10 Quick Tips for Taking the Perfect Photo
Photographs capture a moment in time. Whether you use your mobile phone, a point and shoot digital camera, or a top of the range digital SLR, we’ve compiled a few tips to help give your photos the wow factor.
- Keep it sharp – Focus on keeping your photograph sharp and in focus, unless your objective is blurring for artistic purposes or to depict movement.
- Direct your photos – Take an extra minute to give directions where you would like your subjects to stand or what you would like them to do. Become a photo director, not just a picture taker. Use props, don’t be afraid to move people around, or try a different viewpoint.
- Viewpoint – Selecting your viewpoint has a big impact on the composition of a photo and can greatly affect the message that a shot conveys. A subject can be made to look quite dynamic by shooting it from an extreme angle, or simply viewed differently from different angles. Take the time to think about what angle or where you will shoot your subject from. Consider photographing from above looking down, from below looking up, at eye level with your subject, a side perspective, from behind, at a distance or extremely close up.
- Lighting – Great lighting makes for great photos – nothing is more important than light in photography! Think about the light in your photography in several ways, such as the direction of light, the intensity of light, and the quality of light. Overhead sunlight can cast harsh shadows, if you are photographing people; avoid squinting in your photos by moving your subject into a shady area. Cloudy or overcast days can provide a softer light source for photographing people. Scenic photos are best taken using the long shadows and colour of early morning and late afternoon when the light is warmer and softer.
- Follow the leading lines – Leading lines such as horizontal, vertical, diagonal, curved, straight or zigzag lines move the viewer’s eye around your subject. Naturally occurring lines such as clouds, railroads, fences, roads, tracks, rivers, buildings and bridges can be an extremely powerful way to draw the viewer into your photograph or between points in your image. Lines can be actual lines or lines implied by the composition of elements and they can add a dimension and depth to your photograph.
- Cropping – Before you take a photo, take a moment to look into the corners of the viewfinder to see what you have in your frame. Do you need all that background? Ensure that everything in the viewfinder is there because you want it to be there. Often a photo will lack impact because the main subject becomes part of its surroundings. By cropping tightly around the subject you ensure that subject gets the viewer’s undivided attention and creates an intimacy that comes with getting close to your subject. Don’t be afraid to move closer to your subject to have them larger in the frame.
- Keep the horizon straight – Too much slant or angle to the left or right can spoil a spectacular sunrise or sunset, or make an ocean look as if it will leak out of your frame. If your camera has a built in grid use it to help you keep the horizon straight. If you don’t have a grid on your camera, line the horizon up with the top or bottom of your view finder.
- Create depth – A feeling of depth and perspective woven into your photograph can make it more interesting and engaging. You can create depth in a photo by including objects in the foreground, middle ground, and background. The human eye naturally recognises these layers and mentally separates them out, creating an image with more depth.
- Experiment – Living in an age of digital photography, we can now see instant feedback of our photography efforts. We no longer have to worry about the long lag time between taking a photo and seeing the results. Experimenting with film was impractical and expensive, but now we can fire off hundreds of shots and delete the unwanted ones later at absolutely no extra cost. Digital photography is the perfect medium for experimenting – so why not take advantage of this? You never know whether an idea will work until you try. The possibilities are endless!
- And lastly… what’s fun without sharing? – There are many different ways to share your photographs with family and friends or even the wider public. Websites and apps like Instagram, Picasa, Photobucket, Facebook, and Flickr allow you to organise and upload your photos, tag them with date and location and share them with family and friends. There is also an emergence of applications that allow you to transform the look and feel of your photos through the use of digital filters and share digitally with family and friends. A print of your photograph is still a lovely way to share your memories and make for a nice decorative element for your home or office.