So here are 10 ideas, inspirations, tips and thoughts for getting some excellent photographs during the next 12 months. I hope that you find them useful. I am at the moment preparing some free downloadable cheat sheets and other useful guides. If you are interested in being contacted when they are available, and/or hearing about my regular half day Loch Lomond camera skills training courses then please leave your details below.
Tip 1 - Photograph A Sunset or Sunrise
The photograph at the very top of this blog was taken at English Bay in Vancouver. I'd heard that this was the place that everyone went to watch the sunset so I joined them and wasn't disappointed.
There was in fact more people on the beach as the sun went down, than during the hot day that had gone before. Whereas the picture directly above was taken at Balmaha, Loch Lomond which is just down the road from me. I was working in my office and saw that the sky had gone an incredible orange, so jumped in the car with my camera to capture it. The swans in the foreground help to give it some dimension.
Photographers call the first and last hour of daylight The Golden Hour, or Magic Hour. This is when the sun is low in the sky and you often get the most beautiful textures and colours. So make a resolution to capture a sunset, sunrise, or simply benefit from the Golden Hour. You can get apps that will tell you when the sun is scheduled to rise and set wherever you are in the world.
In the summer set your alarm to get up early and photograph sunrise, then if you like head back to bed! In the winter the benefit is that with shorter days the sun goes up and down at more reasonable times.
Tip 2 - Plan A Photography Trip
You don't have to go to see the Northern Lights, or a South American rain forest, look for a manageable and affordable day trip where your reason for going is purely for photography. It could be an event, maybe an airshow, sporting occasion, vintage car rally etc. Or, somewhere where you go with the specific aim of photographing something. In the case above it was a day trip to the Isle of Staffa, to photograph the islands puffin colony. (Staffa trip runs daily from Oban - check for when the Puffins are on the island though).
Tip 3 - Start A Home Project
Here's an easy challenge. Wherever you live, commit to taking regular photographs of the same view from your home. Find a spot and then keep re-visiting it, making use of different light etc. Build a series of photographs through the year all of that same viewpoint.
Tip 4 - Capture The Changing Seasons
An obvious one, but one well worth doing. The changing seasons and the impact that they have on landscapes are amazing. Especially bright days in autumn and winter. So don't use your camera just for the summer holidays! (Above Milarochy Bay, Loch Lomond, Scotland).
Tip 5 - Go To The Streets
Wherever you are in the world go and capture some street life, ideally taking in some action and personality. I've found that most people are fine about it, as long as you ask them first. Let them then get on with what they are doing so it looks authentic. (Above a satay restaurant Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo)
Tip 6 - Get Up & Get Down!
When you think about it most photographs are taken at eye level, when stood up. Meaning we stop put the camera to our eye and take the picture. What about looking for different perspectives? Here's an example of one of my photography students doing just that on Inchcailloch Island, Loch Lomond.
Tip 7 - Photograph Nature
Why not photograph nature? Get up close with plants and flowers. Especially after it has been raining, with drops still hanging onto petals and leaves. This is a good way of practicing depth of field, focusing on the main subject and blurring the background.
Tip 8 - Make Good Use of Bad Weather
Bad weather is great for photography. Linked with the point above I often photograph subjects and places after it's been raining. I think in the example above that this helps to make this Classic American car stand out more.
Tip 9 - Create Your Own Scene
Invest in some props (or use what's in your home) and build a scene. However simple, or complex is up to you.
Tip 10 - Be Prepared - Always!
Finally always carry your camera with you and keep your eyes peeled! You never know what you're going to see next. Like in this example some paddle boarders going through what looks like the Scotland flag!
Hope you found these tips useful and are inspired to take lots of different photographs this year. Please leave a comment below, or get in touch if you have any questions.
Paul Saunders is a Wedding Photographer, Family Portrait Photographer & Commercial Photographer, he also runs regular Photography Training Courses. Based in Loch Lomond he works throughout Scotland. For more information please contact Paul on 01360 661029.