for your photos. Focus on specific objects, trees, monuments, or animals for the focal point of your photographs. You can even go beyond that and utilize people for portraits.

Landscape Shots

As a photographer, some photos can be born from the simplicity of Mother Nature. That being said, try and consider taking various landscape photographs. With these shots, make sure to maximize your depth of field. To do this, know your rule of thirds as well as your overall focal point for your photograph. This will allow you to set up the perfect shot without leaving anything out in the foreground. Also, take into consideration using a tripod. This will give you total control to focus on the shutter speed and aperture setting for your pieces.


Portrait Shots

After years of taking various photographs, my favorite shots to capture are portrait shots! For me, I believe that portrait photographs provides our viewers with a ‘more than meets the eye’ type of story. While much of this attributes to the subject itself, you as a photographer have total control in manipulating your portraits by utilizing helpful portrait tactics. To do this, try altering the perspective of your shots; instead of taking a full frontal view, switch to a bird’s eye view. In addition, try and break the rules of composition such as the rule of thirds. Give your subject life by creating powerful and intense situations. But most importantly, move your subject around and out of their comfort zone. This type of manipulation will give you more free reigns of multiple shots and different perspectives for your subject.

Create your own Subject

While we can always capture memories with our photos, you can also create your own subject. For many out of the box photographers, they like to create their work of art before capturing it with their cameras. This can be something simple like stacking books together to something more complex like wielding a metal sculpture to your command. Whatever is the case, you are in control of your subject. How you want it to look, what you want it to represent will be the true definer of your art.

Go into the Unknown

For many photographers, the true fun is in the hunt of their subjects. While this does not take an extravagant amount of effort, it does entail some energy to seek and find rare and obscure subjects such as a football tackle or a rainbow. For these subjects, it is all about patience. Yes, this can be tedious, but when you capture that perfect movement, it makes all of that time worth it.

Three Lighting Facts That Can Help Improve Your Photography


There are many aspects that go into creating the perfect photograph. But, as I mentioned in my last post, the two most important aspects of a photograph are lighting and composition. Lighting is a very complex aspect of photography, and photographers work hard to figure out what lighting will create the effect they want. These facts about lighting play an enormous role in helping photographers to create the effect that they want to achieve.

1. Bouncing light acts as another form of diffusion

If a narrow light source is aimed at a broad, matte surface like a wall, the surface will not only reflect the light. The matte surface, which could also be a ceiling or a matte reflector, diffuses the light in addition to reflecting it. It diffuses the light by scattering it over a wider area.

If a shiny reflector is used instead of a matte reflector, the light will remain fairly narrow after it bounces off of the surface. This can be seen in pictures of jewelry with stones that have flat surfaces due to the cut of the jewelry. The most extreme case of this phenomenon, however, can be seen with a mirror. When the reflector is a mirror, the light with remain focused about as narrowly in the reflection as it was originally.

2. The closer the light source, the softer the light (and vice versa)

It is helpful for a photographer to know that the distance between a light source and the subject of the photograph plays a role in the light. The farther the light source, the harder the light will appear. It makes sense when you think about it. When a light is moved closer, it becomes bigger and broader in relation to the photograph’s subject. When the light is moved farther, it is getting smaller and more narrow.

We can better understand this concept if we picture the sun, which is extremely broad, having a diameter around 109 times the diameter of earth. However, the sun is far away, thus taking up a small portion of the sky and casting a very hard light when the light falls directly on us. This tip is helpful for when photographing people indoors and trying to adjust the lighting to flatter the people. Instead of just changing the angle at which the light is hitting the subject, adjust how close or far a light is from a subject.

3. Shadows create volume

Shadows are the reason that we can see three-dimensionality. If it weren’t for shadows, we would not be able to see images as objects in space, but instead as objects projected onto flat surfaces.The sense of volume is created by lighting that either comes from the side, above, or below. This effect is created because lighting that comes from these directions casts deeper and longer shadows. For this reason, product, still-life, and landscape photographers usually use angular lighting.

This fact is helpful when creating dramatic portraits. For best results, place the light high above and slightly to the side of the subject, while also angling the light down. Make sure that the light is not angled so far down that the shadow of the nose falls any more than halfway down the upper lip.

