5 Tips to Take Better Photos (By Shaira Luna, Magic Liwanag and James Reid)

Photos by: Jen Uson

Manila-based photographers Shaira Luna and Magic Liwanag, and actor James Reid are unprecedented with their talent in taking photos, telling stories and curating their feed respectively. With a huge number of followers on each of their social media platforms, it’s pretty clear that these artists are highly regarded because of their creativity and well-sought passion. It’s only natural, too, that people would take influence from their work because let’s be real: who wouldn’t want their work to be on the same level as theirs?

While we do want a unique sense of style to take form when taking photos, a few basic tips from Shaira Luna, Magic Liwanag and James Reid themselves should be fine to propel your photo-taking skills to a steady boat ride— and well, to keep the expedition that is telling a story in every photo taken in a more meaningful light.

Photo by CASTRO Communications (Left to right: Magic Liwanag, James Reid, Shaira Luna)

Now, let’s get started with the basics:

5 Tips to Take Better Photos

5. Always have your camera with you.

You’ll want to make sure that you won’t miss a single opportunity.

Having your camera around will bring out the confidence in you, too. Having your camera dangle ‘round your neck will make you feel confident in your skill and will help you familiarize yourself with the craft in some way. It’ll also spur you to start experimenting with your device. This way, you’ll get to explore the features of your camera and you will be rewarded with better-looking photos or perhaps a neat-looking accidental shot.

James Reid also suggests taking time to work your camera as the camera will do the work for you. Try experimenting with a prism or neon lights. Just remember to be patient when studying your camera settings and make the chore of exploring every feature of your camera fun!

LOOK: Neon Portraits Give Major Photography Goals

4. Take photos for the sake of it.

Don’t let the standard of your audience dull out your purpose of doing photography. You’re doing it because you love it— not because you want every person who looks at your work to appreciate it. Don’t be too self-conscious about what you post online, as Magic Liwanag put it. He adds, “As long as it satisfies you, everything will follow through”.

Although we’d love for everybody to be pleased with our craft, thinking about it too much and allowing the pressure to get to you will only mess with your head. Let photos be a medium to satisfy your passion to click the shutter to make short-lived memories permanent.

3. Do you.

Taking interest in somebody’s work is definitely not a crime, but wouldn’t it be more introspective and more meaningful to add a personal touch to your work?

You can reference past eras like Shaira Luna does in her photos, delve into music photography as Magic Liwanag does, or curate your Instagram feed in a certain aesthetic like James does best; but nothing beats defining your personal style. Defining your personal style isn’t something to be scared about, and emerging from the limits we see on our Instagram feed isn’t something to be scared of, either. In fact, Shaira suggests narrowing down the shortlist of people that you follow to help you find your tone and build your own brand from that point.

Photo by Shaira Luna using the Fujifilm X-E3

A preview of James Reid’s curated feed

2. Build relationships.

Although grounding yourself from acquired skills and Googling about the craft may seem like it’s enough, communicating with the people you photograph and building relationships with clients will grant you the benefit of knowing their story better. In turn, this will give context to your photos. It will also create a connection between your film and the audience.

Photo by CASTRO Communications (Left to right: Tia Hempphil, Wanda Chen, Jane Kasibug)

1. TAKE A SHOT.

Honestly, the technical stuff doesn’t matter, anyway. The camera settings, the post-editing, and the curated feed won’t matter if you don’t take the shot. Magic Liwanag says, “Take a shot, not just when taking photos but in everything” because you’ll never know if you can make it or not, or if it’s really for you. Sure, it’s a risk, and the inevitable failure is lurking right at you; but failing is part of the learning process which altogether humbles you from being too confident.

You can study all the books about taking portraits, be the Dumbledore in the world of photography, full of wisdom and tricks about the craft, and maybe memorize all the jargon about camera settings; but unlike knowing the real essence of taking photos, an all-knowing one is never apart from the amateur one. Ground yourself with these tips and you’ll never go wrong.






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