Improve Your Photographs With 5 Simple Rules
September 27, 2010
Once upon a time, back in the dark ages (you know, before the YouTube, XBox, and cell phones) taking pictures required a mysterious substance called "film". The difference between film and digital cameras was that the photographer only had a limited number of exposures on a roll of film. Film also costs money, both to purchase and to develop. Therefore, one had to think about the photo one was taking before commiting it permanently to film.
This is why learning photography with a film camera was such a good way to learn the basics of photography. By photography, I mean something more than just taking snapshots. Take a look at the photos in a magazine, and compare them to your photos. What's the difference? It's not the camera. It's the fact that the photographer usually thought about the picture before actually pressing the shutter release. Take for instance the photo above, taken by a teenager. Admit it, you'd like to take pictures like that, too.
Almost everyone has a digital camera of some sort today. Cell phone cameras are rapidly encroaching on the quality of compact point and shoot digital cameras. In fact, the camera in the iPhone 4 can take quite stunning photos, as illustrated here. Even if you don't have a digital camera, you can take excellent photos with an inexpensive disposable camera as long as you realize its limitations. Remember, it's not the camera that takes great pictures, it's the photographer.
So how can you take your photos to the next level? Try these 5 simple rules:
- Think about the scene before you take the picture. What do you want this picture to emphasize? What mood or emotion would you like it to convey? Don't be afraid to "stage" the picture. That's what the pros do.
- Get closer or move back. Zoom in or zoom out. Concentrate on what's really important in the photo. If you're photographing a person, you don't always need to see everything in the background. If you're taking a picture of a landscape, move back and include a foreground element to give the picture a sense of depth.
- Move the subject or the center of interest out of the center of the photo. Visualize the scene as a tic-tac-toe game. This is called the "rule of thirds". Place horizontal or vertical lines (such as the horizon) along one of the lines. Where the lines meet is a good place to put the subject or center of interest.
- Use your flash, if you have one. Flash can fill in those shadows that make outdoor portraits on a bright sunny day so awful. If you don't have a flash, you can use a reflector like a white piece of paper to reflect light to fill in shadows.
- Read your camera manual in order to move beyond the "auto" setting, allowing much more creative control. Many cameras come with a DVD explaining its use. Watch it. I never would have understood the flash options on my camera if I hadn't watched the one that came with it.
Finally, let me recommend a fun book for low-budget do-it-yourself photographers: "Photojojo! : insanely great photo projects and DIY Ideas" by Amit Gupta.
Now get out there and take some great photos!
Image Credit: Flickr User http://www.flickr.com/people/calamity_photography/ via Flickr's Creative Commons.Tags: photography