by Andy Templeton
[For Beginners or a refresher for the Pros]
1. Move closer to your subject. Nothing kills a photo quicker than a distracting background. If you have a great background try bringing the subject closer to the camera so they don’t get lost. Remember this tip if nothing else.
2. Take lots of pictures. Digital photography is cheap and it is good! It is okay to shoot multiple photos with only slight variations…keep and share your best photos. Also you don’t need an expensive camera; I have photos from all over the world hanging on my walls that were taken with a $300 point and shoot.
3. Get creative. It doesn’t take much to enhance a photo. Pictures taken from 5 ½’ above the ground can look repetitious. Think about changing the perspective – get down on one knee or on your stomach if possible. Stand on a chair. Experiment with different lenses if you have them. Experiment with composition.
4. Rent equipment. Professional camera stores are not just for professionals. They have rental departments where anyone can pick up an exotic lens for a day or more. Many that can be used on non-professional cameras. These rental departments are manned by people with lots of photo knowledge and people are generally more than happy to “talk photography” if not too busy at the moment. Don’t be shy.
5. Use the camera’s flash. Especially outside. Your eyes can look at a person in front of a sunset and see their smile but your camera can’t. It is either going to record the colors of the sunset and your subject will be a silhouette or your subject will be visible and the background will be overexposed. Be conscious of shadows on people’s faces – again utilize your flash. If your subject is looking into the sun they are squinting – turn them away from the sun and fill shadows with flash.
6. Think of your camera like a painter’s canvas. Be the artist. Is there a garbage can or other unwanted item in the frame that can be eliminated by simply moving a foot or so to the left or right? Look at the entire frame you are about to capture, not just the one main element you are focusing on. Sure you can fix it in Photoshop but it is better to capture it the way you want to see it.
7. Study Pictures. Pictures you like. Cut them out of your favorite magazines or newspapers. Keep a file on your desk and just take a moment to look at them and tell yourself what you like about them. Bookmark web sites that have photos you like. Go to them often. Develop your eye.
Oh, and move closer to your subject
8. Learn to take a little criticism. All photographers love their own photos. You put your heart and soul into them. You want to show them off. They are pictures of your kids, taken with the camera you always wanted and just bought. How can people not love them? Remember art is subjective. Not everybody is your mom.
9. Get your pictures published. Local newspapers have photography contests, generally centered on a theme: children, pets, travel. If you are in the right place at the right time, CNN might be interested. Don’t forget about the internet. There are always photo contests you can enter online. Publish your own website. There are plenty of free sites that will allow you to build a web site using your photos. They are a great way to share our art and these days you don’t need a degree from MIT to do it.
10. Learn from your mistakes. But don’t be afraid to break rules. Photography is fun and creative. Nobody is going to die if your snapshots are a little off or weird. What might not work one day may be a stroke of genius the next.
And one last time, move closer to your subject.
For the amateur photographer, these are ten easy, non-technical tips to help you improve the quality of your photos. While there are many technical aspects of photography, great pictures usually begin with a confident photographer who has learned to master composition before worrying about F-Stops.
About the Author
Andy Templeton is a professional photographer located in Orange County, CA. Andy specializes in editorial, public relations and corporate photography. Find his site at http://atempletonphoto.com/ to see his photography, access articles on leveraging images to enhance your business or access his photography blog.