Photography tips

Avoid camera shake

The rule of thumb when it comes to beating camera shake is to make sure the shutter speed is equivalent to or faster than the effective focal length of the lens – so at least 1/100 sec for a 100mm lens on a full-frame camera. If you’re shooting on a camera with a smaller sensor, multiply the focal length and shutter speed by the crop factor: 1.5 for APS-C sensors (1.6 for Canon APS-C models) and 2 for Micro Four Thirds.

Be prepared to get down and dirty

Don’t photograph everything from your eye level: finding a higher vantage point or getting down low can help your pictures stand out. Shooting from a low angle makes subjects look more imposing and allows you to draw viewers into a picture: look for leading lines to pull the eye from the foreground to the subject. A camera that has a fold-out LCD screen or Wi-Fi compatibility for seeing the Live View feed on a smartphone can help with framing.

Focus for close-ups

You need to be very careful to make sure your focus point is absolutely spot-on when you’re at close proximity to a subject, as the depth of field is minimal. It can often be better to put the camera on a tripod, switch to manual focus and magnify the Live View display so that you can position the focus precisely.

Travel light

For urban photography, you want the minimum amount of kit. A fully loaded camera bag feels heavier as the day goes on, so stick with just one or two lenses. Bag type is down to preference: backpacks spread the load, but a shoulder bag gives you faster access. Read more: The 10 best travel cameras

Dealing with high contrast

If a scene includes an expanse of light sky and a dark foreground, fit a graduated neutral-density filter to the lens to help balance the exposure. Alternatively, take two shots, one with the sky exposed correctly and the other with the land exposed correctly, and blend the exposures in software.

Background exposure

If the background of a shot is much darker than the subject, the result may be overexposed, so try setting exposure compensation to -1 or -2. To prevent a much brighter background causing the camera to underexpose, try exposure compensation of +1 or +2.

Keep the horizon level

Use your camera’s electronic level, a hotshoe spirit level or the grid display to make sure the horizon is level in your shot. If you don’t have time to use these options, a quick and dirty option is to use the edges of the AF points in the viewfinder.

Speak out

Art photographer Cig Harvey says: "Bear in mind that your camera is a tool to help your creativity. I love the idea that our cameras are just expensive pencils – it is what we have to say that is important."

Be open

Street photographer Ryan Hardman says: "Don’t hide your camera when taking street images, because this often puts people on edge. Just have the camera around your neck and when you see someone exciting, bring the camera up to your eye and snap away. If the subject stops you and asks why you are taking images of them, just politely explain why you have done so and the intentions of your image – for yourself, competitions or magazines."

Shoot with a theme in mind

Ryan Hardman says: "Often street photography can be lacking a theme, making the image the photographer has taken become weak or uninteresting. My best advice would be to think about a theme and reason for the capture of street photography other than because the subject was interesting. This will in turn help when you’re confronted by a person who is outraged you have photographed them. Trust your gut – if the subject feels on edge and aggressive, don’t photograph them."