1. When you’re composing a picture, take time to examine everything in your frame. Background elements can often ruin an otherwise terrific image and detract from the main subject. Photography is more about subtraction, what you omit from the frame than what you include in it.
2. Change your perspective, physically. Try photographing from very different angles, high and low. Try standing on top of your car or lying down on the ground to take photos. (I never wear nice clothes when on assignment.) Interesting angles can make for the most compelling pictures. When photographing your children or pets, get down at their level or below to take the picture.
3. Try photographing into the sun. It’s counterintuitive but can produce spectacular images, even with an iPhone. To expose your subject properly with your phone’s camera app, move the focal and metering point to your subject. Or, for nice silhouette images, move the focal point to the sun, sky, or bright areas.
This picture was the result of a frequent experience I have when photographing: It materialized while I was waiting for something else. Before dawn, waiting for the Knotts Island ferry, I noticed two piers jutting out into the Currituck Sound. With a tripod and long exposure, I was able to create this image. I love the simplicity of the composition, the color, the mood, and the feeling of absolute stillness and silence the image conveys. — Emily
1. Approach the person you are photographing as a person, not an object. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation. You’ll gain trust and have a better understanding of who the person is, thus yielding a more genuine portrait.
2. Have two separate cases for your memory cards, one for clean and formatted cards and one for full cards.
3. Always charge your batteries when you return from your day of shooting. Nothing is worse than waking up to get that sunrise and realizing that your battery is dead.
I really love this unpublished portrait of Tommy Malboeuf and L.W. Lambert at The Cook Shack in Union Grove, who have both since passed. I watched these two amazing musicians and great buddies make the fiddle and banjo do things you wouldn’t think possible. This image was shot with a 4×5 field camera on TMAX 400 film. — Joey
1. If you plan on taking pictures of your food, grab a seat by a window, but don’t just sit in it. Instead, move all around the table and watch how your movement changes the way the light interacts with the plate.
2. In the world of digital photography, we can snap thousands of pictures and instantly see the results. That can help people learn on the fly, but it can also encourage sloppiness. One of my favorite exercises is to limit the number of pictures I can take in a given day to say, 36, the equivalent of one roll of film. This forces you to slow down and be more thoughtful about what you’re photographing.
3. Keep a list of the creative devices of photography such as the rule of thirds, diagonal lines, framing,
emotion, and reflection. Try to incorporate one or
more in each of your pictures.
In a visual sense, there are several things I liked about this picture. The leading lines of the stakes, the boat and horizon pulling your eye toward the subjects, the calm water that creates a crystal clear reflection, and the morning light that seemed to be falling at just the right angle. But, what made this particularly memorable for me was the fact that I had no idea I’d be making this picture when I woke up. I was working on a story about North Carolina’s boating history, and I had the pleasure of riding around with Down East native Jimmy Amspacher to several old docks in the area. The plan had really been to shoot old boats parked at these docks, but we ended up at one of them on Cedar Island at just the right time. A few pound net fishermen he knew were getting ready to set their stakes and they invited me along for the ride. Moments like this one are great reminders that my camera is a ticket to meet people and experience things I likely never would without it. — Travis