Overall, photography is an artform that relies heavily on lighting. The lighting of a photograph can completely change the effect, whether the intent is to flatter the subject, to make an aesthetically pleasing photograph, or to create something that catches a person’s eye. When we reflect (see what I did there?) on all of the ways that light affects a photograph, it is no wonder that photographers put so much emphasis on the lighting in their work.

Four Tips That Photographers Wish They’d Known Sooner


We all know the experience of wishing we’d known something sooner. Even experts in various areas feel that way about their crafts. Don’t believe me? Improve Photography asked on their Facebook Page what photography tips members of their community wish they’d known sooner. They got an astounding amount of results. There seemed to be some level of resounding consensus on what were the most important lessons from photography. And when an expert gives you advice, it can’t hurt to take it into consideration. Here’s what these photographers said they wished they’d known sooner.

1) Photography is Fundamentally About Two Things: Light and Composition

Too many photographers get bogged down in tiny little details. In reality, this will not help a photographer improve nearly as much as focusing on the greater picture. Put a good deal of effort into composing your photo and make sure to play around with the light and you’re likely to come up with a much better body of work than if you worry about small nuances in your photograph. Once you figure out the composition and the light, other aspects are bound to just fall into place.

2) Using Photoshop Isn’t “Cheating”

While some photographers may feel differently, many of the photographers at Improve Photography believe that digital image editing is an extremely important part of photography. After all, photography is art. Just as painters can put whatever they want into their work, photographers should have the freedom to do the same. There is no rulebook that states that photographers need to leave their photos unedited. As long as the photographer does not lie and say that the photo is a true rendering of the actual scene, there is nothing wrong with incorporating photoshop.

3) Learn to Change the Active Focus Point

Many photographers learn to use one focus point but using solely the center focus point. This involves focusing on the correct place for a landscape or on the eye of the subject. Then, the photographer typically recomposes the picture while holding the shutter button halfway down and then presses the shutter button after composing the photo. While this method works, it is much more beneficial to read your camera’s manual and figure out how to change the focus point. This results in a much higher percentage of the shots being in focus.

4) Don’t Buy More Gear Until You’ve Hit a Wall With the Gear You Have

When you’re a new photographer, you can often feel eager to get more than just your 18-55 kit lens, which may seem not to be sharp enough. The truth is, the best way to succeed is to stick with the 18-55 kit lens for a while. There are many more aspects of photography to work on before you worry about your pictures not being sharp enough due to the lens. The vast majority of issues with sharpness are caused by the photographer’s shooting technique rather than the lens. After a photographer learns the fundamental aspects of photography, then he or she can  switch not a new lens. This ideology should be used when purchasing photography gear in general. In terms of lighting set ups, make sure you use the bare bones lighting set up before moving onto an expensive set of studio equipment. In essence, gaining experience is more important than buying gear, so don’t buy expensive gear until you’ve learned the basics with your beginner’s gear.

As photographers, we each have our own individual journeys of growth and mastery. But one thing’s for sure, we will all have challenges. Some of these challenges can be avoided if we take advice from other photographers. Whether we’re talking about photography or any other skill, the advice of others–especially those more experienced–can be exponentially helpful in learning to hone your craft!

The Five Takeaways from Photography



Whenever I gaze upon a strong photograph, I cannot help but feel a sense of connection to the beliefs, passion, and goals that that an artist had for his or her own work. Their work, while simple in its time, becomes a universal language understood by all who gaze upon it. Since I started photography, I have become completely infatuated by the overall presence that a camera and a photograph can have on a group of people. While as much as I can focus on the photo itself, photography encompasses an entire community that connect, teaches, and learns after every click.

Below, I have highlighted five of the big takeaways from my experience as an amateur photographer. One thing you need to keep in mind is that we are a community. We look to engage others not just by the story of our work, but also by the process of capturing our art.


1. Networking with Everyone

When it comes to photography, you are constantly networking each and every day. Beyond your overall travels, you will come across a variety of people. Be it photographers, mentors, models, subjects, art directors, or stylist, the possibility of connections are endless. While there are some of those who you will never see or speak to again, you never know when that right connection will be made. It may be a mentor that can help develop your skills as a photographer or a subject that can become a lifelong friend and partner for your work in the future. Regardless of the reason, take advantage of your connection and continue to build upon it.

