What do you need to be a good photographer?
Let me start by saying you don’t need a fancy professional camera or the latest camera gear to take great photos. Some of the best photos you see today are taken with cell phones. There is not a specific equation to creating the perfect shot, and beauty is surely in the eye of the beholder, but there are a few easy tips and tricks to instantly improve your photography.
Tip 1: The Rule of Thirds
This tip, is commonly known as the first rule of photography, and is created to help you capture a well-balanced shot. The easiest way to enhance a scene or image is to use the Rule of Thirds. Imagine a Tic Tac Toe board on your camera lens (or screen). Try to capture a third of the sky in the top row, a third of the horizon or subject in the middle row, and the foreground in the bottom row. This little trick will instantly balance your photo.
Pro Tip – place your subject on the + intersections. Don’t be afraid to shy away from this a little because you can also crop your photo in post processing later as well!
Tip 2: Fill the Frame
One common mistake is that there is too much empty space in the frame. Unless the subject of your photo is a night sky or an amazing sunset, be sure to fill in the frame elsewhere. This goes hand in hand with The Rule of Thirds.
The photo is an example of a bad photo as the majority of the frame is taken up by a dull sky.
Tip 3: Leading Lines
You don’t want everything to jump out in a photo at once. You want to lead the viewers eye to the focal point or subject within the photograph. Leading lines is the best way to bring the eye to the subject.
You can use natural lines like a pathway to draw your viewer to the subject of the frame or even natural elements like mountains or shadows.
Pro Tip - Use multiple leading lines to really draw the attention to the subject. This photo is uses leading lines form the contrasting shadow line as well as the footprints that are naturally bringing your eyes to the subject
Tip 4: Put the subject in focus
Our eyes have naturally been trained to start at the left and move to the right. So try and put the subject on the right-hand side of the image.
Additionally, add in Tip 1 and place the subject at the top or bottom + intersections.
This photo uses this method bringing the subject in to the intersection on the right hand column of the Rule of Thirds as well as having the majority of the subject and detail completely on the right hand side of the image.
Tip 5: Depth of Field
Both Apple and the iphone introduced Portrait Mode a few years back. This simple click of a button is something that photographers have always had to manually do with their lenses.
Putting the subject in the forefront and blurring out the background (i.e. Portrait Mode) brings the viewers eye immediately to the subject of the photo, reducing clutter and making the photo easier to view
Pro Tip - Combine this trick with Leading Lines and The Rule of Thirds to have a better photo! Remember, subjects can be a leaf or a rock and it doesn't have to be a person when using the "portrait mode" technique.
Tip 6: Don’t Look Directly into the Sun
Protect your eyes and your photos and try not to take a photo when the sun is in the sky. Pointing a camera at the sun will create very bright highlights which will destroy almost any image.
Try to change your angle or rotate to keep the sun out of your photo. If you need to take a photo with a certain direction then it is best to shoot at a different time.
Tip 7: Know how to orient your camera
Many of the photos we take are viewed on mobile devices. Hold the camera in a vertical position vs a horizontal position to to take advantage of photos viewing on phones.
Pro Tip - If you ask a stranger to take your photo, make sure they hold the phone vertically! And then show them this article about tips to take better photos!
Remember, these are general tips. Of course, you can break these “rules” and still have an amazing photograph, but you should try to aim to use many of these when lining up to “get the shot”.