I remember the first camera I got, and all I wanted to do was bolt outside and start taking pictures that I just knew would be jaw-droppingly beautiful.
But, if you've been into photography for any amount of time, you know just how much time, effort, and patience it takes to become skilled at this craft.
It's just not as simple as pointing your camera at something and pressing the shutter button...
But taking better photos also doesn't have to be a hugely involved process, either. After all, we're all busy and we all want better results sooner rather than later.
With that in mind, here are a few tips and tricks that will help you compose more compelling images that will be more like the ones the pros take and less like the first photos I took back in the day when I was too impatient to learn a few tricks of the trade.
Fill the Frame
One of the hallmarks of a photo taken by a beginner is that there's simply too much going on.
That is, rather than bringing the viewer's attention directly to the primary subject, there's foreground or background elements competing for attention.
Filling the frame helps rectify that problem.
Look at the image above, and note how filling the frame means there's nothing to take your eye off the baby.
What's more, because we have such an up-close view, the portrait feels much more intimate with the baby's facial features on full display.
But filling the frame isn't limited to portraiture. You can use if for landscapes, street photography, wildlife photos...you name it.
At its heart, filling the frame is about eliminating what's not important so that you can focus on creating an image of what is important. By doing that, you create an image with much more emotional and visual impact that takes it to another level.
Exaggerate the Subject's Importance
Once you've figured out what your photo is really about, it's time to make the subject shine by making it an even more important element in the shot.
For example, when photographing a landscape, incorporate elements that give a sense of scale to the space. In the image above, the inclusion of a human figure allows us to better understand the sheer breadth and depth of the waterfall, as well as the volume of water that's involved.
You can also exaggerate the subject's importance by using contrast. In this case, the darker form of the man contrasts nicely with the brightness of the water. Again, this helps the viewer's eye move directly to the human figure, which is the most important element of the shot.
What's more, you can use your angle of view to bring greater attention to certain aspects of the photo.
In the image above, the steep angle of view emphasizes the height of the trees. For a different effect, you can get very low to the ground to bring greater attention to details like the texture of a plant or rocks. Looking down on a subject from above is another unique perspective that helps convey the importance of the subject.
The point is that the vast majority of photos are taken from a standing position and at a normal eye level. By simply changing your positioning, you can create a more compelling photo that viewers find far more visually pleasing.
Give Your Images Depth
One of the struggles with photography is that you're trying to represent a three-dimensional scene in a two-dimensional medium, such that it still has that three-dimensional feel.
One way that you can do that is to incorporate compositional elements that help you create more depth and dimension in your photos.
For example, including an element in the foreground often gives the image depth while also helping define the space. In the image above, the elk's positioning in the foreground helps us understand just how far away the mountains in the background actually are.
What's more, that foreground-background connection helps this photo tell a better story about this elk - that it's living in a vast wilderness, seemingly left to survive all on its own.
Including foreground interest is especially beneficial in landscape photos, like the one above.
Here, the rocks along the bottom of the frame invite your eye into the shot by delighting it with various colors and textures.
Because the photo was taken with a wide-angle lens, you also feel as though you're standing right there along the shore.
Together, foreground interest and a wide-angle lens help create a more dynamic photo in situations like the one pictured above.
It's All About the Lighting
It's no secret that photography is all about lighting.
It's likely also no secret that some lighting is better than others.
When it comes to the best lighting, many photographers favor natural light over artificial light. There's plenty of reasons for this, but primary among them is that the quality of natural light is often better.
But even within the realm of natural lighting, there is a continuum of quality.
Light at mid-day tends to be very bright and very harsh, qualities that generally don't produce good photos.
However, light at the beginning and end of the day - Golden Hour - is soft, warm, and will help you create drama-filled photos like the one above.
But waiting until sunrise or sunset isn't always in the cards. In that case, moving into the shade, like under a tree, or waiting for cloud cover to help filter out some of that harsh mid-day lighting will do your photos wonders. That's because shady or cloudy conditions have much softer, more even light that's flattering for many subjects, especially portraits.
For even more detail about these tricks (and a few other ones too) check out the video below by Joshua Cripps: