The 10 Commandments of Photography


Here’s something new. A photography article with no pictures.

There is one rule you need for taking great photographs. It was a favourite saying of noted British nature photographer Heather Angel and most of the 10 Commandments come from this simple phrase:

"f8 and be there"

Read on to see why that’s all you really need to know.

  1. You can’t take a picture without a camera. Take one with you everywhere because you never know what you will see or where or when.
  2. You can’t take a picture without the camera being ready. Keep it clean, fully charged and with enough memory/film to take the shots you find. You might well have a fairly small and simple one on you at all times. It will be the one you use when you’ve left the SLR in the car because it was too heavy.
  3. You can’t take a great picture without knowing how to use the camera. Learn how to turn it on and take a shot on auto without looking at it.
  4. You can’t take a great picture on auto. Well you can but it might well be better if you know how to override.
  5. You can’t take a picture without a subject. Get up and go somewhere with a camera, some time and a photographic intent.
  6. Shoot early, shoot often. Many opportunities are lost looking for the perfect shot. Take every shot, angle and subject as soon as you can. As the light or subject changes, shoot more. You can edit or delete later. Take your first shots on Auto and worry about fine control later.
  7. You need to ‘see’ the pictures that are there. This is practice and study. Take lots of photos and look at other peoples. Best of all go out for a shoot with another photographer. Learn what they see and how they render the same subject. You can learn both technical and graphical skills at the same time.
  8. Get the gear. While most cameras will do a decent job on everyday things, you need something better to take challenging images in challenging circumstances. Most people also don’t master the basic accessories of every camera – the flash and the tripod. Learn when and how to use them.
  9. Go to extremes. Most people can find everyday subject with everyday skills at the ordinary time of day. If you want to impress go for something they can’t shoot – an extreme close up, an ultra-wide shot, a super tele shot of a bird, a flower only you can find, a night shot of the city.
  10. You need to know how to throw away the images that are not strong. In the field that means keep shooting until you know you have the best you can get. At home it means editing and culling the duds. For showing it means only the best. Leave the audience wanting more.Show only the ‘wow’ images. Less is better.