8 pro tips on photography and how to improve your skills

Nowadays, it seems like anyone with a DSLR or a big camera is a photographer. As a free-lance photographer, I think that this is totally inaccurate. To be a good photographer, you need to have an eye for things. No books in the world will tell you how to frame a perfect shot as there is no such thing as perfect.


Now, here are 8 tips from a Professional Photographer that could really help you. I can attest to many of them, especially the last tip.

8 Photography Tips from a Professional Photographer

1. Be Patient

The best photographers are patient photographers. Find your light and your background and just sit and wait for something to happen in that light. The wait can be painstaking but a great photo lasts a lifetime.

2. Give Yourself Homework

Give yourself weekend assignments, practice makes perfect. A few examples; photograph just the color red, limit yourself to just one particular shape like circles, or pick a feeling like love. Mix it up all the time with your assignments so you don’t get bored.

3. Light is Key

Interesting light makes for interesting pictures. First you need to understand and recognize gorgeous light in every day life then you need to learn how to creatively expose for that light.

4. Shoot on Manual

If you are shooting on automatic or aperture priority you are doing yourself and your growth as a photographer a disservice. Shooting in Manual mode on whatever camera you have opens up a world of creative exposure options that aren’t available using your camera on automatic.

5. Break the Rules

Take the rule of thirds and other cliché photography rules and throw them in your trash bin. Everyone is a photographer these days, so if you want your work to stand out make your own rules, don’t be like everyone else.

6. No Place Like Home

Many people think the only way to get a great picture is to travel to exotic locations. That couldn’t be further from the truth, great pictures are just outside your door. Take an hour after work, which is typically right around sunset for most people and explore your neighborhood. Trust me, you will learn new things about your surroundings and you will get amazing pictures.

7. Don’t Be Lazy

When you see something you like, don’t simply stop, take your camera out and shoot it. Move around a bit, out some thought into what you want to say with this image. Find an interesting angle; look for something interesting to shoot through. Get up high and get low too – perspective is what separates the novice from the pro. Don’t be afraid to lie on the ground and shoot from the floor. When people walk by and think “What is that guy doing?” is often when I’m getting my best pictures.

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8. Learn How To Tell A Story

One picture can tell a story or you can use a series of pictures. Craft your art of storytelling and you will become a better all around photographer.

Are you ready for more?

Now, there are ways that you can learn from the experts and also avoid the mistakes of amateurs. If you are subscribed to HISTORY Channel (StarHub TV Ch 401), you are in luck. An up-and-coming production, Photo Face-off, will start from this 23rd September at 10:30 pm Singapore time.

In the six-part reality series, it features professional photographer, Justin Mott, travelling across Southeast Asia – Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, as he competes in a photography competition with a local amateur photographer from each city.

Here is something about Justin Mott


Professional photographer Justin Mott grew up in a small town in Rhode Island, U.S.A and studied photojournalism at San Francisco State University. A year before he was set to graduate, he took a trip to Southeast Asia, fell in love with the region and eventually settled in Vietnam. He never returned to school but he did once write an essay on the current state of photojournalism for Harvard’s Nieman Reports so he considers himself an Ivy Leaguer.

Based in Vietnam now, he hates and loves taking pictures of conical hats but it really depends on the day. Some of his work were published on The New York Times, TIME and Forbes among others and he has won several awards and accolades in his photography career.

About the Reality Series (texts taken from PR)

Five photographers from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam are competing for the assignment of a lifetime – an all expenses paid trip to New York City to photograph some of the world’s biggest stars and a trip to the Canon Photoclinic in Japan.

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To prove their worth, they must pass the screening process from hell – a three-round battle with photography fiend Justin Mott to show how far they will go to get the perfect shot.

This is photography as you’ve never seen it before. This is Photo Face-Off!


Episode 1 – Malaysia
Sep 23, Tuesday 10.30pm (SIN/HK)

In this episode, relief worker Christy Yeoh takes on Photo Face-Off resident photographer Justin Mott. Round one is a photography shoot out involving untameable, un-trainable free-range chickens. Round two takes contestants to KLCC Suria, where a blend of concrete and greenery makes for endless choices in the theme challenge. Finally, the two square off in a honey farm surrounded by a writhing mass of bee and, yes, someone does get stung. Four times.

Episode 2 – Singapore
Sep 30, Tuesday 10.30pm (SIN/HK)

In this episode, the challenge is issued by student Tan Jia Jun. His first task is a commercial photography shoot. Can he please the client, sell the product and outdo Photo Face-Off resident photographer Justin Mott in just 30 minutes? Next, Justin and Jia Jun head to Gardens by the Bay – a great place for photography in general, yet unsuited to the theme that they are given. The final challenge sees the pair balancing several storeys above the ground on a bobbing, bouncing slackline while trying to take the best photograph.

Episode 3 – Indonesia
Oct 7, Tuesday 10.30pm (SIN/HK)

Willy Lesmana, award winning amateur photographer, steps into the ring with Justin Mott in Bali. The first challenge seems simple enough – capture the perfect sunrise at Sanur beach. But with the sun rising fast, can Willy push his shot from “nice” to “perfect” to more perfect than Justin’s? The theme challenge takes place in the surfer’s paradise of Kuta. Finally, the two square off in Negara to photograph a buffalo race. But when the buffalos run amok, how close will Willy dare to get in his quest for the perfect shot?

Episode 4 – Thailand
Oct 14, Tuesday 10.30pm (SIN/HK)

Richard Silaraks takes on Justin Mott. There’s an old saying in photography – don’t photograph babies or animals. Unfortunately, the speed challenge for this episode is to photograph a happy baby near the Ayutthaya floating market. The theme challenge takes us to the famous Wat Chaiwatthanaram. Finally, contestants head to the Royal Elephant Kraal for their extreme challenge – to pose and photograph two elephants. Justin may be the professional but his inability to speak Thai hampers communication with his subjects. Who will prevail?

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Episode 5 – Vietnam
Oct 21, Tuesday 10.30pm (SIN/HK)

Vietnam’s challenger is fashion retail owner Hoang Thi Lan Phuong. The speed challenge takes place in Tao Dan Park, where contestants must cycle a trishaw through the park, picking up locals then convincing them to pose for the perfect shot. The theme challenge takes place at the enormous Ben Tanh Market. Finally, the contestants head to Cai Rang Floating Market to take pictures of the local vendors… while riding in a basket boat!

Episode 6 – Taiwan (1hr Season Finale)
Oct 28, Tuesday 10.30pm (SIN/HK)

In the grand finale, the five contestants gather in Kenting, Taiwan, location for the filming of Life of Pi. The speed challenge takes contestant underwater as they compete to take the best shot of Kenting’s abundant marine life. The theme challenge takes them to Kenting Stony Brook Nature Farm, a windswept cattle farm. Finally, the extreme challenge takes contestants up in the air as they struggle to take a great photograph while paragliding.

They are all very interesting challengers. I am sure that you can learn something from them. So, 8 pro tips and a reality series to show you how to become a better photographer. Have fun watching the show!