Tips for Taking Great Pictures from PTC's Professional Photography Program

Have you ever wanted to be a photographer? Of course you have, you’re a person. There’s nothing more attractive as a career option than getting to travel to exotic places or make a living from photographing the scenes and elements around you every day. Unfortunately for me, I never developed the skills to make my dream of using a camera for a career happen. As a result I’m sitting here typing this to tell you that it’s not too late to succeed where I failed. Think of these words as a note sent from the future telling you that the world depends on you learning how to hone your natural skills in capturing life.

It just so happens that Pickens Technical College has an excellent Professional Photography Program. The operative word in the title of the course is “professional.” Professor Lowell Mosher worked for 30 years as a professional photographer and 25 years teaching students how to succeed as a professional. The photography course at PTC, like all of the courses it offers, is equally about developing professional-level skills and how to be successful in the field. Mosher’s course also prepares students for the next level of education in photography. During his many years working as a photographer and teaching others how to be like him, he has picked up a few essential tips he hammers into his students to be a successful photographer:

  • Get to know your equipment. Mosher finds that photographers just starting out in the game tend to think that they can take any picture on any camera any time. I always struggled with using my camera and its equipment well enough to take advantage of all of its features to create the perfect shot. I also struggled with laziness and being terrible at taking pictures in general. A talented photography student like you should, according to Mosher, get to know your camera and test the settings so that you know how all the knobs and doo-hickies affect your shot.
  • Organize your shots into foreground and background. As you grow your skill in photography, you can start to experiment with different elements in your pictures. For beginners, however, the best and easiest way to organize your frame and start thinking about all the elements of each of your pictures is to consider what’s in the foreground and what’s in the background. Ask yourself what the viewer’s eye will be drawn to.
  • Be ready to make art. That is, be ready to take pictures whenever you can. Take a camera with you wherever you go and use it. Unless you’ve recently emerged from a 30-year nap in a cave or you’re vehemently against technology (in which case you’re probably not reading this blog post), you’re probably walking around with at least a phone camera everywhere you go. Inspiration strikes without warning and its moments are precious and fleeting. Take advantage of it when you can by snapping a picture of a scene or image that sticks out to you. Better yet, take your good camera or at least an intermediately good camera with you when you go out. You never know when you’ll need to take a picture of something.

Lowell Mosher challenges and engages his students to take better pictures and build a career out of photography. His instruction covers the basic elements of photography as a skill and how to build a business around those skills. And yes, you get to learn what all the doo-hickies are called on your camera and how to use them.

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