It's a horrible, sinking feeling. You know you should post regularly on Instagram. But as you scroll through your latest shots on your phone, you can't find anything good enough. Quite frankly, you think, "I wouldn't 'Like' this, so why should anyone else?"
To help you out, we've sought the advice of a true expert. With 15.7K+ followers on Instagram, Martina Govindraj – aka @YesZebra – has achieved a notable following for her architecture, street, urban, and underground photography.
One of the speakers at the forthcoming The Photography Show 2019 at Birmingham's NEC (16-19 March), and an Olympus Ambassador, Govindraj spends as much time as possible visiting cities across the world, shooting life as she sees it. Her work has been exhibited globally and she's worked with on a number of brand campaigns, from London Fashion Week to Pop Art auctions.
Read on to find her pro tips for capturing great photos on the go, and take your Instagram feed to the next level.
1. Always be ready to shoot
First the basics: make sure that you have your camera and/or phone, and they're charged. There’s nothing worse than worrying about your battery dying when you’re on the go. It's also important to keep your lens clean because great photos can be ruined by a smudge on the glass which distorts the image... unless that’s what you want to go for, of course!
2. Timing is all
Unless you want to capture floods of people, you need to arrive at locations at the right time to get 'empty shots'. That usually means arriving early and staying out as late as possible. The time of day most people are out is usually when the light is at its most harsh, which not great to photograph in. As the sun is going down you get slices of sunlight and darker shadows, which give your images more impact.
3. Don’t expect perfect results immediately
Practice, practice, practice. I use my Instagram to record my progress, to see how my photos and my style have developed over time. I carry my camera pretty much everywhere with me and take photos most days. Many of these will never be seen by anyone else, but it gives me the opportunity to experiment and see what I think works and what doesn’t. You can learn a lot from other photographers; it’s not a competition and most will happily talk about particular shots with you and how they achieved their final images. It’s a great way to develop and continually learn about photography.
4. Work on framing & composition
If you’re not sure where to start with framing, look for symmetry, because this creates a sense of balance in your photos. Even making sure that the horizon in your shot is straight will make a big difference. It takes a little while, but once you start to really look at the world around you, your framing and composition will improve. You can then start experimenting with breaking the rules, and see if this improves your images.
5. Be patient
Try to look for potential in scenes and then be prepared to wait. As so many elements go into creating that one good moment, you have to wait for the combination to be just right. This is where digital photography comes into its own because you no longer have to ration the number of photos you take to 24 or at best 36 exposures. However, it’s not advisable to take thousands of photos, because you still have to go through them all when editing. Focus on honing your photography skills first; then you won’t get photo-fatigue when you come to edit.
6. Develop your own style
Look for inspiration from other photographers, but don’t compare yourself to them. It’s difficult to be original when millions of photos are being taken and uploaded on social media every day. Find what you love to photograph and focus on that. Look at your favourite photos that you have taken and see if there’s a common theme or pattern. This could be the subject, angle, perspective, or choice of colour versus black and white. It’s okay to be different.
Always stay true to what inspires you and not what other people are doing. Using a particular filter when editing, or even the way that you number or title your photos, all make up your own style. If your style of photos doesn’t seem to fit into a particular category then congratulations, you’ve made your own category!
To learn more from Martina Govindraj, you can hear her speak at The Photography Show's Social Stage on 19 March 2019 from 14.30. Her talk will focus on visual storytelling on Instagram and include tips on how to improve your travel and street photography.
The Photography Show returns to the NEC for its sixth year, between 16-19 March 2019, offering everything any photographer, enthusiast or pro could possibly dream of; from the latest kit by leading brands to inspiring talks and demos from some of the best names in the industry. To book tickets, visit photographyshow.com. Don't forget to use the special Creative Boom code: CBMTP19.
What's more, The Video Show will make its debut at the NEC this year. Co-located with The Photography Show, it's ideal for budding filmmakers, professional videographers, vloggers or online content creators, looking to expand their moving image production horizons. Book tickets via: video-show.co.uk.