Four photography tips you should pick up

These habits will change the way you take photos – for the better.

Lim Yu Jia
Lim Yu Jia

Published: 12 July 2016, 5:44 PM

Portrait photography is something I have always wanted to try, but never had the chance to. In fact, I wasn’t sure if I was capable of shooting anything beyond Insta-worthy images with a smartphone.

Imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to attend a photography workshop conducted by Singaporean photographer Edwin Koo three weeks ago.


Edwin Koo’s transit is a photography project that rides on nostalgia.
Photo credit: Edwin Koo


Here are some things I have learnt from my brief encounter with portrait photography.

1. Make small talk with your subjects

During the session, Edwin had only allowed us to use 35mm and 50mm lenses. We were thus forced to get up close with the various market vendors.

Admittedly, I was flustered when we were left to roam the area ourselves. Without the guts to approach anyone, much less know what to say after I did, I felt shy and out of place with the DSLR I was carrying around.

Little did I know that the bulky camera ended up bridging many of my conversations with the market vendors, such as an 80-year-old egg seller.


This adorable grandmother had an infectiously cheerful disposition.


After gesturing at my camera, she asked with a smile: “Are you here for a project?”

This opened the way for us to talk about many things – from her attachment to Tiong Bahru Market, to her family and her grandchildren.

Subsequently, I was less afraid of making conversations with strangers.


Uncle James, a 60-year-old florist, was another vendor I had the chance to talk to.


Looking back at the photos I had taken that day, the ones that stood out most featured subjects that I talked to.

The conversations I had with them made me feel connected with them, giving me new perspectives which I feel are essential in photography projects.

2. Don’t be afraid of rejections


The owner of this fish stall rejected me when I asked to take photos of her and her customers.


Rejection was a common experience we met that day.

While many vendors were shy, some did not like it when we took photos of them. They would wave us away, or in the case of an unlucky colleague, make a big fuss out of the situation.

Cameras can be intimidating to some, so if people are showing displeasure, just thank them (or apologise) and move on to source for others!

3. Don’t delete your photos immediately


Edwin formed contact sheets with the photos we took and showed us his editing process.


This is a habit we are all guilty of, including myself. I would always delete photos on the spot if I think they didn’t turn out to be what I had in mind.

However, it was during the review session afterwards that we realised there were so many other “potential” photos we would have missed out on.

The next time you shoot, wait till the end before you delete your photos!

4. A tip on post-edits: Choose a theme!

Before you edit your photos, decide on a theme for your series of photos. This ensures consistency in your photo editing, which will have a greater impact on your viewers too.

For example, if nostalgia is your theme, you may want to add in the same faded effect for all your photos.

I hope you find these tips useful. Pick up your camera, and start shooting now!

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