Improve Photography: 5 Practical Self-Expression Ways
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Explore unique perspectives
  2. Experiment with lighting
  3. Incorporate color theory
  4. Play with depth of field
  5. Try abstract photography

Photography is more than just clicking a button; it's an artistic form of self-expression. When you consider how to improve photography for self-expression, you're looking for ways to tell your unique story through the lens. Here are five practical ways to enhance your photography skills and put your personal stamp on every image you capture.

Explore Unique Perspectives

When it comes to self-expression in photography, the first step is to break away from the ordinary. You can create stunning, personal images by exploring unique perspectives that reveal your distinctive point of view.

Look Beyond Eye Level

Most photos are taken from eye level, but you can add a fresh spin to your images by changing your perspective. Try shooting from a bird's eye view or go low for a worm's eye view. Experimenting with different angles can lead to surprising results and give your photos a sense of depth and intrigue.

Fill the Frame

Another way to push the boundaries of your photography is to fill the frame with your subject. By getting closer to your subject, you emphasize their details and personality, making the viewer feel like they're part of the scene. Remember, the frame is your canvas—don't be afraid to use every inch of it to tell your story.

Use Reflections

Reflections can add a new dimension to your images. Whether it's a mirror, a puddle, or a shiny surface, reflections can create an abstract, dreamlike quality in your photos. As you explore how to improve photography for self-expression, using reflections could be a game-changer.

Play with Shadows

Shadows are more than just dark areas in a photo—they can be powerful tools for self-expression. Shadows create contrast and mood, giving your photos a dramatic flair. Pay attention to the shadows around you; they might just be the perfect ingredient to spice up your photography.

Exploring unique perspectives is all about stepping out of your comfort zone. So, don't be afraid to experiment, make mistakes, and most importantly, have fun with it. Remember, it's your story to tell, so tell it in your own unique way.

Experiment with Lighting

Lighting plays an essential role in photography. It can transform an ordinary scene into a captivating image, highlight specific elements of your subject, and even set the mood of your photo. Experimenting with different lighting techniques is a great way to improve your photography for self-expression.

Utilize Natural Light

One of the most powerful sources of light is the sun. Depending on the time of day, natural light can create a wide range of effects. Morning light offers a soft, gentle glow, while afternoon light can produce strong contrasts and vibrant colors. You can also play with shadows during different times of the day to add depth to your photos.

Try Golden Hour Photography

The golden hour—the time shortly after sunrise or before sunset—provides a unique, warm light that can add a magical touch to your photos. The soft, diffused light can enhance the colors in your scene and create a dreamy effect. So, wake up early or stay out late and capture the magic of the golden hour.

Experiment with Artificial Light

Don't limit yourself to daylight. Artificial light sources, like lamps or LED lights, can offer you control over the intensity, direction, and color of the light. Try using these sources to create interesting effects, highlight certain aspects of your subject, or set a specific mood.

Play with Shadows

Shadows aren't just the absence of light; they're an artistic tool. Playing with shadows can add depth and drama to your photos, creating a sense of mystery or emphasis. Experiment with the direction and intensity of your light source to create different shadow effects.

Remember, there's no right or wrong way to use light in your photography. It's all about experimenting and finding the approach that best tells your story. So, get out there, play with light, and let your creativity shine!

Incorporate Color Theory

Color theory, a set of principles used to create harmonious color combinations, can be a powerful tool in photography. By understanding and applying these principles, you can guide the viewer's eye, evoke specific emotions, and even tell a story. This is a fantastic way to improve your photography by adding a layer of self-expression.

Understand the Color Wheel

At its core, color theory revolves around the color wheel. The color wheel comprises primary colors (red, blue, and yellow), secondary colors (created by mixing primary colors), and tertiary colors (created by mixing primary and secondary colors). Getting familiar with the color wheel allows you to create color harmonies in your photos.

Create Mood with Colors

Colors can evoke different emotions. Warm colors like red, orange, and yellow can convey energy and passion. Cool colors like blue, green, and purple can communicate peace and tranquility. By carefully selecting your colors, you can set the mood of your photos and express your feelings or ideas.

Use Color Contrast

Color contrast—using colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel—can make your subjects pop and draw the viewer's attention. For example, a red flower against a green background or a blue bird against an orange sunset can create a striking, eye-catching image.

Experiment with Monochrome

Color isn't just about vibrancy and contrast. Monochrome images, which use varying tones of a single color, can create a strong visual impact. They can draw the viewer's attention to textures, shapes, and patterns that might otherwise be overlooked.

Color theory can seem complex at first, but it's well worth the time and effort to learn. By incorporating color theory into your photography, you can create visually appealing images that express your unique perspective and tell compelling stories.

Play with Depth of Field

Another effective way to enhance your photography and express yourself creatively is by manipulating depth of field. The depth of field in a photograph refers to the portion of the image that appears sharp. By adjusting this, you can draw focus to specific parts of your image, creating an intriguing narrative or a striking visual effect.

Highlight Your Subject

One common use of shallow depth of field is to isolate the subject from the background. This can add a professional look to your portraits and still life photos. The blurred background brings the viewer's attention to the sharp, in-focus subject, making it stand out.

Create a Miniature Effect

A less-known but fun technique is tilt-shift photography, which uses a large depth of field to make real scenes look like miniature models. This can be a fresh and playful way to capture landscapes or cityscapes.

Add Mystery with Bokeh

Bokeh is the aesthetic quality of the blur in the out-of-focus parts of an image. By using a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field, you can turn background lights into pleasingly soft, blurred circles, adding a touch of magic and mystery to your night photos.

Bring Everything into Focus

On the other end of the spectrum, using a small aperture to achieve a large depth of field can be great for landscape photography. This ensures that everything—from the flowers in the foreground to the mountains in the background—is in focus. It's a wonderful way to capture the grandeur of a scene.

Whether you're blurring backgrounds to focus on your subject or capturing a sharp panoramic view, playing with depth of field is a great way to improve your photography for self-expression.

Try Abstract Photography

When you're looking for a way to break free from traditional photography norms and express your artistic side, abstract photography can be an exciting avenue to explore. It's all about seeing the world differently and capturing images that stir emotions or provoke thought.

Focus on Shapes and Lines

The shape and line of an object can often be more intriguing than the object itself. Look for interesting patterns, structures, or silhouettes in your surroundings. The curve of a leaf, the lines of a modern building, or the pattern in a patch of sand can make for compelling abstract images.

Use Motion Blur

Motion blur is another interesting technique you can use in abstract photography. By slowing down your shutter speed and moving your camera during the exposure, you can create surreal, dreamy images that stand out.

Zoom in for Details

Extreme close-ups can reveal details that often go unnoticed. The texture of a tree bark, the intricate patterns on a butterfly's wing, or the swirls in a coffee cup can become fascinating subjects for your abstract photos.

Play with Reflections

Reflections can distort reality and create interesting visual effects. A building reflected in a puddle, the play of light and shadow on a shiny surface, or a distorted image in a mirror can add a unique twist to your abstract photography.

Remember, with abstract photography, there are no rules. It's all about pushing boundaries and letting your creative spirit soar. So why not give it a try? You might be surprised at how it can improve your photography and enable a whole new level of self-expression.

If you're eager to improve your photography skills and find your unique style, don't miss the workshop 'How Do I Find my Photographic Style?' by louisbever. This workshop will help you explore different ways of self-expression in photography and guide you in discovering your own distinctive photographic style.