Taking amazing photos doesn’t necessarily require an expensive equipment, but what it takes is to learn some basic skills and tricks.
In this article we will give you some easy and useful tips on how to improve your photography and use this knowledge for fun, your blog or your social media. Enjoy!
1. Move around, shoot a lot
Many beginners make the mistake to spend a lot of time on composing a certain shot, or they think they have found the perfect angle, light, composition and they stop experimenting further. After some time, they keep producing the same picture and style over and over again. If you take a lot of photos and move around, later you can notice that you accidentally (or not) took a very interesting shot! This shot was taken after a lot of walking along the shore and taking series of pictures, waiting for an interesting moment, alignment of the people in the ocean:
2. Stay still
But then, sometimes is better just to hold still. This piece of advice is very useful especially in street photography. Streets are busy, your brain is trying to catch up with processing a lot of information, so help it and stop for a second! Observe. May be you will capture a flying moment, that otherwise you could easily miss.
This lady was noticed struggling to open her umbrella. She looked somehow detached from everything else happening around her. The result – strong shot:
3. Get up, get down to eye level…
Getting down, for example, can help a lot when shooting children. If you shoot them from above, the viewer will get a feel of distance and detachment. When you move to the eye level of the kid, you can also find some interesting, new perspective for a certain scene.
Not long ago, a famous nat geo photographer published his young son’s photos and they went viral. The kid has over 500,000 followers on Instagram. The reason? One of them is that the boy, logically, is lot shorter than most of us, and he is able to show us things from an unusual point of view. You can see these pictures here.
4. Get close
Get close! Using the zoom function of your camera can often cause loss of quality. Professional photographs, more often than not, prefer to get physically close to the subject. An exception of this is wildlife photography, for obvious reasons. When getting close to your subject, you notice many details that you risk on missing out when shooting from a distance. If you are shooting people, try to get them feel comfortable first, so they don’t feel intimidated when entering their personal space.
5. Shoot the moment, not the subject
What we are trying to say here, is that life is consisting of moments, events and not only images. Try to capture part of event, to tell a story and not only arrange objects nicely for your shots. At least, this shouldn’t always be the case.
This girl was spotted at a Medieval Festival, passing through the crowd, with sunset light at her back, creating an interesting halo effect. Nothing about this photo was staged. It was just a lucky “incident”.
6. Notice the small things
Usually people would want a photo with wide smiles, striking their best pose in certain setting – holiday, party, etc. There is nothing bad in capturing these moments. But what is far more interesting for the viewer and for you, after some time, are the little details that not everyone notices, which are not “staged”. What is happening when packing for a trip, when the party is over, when you interact with others or preparing for a celebration? These are only few scenarios that you can start exploring.
Again, this is a shot from the same Medieval Festival, at which people were demonstrating different crafts and skills. Actually, at this moment the man, whose hands you see on the picture, was laughing and talking to his friends. What many people didn’t notice though, were his rough hands of a craftsman and how he held his tool with confidence and care.
7. Shoot everywhere
Again, don’t be predictable. Take you camera with you… everywhere. This way you can capture unusual, intimate, passing moments and evoke powerful emotions in your viewers.
This shot was taken during a walk at the beach, but instead shooting by the water, the girl was spotted walking through the beach grass, just on the opposite side. The wind was blowing and created nice blurred effect of the grass, the girl’s hair,and created an illusion of flying moment.
8. Know the light when shooting indoors
When shooting indoors, take your time to examine how the light gets in the space, where is “softer”, where is direct, where it casts shadows and if it forms interesting patterns that you can use. You can move subjects into the light. Try to experiment and make use of artificial light sources as well.
There was few places in this building with good natural light. The shot was taken while this woman was washing the dishes near the kitchen window. The overall feel of the picture is warm and soft, because the clouded sky this day and the natural soft light that illuminated the woman’s face.
9. Avoid direct light when shooting outdoors
Try not to shoot in direct sunlight, because your photos will often look burnt, overexposed. Sometimes is enough to move (or take) the subject under a tree, around the house, where shadows are cast, or use other objects that will stop the direct and aggresive sunlight.
This man was shot under his tent, which protected him from the bright sunlight. The sun created interesting shadows and patterns at this shot.
10. Use natural light
No matter if it is day or night, search for sources of light and avoid using flash. Natural light patterns create far more interesting effects and create a specific atmosphere, ambiance. Remember that the light from sunset and sunrise is the best for shooting light during daytime.