2. Talk to an Expert

Similar to that above, photography can oftentimes be a frightening hobby to undertake, especially if you are new to the scene.  As you are networking, make sure you answer a variety of questions. This can be either in person with a professional or on an online format. Regardless of whom you are speaking with, try and pull as much information as possible, especially from the veteran photographers. Those ten minutes of conversation can be more valuable to your growth and development as a photographer than any book or video tutorial.

3. Out in the Open

The best part of photography is that anything can be your subject. This is your chance to experiment with different topics and scenes. Go beyond your comfort zone and test out a variety of photos. The only way you can grown and improve as a photographer is by practicing your technique each and every day. In addition, by going out, you will be able to develop your own style and technique for your own personal photos.

4. Inspiration

No matter who you are, there will always be an underlying motivation of why we decided to pick up our cameras. Many people do it for the love of the job. Others do it for the love of the subject. Whatever your reason is, make sure you continue to push that fire and passion each and every shot. A good solid way to do this is to pre-plan a theme or concept you want to capture. Start off by thinking of emotions. Are you looking to express anger or happiness in your piece? If you have an answer, why do you want to express that? By answering these questions, you will be able to decide on which subject you want to capture for that day.

5. State of Learning

Even with years of experience, I still find myself learning new trick, approaches, and techniques to further enhance my style. With photography, the hobby continues to evolve with the advancement of technology. Because of this, there is always something new to learn to better improve your shots each and every day. These type of moments are those that force photographers out of their comfort zone and inspire and motivate them to shoot each and every day.

Smartphone Photo Editing Apps: Chapter 1


In the modern age of technology, the use of high-powered DSLR cameras is no longer the only devices that can archive scenic and motivational HD photos. Today, the new generation of smartphones has changed the notion of traditional photography with their instantaneous and immediate posting and on-the-spot editing techniques. One of the biggest changes that have constantly grown over the past five years has been the editing options and applications for your photos. With these options, a person is able to change bland and dry photos to dramatic visually impactful subjects.

Below, you will discover three of the photographer recommended photo-editing apps that you can use to alter your photos in the best possible way. While it can be difficult starting off, try and gain a sense of what these options can do for you.



Snapseed is a photo-editing application produced by Ni Software that enables users to enhance photos and apply digital filters. Snapseed users can edit pictures and photographs by using the swiping gesture to select different effects and enhancements. Alternatively, users can opt for an automatic adjustment of color and contrast. But for those who want to go above and beyond, try playing with the various special effects that this application offers. These include Drama, Grunge, Vintage, Center-focus, Frames, and Tilt-shift. Because of its user friendly interface, clean and sleek mobile look, and last but not least, basic photo processing techniques, Snapseed has become one of the most popular rated apps within the Top 100 Best Android App of 2015 PC Magazine.


Another very popular mobile editing application is the VSCO Cam. In addition to rich photo-editing techniques, the VSCO Cam also functions as a camera app. But to go beyond the obvious, VSCO Cam have built their reputation in the photo world by creating unique film emulation presets that can be used with the desktop software Adobe Lightroom. In addition, many of the filters feature soft and faded looks that have quickly become very popular amongst mobile photographers. While still comparative to its rival, Instagram, VSCO Cam provides its users with the gold standard for both photo and film emulation.

Filterstorm Neue

Filterstorm Neue offers many of the features and editing control of the more powerful desktop applications like Lightroom and Photoshop. The only difference is that it comes in a mobile-friendly format! For those eager photography enthusiasts, this is the perfect app for you. Filtersrom Neue provides you with more advanced editing techniques to help take your photographs to another level. It will require you to invest some time in learning how to use this app. Much of this app requires you to have an understanding of brightness, contrast, Hume, luminosity, and curves. One additional feature that really sets Filterstorm Neue apart from the rest is that you can selectively apply adjustments through a number of tools, including a powerful masking brush as well as radial and linear gradient filters. Currently this is on sale for $3.99 at the Apple store for your iPhone or iPad.


Jack Halfon Faces and Places (16)Is everything worth it if you can’t even smile?



Jack Halfon Faces and Places (26)At the end of the day, sometimes faith is all we need.



Jack Halfon Faces and Places (47)

When the world embodies the fear, love, hate, and happiness all in one photo.