Today all of us play the role of photographers – using small electronic cameras, smartphones or tablets, we document each and every moment of our lives.
If you’d like to take better photos and memorize moments in your life in a more professional way, have a look at those 18 key tips.
1. Keep it to the eye level
Just like in real life, direct eye contact is far more engaging in pictures. When taking a photo of a person, make sure to hold your camera right at their eye level. When you take photos of children, this means stooping down to their level – shooting them from above won’t be quite as nice to look at eventually.
It’s not the question of catching the gaze of subjects in your photos – even if they’re looking away from the camera, the eye level angle will help to maintain realistic proportions and add a inviting touch that simply pulls you into the picture.
2. Take a step closer
If you feel your images aren’t what you had in mind, take a step or two towards your subject. Allow your subject to fill the frame of the photograph. This will instantly boost your the value of your pictures, where space won’t be wasted on things that you’re not focused on. Getting closer will also help you to document the facial expressions and emotions of your subjects.
3. Choose the right background
When photographing a subject, choose a plain background that doesn’t distract the viewer from the main point of the picture. Make sure there are no trees growing from the head of your subject or cars dangling from their ears. Take a moment to assess the background of your picture and if you find it disturbing in any way, just reposition your subject to a better suited background.
4. The light question
Light is the single most important factor in your picture. Before you position your subject or simply take a photo, analyze your surroundings and determine the source of light. This will help you to take advantage of it.
It’s a good idea to first experiment with artificial lighting. Analyze the ways in which light interacts with your background and subject. Note if it highlights a particular surface or your subject casts an interesting shadow. All these factors are something that can make a regular photo truly extraordinary.
When shooting a subject, make sure that light doesn’t fall directly behind you – it will create a flat boring light on your subject. Instead, try to get an angle with a light source to the side or behind your subject – play it well and you’ll get yourself an amazing picture.
5. Using Flash
You probably think that flash is a function you should use only during the night. Actually, flash can be of great use during the day as well – especially on those days when sun shines really brightly and casts harsh shadows on your subjects. Use flash to fill those unwanted shadows and create an even exposure.
When taking a picture of something or someone, it’s only natural that you want them to appear right in the middle of your photo. Sometimes this can be a bit boring and your pictures might lose on value. Spice up your composition by placing your subject on the side. If you have an auto-focus in your camera, make sure to turn it off – it usually focuses on subjects located centrally in the frame.
7. Choice of ISO
When it comes to choosing the ISO, ask yourself the following questions:
What time of day are you shooting? Taking photos outdoors in the middle of the day, you’ll need a lower ISO like 100 or 200. When shooting at night, use a higher ISO to make sure your camera’s sensor registers all the available lighting.
Will there be light exposing your subject? If your scene is dark, use a higher ISO like 800 or 1000.
Are you looking for a sharp image or one with movement? Capturing fast movement, you’ll need a high shutter speed – and that means you’ll also need high ISO to compensate. Likewise, when using slow shutter speed, you need to follow it up with a low ISO.
8. Generate smiles
Instead of saying what people expect when taking photos – ‘Smile!’ – tell a short joke. A genuine smile is the best feature in the shoots you’ll take of your subjects.
9. Educate yourself
Instead of investing in cutting-edge camera equipment or buying your tenth lens, try to direct your attention to photography books. They will inspire you, show you different ways of looking at things and give you some ideas on how to improve your own style of taking photos. Learning from the best is always a good idea.
10. Know the range of your flash
It’s very easy to lose the control of your flash and take picture of subjects that are located outside of its range. For many cameras, flash won’t reach objects that are further than 5 steps away from you. Look up the flash range of your camera in your camera manual. If you can’t find it, just experiment with your subject and take some photos in the evening.
11. Read your camera’s manual
There’s no better way to gain full control over your picture-taking than by actually reading the manual of your camera. This is a really important step in launching your photographic journey. Just because some things worked for your old camera doesn’t mean the new one will be exactly the same – cameras differ from each other in many respects. You probably aren’t aware of how many functions are hidden in your piece of equipment.
12. Keep shooting
With the arrival of digital cameras, photographers developed a new habit of instantly checking their creations on the miniscule screens. Little do they know that a brilliant moment worth photographing might be just passing before their eyes while they’re looking elsewhere. Instead of losing time checking pictures on your screen, focus on getting as many shots as possible – among 20 or 30, 2 or 3 might turn out the be really great!
If you’d like to put additional focus on a scene of a subject, use your surroundings as natural frames. From windows to archways, you can find great spots to take your photos and ensure viewers know what to look at.
14. Become an observer
Even if you don’t have a camera in your hands, you can train to be a great photographer by observing your surroundings and looking for the right shots around you. Try to notice your immediate light conditions and think about how you’d compose a picture of a beautiful scene that unfolds right in front your eyes.
15. Control your picture
In order for your pictures to gain real quality, you’ll need to assume the role of an active, instead of passive photographer. Take charge of the whole shooting process – choose the location, add props and arrange subjects to create interesting compositions.
16. Try to shoot pictures in the afternoon
The early and mid afternoon is a time called golden hours for a good reason – light is soft, golden and lightly touching your subjects, emphasizing the warmth of colors and casting delicate shadows. This goes for portraits and landscapes – they will both benefit from this kind of vibrant coloring.
17. Go for simplicity
Even if you see many things that capture your interest, you should take a photo of only one or two of them – otherwise you’ll create a messy composition that will simply confuse the viewers of your photo. Focusing on one element, your audience will have a clear idea about where to look.
18. Experiment with perspectives
Changing your perspective will have a great impact on the entire composition of the photo. They say that perspectives tend to be more engaging when we crouch or lie down. Elevating your position in reference to the subject is an interesting idea as well. Assuming a different perspective will help you to appreciate how different point of views create different kinds of visual language. Feel free to experiment with various perspectives and get creative.
If shooting is your passion, use those tips to improve your photography skills and you’ll see how each time you look through your photos, you’ll find them more captivating, engaging and simply more beautiful.