This photo is a good example of great day light, which helps the subject to stand out and to allows you to enjoy the richness of colors.
11. Use color combinations
There are many sources on the internet from which you can learn a great deal about attractive color combinations and how colors “work” together. Color has the power to create bold images, pictures with certain mood and feel to them. Here is an example:
12. Use monochrome
Monochrome (or black and white) photography has entirely different effect on the viewer. Have in mind that photographers often prefer it, when the color of the shot scene is not that important, but the pattern, lines, texture and other elements of the photo. Furthermore, monochromatic photos bring a certain feel of dramatism.
A little bit of technical…
13. Use gridlines
There is a simple, so called “Rule of thirds”. It is simply three vertical and horizontal lines, crossing you canvas and dividing it in equal parts. Except when making a symmetrical shot, try to position your subjects where these lines cross – our eyes are more attracted to things positioned in such way, rather than placing things in the middle of the shot.
14. Use 45 degree angles for portraits
Depends on your needs, but sometimes a portrait directly shot from the front looks flat and 2-dimensional. A simple but very effective tip is to try to shoot 45 angle of the face – immediately you add depth, dimension to the photo and the viewer gets a better feel for the person in the photo.
15. Straighten photos
Our eyes are used to horizons, horizontal lines and they have a calming effect on us. Unless you want to add dynamics, action, tension to the scene, avoid sloping lines in your shots. They would distract from the focal point of the shot, you are trying to emphasize on. There are many software tools that help to straighten lines in your photos easy and quickly. Some of them are Lightroom and Fotor.
You can see a tutorial of how you can straighten your photos here:
How to create an interesting shot
16. Look for symmetry
As we mentioned, is not always bad to have something placed in the center of the shot, and this is when we find symmetrical elements to shoot. That would mean, elements similar (or identical) placed on both sides of a imagined line. Symmetry creates rhythm, which helps to structure and organize a picture in our mind and leads the eye.
17. Look for patterns
For some reason, we love patterns, textures and layers in visuals. Pattern is not only something printed on textile, or painted on the wall, but all kinds of elements can be organized into patterns, even shadows can create patterns. Look for geometric shapes, strong forms and colors repeated over and over again.
18. Look for reflections
One good thing about bad weather? Puddles of water with strange shapes, that reflect the surroundings and create one of the most likable shots on social media. Don’t forget all the other reflecting surfaces – mirrors, pots, glass tables. Look at their surface and may be you will find an interesting things captured in these frames!
19. Create abstracts
Abstract is when you get really, really close. Basically, you see only a very small part of a whole subject, so that is barely recognizable. Abstracts catch the essence of an object and often make the ordinary, unique and surprising. This is enough to spark your curiosity, isn’t it?
In this shot the photographer was shooting during night time and she was shaking her camera while shooting a street light, which creates something unrecognizable, but interesting.
20. Be non-conventional
Images are more effective than text, but they need to show unique ideas, in order to be memorable. Composition, color and light can make a photo great, but think as well about the overall idea of your photo. What do you want to tell, show? This is the reason why, many photographers have thousands of good photos, but they show only a few – the ones that show not only the technical skill but also reveal one’s creativity and thinking process.
21. Make people smile
People love having fun and being entertained. Some of the most effective and memorable visuals are the ones with humor in them. Make people enjoy your stories and they will ask and come for more!
22. Clear up the background, use negative space
Always look what is behind the subject you want to shoot. Avoid clutter and distracting elements and leave room for the object to “breathe”. It is good to have at least 15 feet free behind your subject. Try to pick a location with even light (sides of buildings, alleys, etc.), solid and pattern wall with not too bright colors are good too. Negative space we call the space that looks like empty and it is not cluttered with objects. Negative space helps to focus on the main subject and to underline it. This photo is a great example of combining these two techniques.
23. Create a certain feel
If you are taking photos for your company, business, client, take your time to research their environment, colors they/you use in branding and have these in mind when making photos for them. Bring businesses closer to their customers by shooting them in the office or in some sort of context and not only with a plain background. Again, this background shouldn’t be distracting from the main subject! The sense of consistency you will try to create with these shots will help your social content to be more integrated with your/ your client’s brand.
As recap, we could safely say the photography is another beautiful art of visual storytelling. If you are curious reading more on the topic of how to create stories you might find our article about storytelling interesting.
We hope you enjoyed learning simple tips for improving your photography for blogging, social media and the like and we’d be happy to hear how you implemented them in your projects!
Stay tuned for more articles on helping you to improve your designs and visual communication!