Thursday, June 13, 2013

Simple Tips for Great Photos (From an Amateur)

I have a friend who often tells me I am a great photographer. I don't think I am that good, but I do manage to get some great shots.  I have never taken a photography course nor read any books on photography, although it is a goal some day.  But for now, I just wing it.  I do have some basic simple tips for taking better photos that you may find useful.

  • Any digital camera will do.  In fact, one of my favorite cameras was the first digital camera I had.  Higher pixels only makes for better pictures if the subject is good.  I know people who have big Nikon's and their pictures are horrible.
Taken with my old Sony Cybershot 3.2 Mega Pixel Camera
  • Look at what will be in the picture, not just your subject. I personally don't use the viewfinder on my camera.  I prefer to look in the little whole. However, the viewfinder mode is an excellent way to see what will be included in the photo.  For posed photos, having an appealing background, say in front of the fireplace, will render a nicer picture than standing in the kitchen with a pile of dirty dishes in the background.   In candid photos, you won't have the option of choosing the background.  Instead, consider your distance from the subject at hand.  Moving closer or zooming in on your subject can eliminate a good bit of background noise.
My girls having a "sleepover" with friends.
Notice the fan, messy cabinets behind the couch--
This distracts from the photo.
    Zooming in a bit makes the photo cleaner.
  • Consider your lighting.  Taking photos in bright sunlight can produce a harsh look, not to mention people with scrunched up squinty faces.  Move to the shade, if possible.  Low lighting indoors can produce grainy photos taken with a digital cameras, even with a flash.   Turn on extra lights, open window coverings to let light in and/or check and see if you have a setting on your camera for a brighter flash.
  • Take photos of your subject a bit off side, rather in the center.  Whether a person, a flower, or a building, shooting it offside will result in a more aesthetically  pleasing photo.

These flower photos are much more interesting because they are not centered.
  • My dirty little secret.  Sometimes I take gobs of photos of the same subject.  The more pics you take, the more likely one will be good. 
  • In the age of digital cameras, you can get an idea right away if it is blurry or not or if the lighting is bad.  Retake.
  • Check your point of view.  Sometimes a picture of your kid taken from above is cute.  However, as a general rule, get down to their eye level to capture their essence. Conversely, don't sit and take photos of adults from below.  The results are not very flattering. 
Check out Mr. Big Knees here.
If I had stood up a little more, he wouldn't look like he has overgrown knees.
  • Check your settings.  If you get a little more adventurous than point-and -shoot, make sure you change your settings back.  Countless times I have had photos blurry because I didn't change my settings back to multi-point focus from single point focus.  A lesson I have learned the hard way and still learning.
  • Use photo-editing software.  There are many good ones out there and you don't have to spend big bucks on one, either.  You may have a program on your computer, such as Windows Live.  I have also used a free download from With photo editors, you can crop photos, adjust brightness, colors and more.
  • Take your time.  Rushing a photos can result in shaking the camera slightly, leading to a blurry photo.
  • Experiment.  With digital, you don't have the added expense of film and developing costs so you have more freedom to experiment.  Take photos from different perspectives.  Try different lighting.  Capture moments.  

  • Look at others photos that you like. What is it about the photo that you like?  Try to replicate the same style.

I hope these tips will help you take better photographs!

1 comment:

Hobbies on a Budget said...

Great tips Ann! I do think you have beautiful pictures! I am in the same place you are. I love to take pictures and always have my camera with me. My biggest pet peeve is background eye clutter! I HATE to see dirty dishes in pictures of my kids or a backyard chainlink fence with my gorgeous tulips! Thanks for reminding us that great pictures start with just getting out there and trying new shots!

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