- How to Tell a Story With Your Photos
- Make Your Photos Better With These Photography Composition Tricks
Learning how to take good pictures doesn't have to be complicated.
In fact, there are plenty of simple, straightforward photography tips that you can use to create much better photos, regardless of the subject.
In this quick guide, I offer up a few handy photography techniques that I use all the time to take improved images.
Let's get to it!
Worry Less About Technical Stuff
When you look at a photo and think "WOW, that's a great shot!" the chances are good that you feel that way not because of its technical prowess, but because it triggers a feeling or emotion.
That is, while it's important to learn the fundamentals of exposure, lighting, composition, and so forth, it's just as important to learn how to create photos that connect with people.
In fact, if you put a technically perfect, yet unemotive or cold photo next to one that's got a composition error or that's not exposed just right, yet connects with the viewer on an emotional level, guess which one will be deemed the better shot?
You guessed it...the photo that's not quite technically perfect.
In the image above, for example, the background is cluttered and busy, which is something that you typically want to avoid. But because it captures a sweet moment of a little boy lost in his own world, it's a great shot.
In the image above, the focus is off - the dog's snout is in focus while his eyes are not. Again, that breaks a fundamental rule of portraiture, but the image still works because there's so much emotion in the image.
With that in mind, spend time learning the fundamentals of taking a good photo, but also focus on the artistic side of photography - how to create something with visual impact and feeling that will reach out and grab viewers. One of the most powerful photography tips out there is to express yourself in your images!
Don't Forget the Background
Whether you're taking a photo of a person, an animal, a landscape or something in between, it's important not to focus solely on the primary subject, but also to consider the background.
That's because the background can either help or hinder the photo by bringing attention to the subject or taking attention away from it.
In the image above, the background is too bright, and the tree behind the model looks like it's extending out from the top of her head.
In other words, while the model looks lovely, the background is simply too distracting and takes our attention away from the subject.
In this example, notice how the brightness of the shot is much more consistent from front to back. That is, the background is no longer popping off the screen as it was in the previous shot.
What's more, by placing the model on the pathway, the lines it creates as it moves into the background of the shot helps frame the subject, keeping our eyes on her rather than wandering around the shot.
So, as you can see, in learning how to take better pictures, consider how the background impacts the shot.
Consider Light AND Shadows
The mistake that some new photographers make when creating a photo is that they only look at light.
That is, they see a sunset with its beautiful colors and soft light and think that's all that's needed for a great landscape photo.
As far as photography tips go, you also have to consider how shadows come into the mix.
In the image above, for example, the sunset is gorgeous, but the silhouette of the mountain isn't.
Because the mountain takes up so much room in the shot, and because you can't see any details in that area, the shadows make this image feel heavy and incomplete.
This image, on the other hand, has a much better balance between light and shadows.
Notice how there are areas of bright light, midtones, and dark shadows, all working together to create a nicely balanced image.
Though there's nothing wrong with silhouettes, it's often a better bet to try to balance out light and shadows.
Think BEFORE You Press the Shutter Button
Years ago when I was just starting to dabble in photography, I got into the habit of taking a lot of photos in a short period of time.
I guess I felt like I needed to hurry so I didn't miss out on something.
The problem with that approach is that I was concentrating so hard on getting as many shots as I could that I neglected much more important things, like framing, composition, camera settings, and so forth.
In short, I ended up with tons of photos, most of which were total trash.
That being the case, learn from my mistake and focus on quality instead of quantity.
Slow down. Take a breath. Double-check your exposure settings. Experiment with the composition. Take the time needed to craft something that speaks to people.
It can be hard to slow yourself down, especially if you're taking photos of something that's time-sensitive, like wildlife or a sleeping baby or a landscape that's illuminated with gorgeous light.
But trust me when I say that taking 10 extra seconds to pay attention to the fundamentals of the photo is how to take good pictures - not slamming down on the shutter button as often as possible!
Editor's Tip: Complete your photos by turning them into fine art. Find out how.