How many times have you whipped out your camera to take what you’d expected to be an award-winning photo and ended up with a dud? We’ve all been there, wondering what went wrong and how to take better pictures. Whether you’re working with an iphone camera, a point and shoot, or my very fave, a DSLR, here are three ways to improve your photography right now, absolutely free.
ONE:: Kill the flash
It seems counter intuitive, but using your camera’s built-in flash usually does more harm than good when shooting great photographs. When possible, move to a brighter location. If you’re indoors, head toward a window, pull the curtains wide open, or crack open the door. It’s impressive the difference that even just a bit more light filtering in can make in creating a beautiful shot.
Placing your camera on a tripod is also an excellent way to take a gorgeous photo in dim light. Steadying your camera on a tripod allows you to slow down the shutter speed on a DSLR camera, allowing more light to enter the camera resulting in a brighter photo.
TWO:: Compose the scene
All too often we make the mistake of placing the subject right in the center of the frame. Sure, you won’t be chopping off anybody’s head that way, but you won’t be telling much of a story in your photo either. Take a second to scan for details within the shot. Is it the pretty flower print dress that attracts you? The glint of light shining in your toddler’s dark brown eyes? The kite flying behind in the distance? Once you determine what you’d like to highlight in your shot, use the rule of thirds to compose your photo.
The rule of thirds basically means to divide your photo into a grid of thirds both horizontally and vertically. Place the points of interest or your focal points near the areas where the lines intersect. For instance, in the photo above my daughter’s downward gaze is near an intersection and leads your eye toward my newborn son (also at an intersection) snuggling cozily in his grandmother’s arms. For an in-depth explanation check out this rule of thirds post.
Three:: Change your perspective
Make your photos stand out from the crowd with a simple change of perspective. Take photographs of children by stooping down to their level. Climb a staircase and shoot from overhead. You’ll be amazed at how unique and beautiful your photographs will be just by using this simple technique. For more tips like these, be sure to sign up for my twice-monthly newsletter.
If you’re a beginner, you can learn photography from some of the best at Digital Photography School. It’s a fantastic website with comprehensive tutorials for all levels and genres.
I’d also recommend investing in a few essential photography tools, especially a simple editing program like Lightroom. That’s what I use and it’s been nothing short of incredible- especially since my camera tends to underexpose.
And of course I cannot close out any photography article without recommending a DSLR camera. They’re an investment, it’s true, but the quality of images and that background blur (bokeh) makes it worth every penny! If you aren’t sure you’re up for the purchase just yet, borrow a friend’s camera or purchase a used model. That’s what I did and though I love my Canon XSi, I’m ready for an updated model- one that shoots video too!
Try out these ideas for taking better pictures today and be sure to share your favorite tips for how to take good pictures in the comments.
Read more photography posts you’ll love:
- DIY Camera Bag Tutorials
- 10 Tools No Mom Photographer Should be Without
- 5 Free Sites to Enhance Images