Expert Interview with Daniela Bowker: Improving Your Photography Game

How To  /  Photography
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Want to improve your photography skills? Need some help taking your art to the next level?

Recently, Daniela Bowker, editor of Photocritic, spoke with Mylio and offered some helpful hints for the modern photographer.

What are some easy ways to improve your photography skills?

1. What’s the story? Every photo needs to tell a story, and if you’re not sure of what the story is, why are you taking the photo? Before you even raise your camera to your face, think about what it is that you want to convey through the medium of photography. Deciding on that will then help you to select appropriate settings and choose framing to deliver on it.

Riding off into the sunset, Berlin 2014. Photo © Daniela Bowker

2. Get closer! I see an excess of photos that are taken too far away from their subjects, leaving them tiny dots swimming in a giant sea of background. Nothing in the frame should be extraneous to the scene; everything should be working to enhance the subject and tell the story. If it doesn’t contribute to the story, get rid of it!Painting the Wall, Berlin 2014. Photo © Daniela Bowker

3. Analyze. When you begin the editing process for your photos, look at each one and ask yourself: “What did I get right here? And what did I get wrong?” If you can identify one strength and one weakness from each of your photos, you can begin to work on improving your photography.

What common mistakes do photographers make that, once corrected, would greatly improve their art?

1. Not holding their elbows into their sides. If you stand flapping your arms about like a chicken, you won’t be able to hold your camera steady. Tuck your elbows into your sides and you will stabilize your camera, which helps to eliminate camera shake.

A lily-of-the-valley, shot early in the morning, using a 100mm macro lens, a tripod, and a Triggertrap remote release, with my camera on live view. Photo © Daniela Bowker

2. Not visualizing their scenes. By envisioning how you would like your image to look, you can work successfully to create it. It’s very rare that spraying around your camera and taking photos hither and yon will result in strong images. Be confident in what it is that you’re trying to achieve.

Young monks exploring Wat Pho, Bangkok. Photo © Daniela Bowker

3. Taking too many photos. It sounds counterintuitive, but by limiting the number of photos you take, you force yourself to think carefully about the narrative, the exposure, and the composition. This is the trinity of strong imagery; and by giving each its due, you will create better photos. Don’t ‘”hit and hope;” be more considerate.

What social media platforms do you use to display your work?

My “documentary” images are primarily displayed on Flickr. The few “social media” images I share on Twitter tend to be of moments that I wish to convey.Have you ever seen a happier dog? Finnbar running on Bamburgh beach. Photo © Daniela Bowker

Do you have any tips for organization and why organizing the photos we take remains important?

All of my images are filed by year, then by place, and then by month. They are also tagged, which enables me to locate photos from my visit to Hong Kong quickly and easily. But it also means that I can search for photos of “cake” if I know that I need a photo of cake for an article, or if I’m trying to find the photos of my nephew’s first birthday cake.

If I weren’t to engage in a logical storage and extensive tagging system, my photographic archive would be unmanageable and essentially rendered useless. I need to be able to locate my photos quickly and accurately. Tagging and archiving might take a little time; but in the long run, it’s worth it if you wish to be able to make use of and enjoy your photos.


Follow Daniela Bowker on Twitter!