5 easy steps to taking better photographs
Having shared a series of posts about editing with apps, I thought it might be handy to wind back to the beginning and talk a little about photography basics. I want to keep this really simple as unless you’re looking at turning photography into a career, we don’t need to over complicate matters here.
Fundamental in every way when taking a photograph. Think about the type of light and the direction from which it enters your frame. Harsh light can be difficult to work with and either early morning or last light is definitely my preference for photography. Or cloudy days, they are pretty good too! Whether using artificial or natural light, I would say making sure your subject is well lit is essential, if the light is too bright or harsh you risk over exposure and high contrast shadows. If the light is too low then grain is a problem. Think of the mood you would like to create. Window light indoors is my favourite of all and positioning a subject closer to or further from the light source will alter the feel of a photo more than you might imagine. Lighting is such a massive topic that I won’t write an essay here, instead I will point you in the direction of this article if you would like to read more, full of great tips and written for iPhoneography though the same theories apply to all photography.
It possibly goes without saying that focus is reeeeally important. But I’ll say it anyway. Focus is really important. Because frankly most people are not likely to engage with out of focus photography, I know that I – for one – want to see what I’m looking at in focus and (preferably) grain free. Intentional blur can be a beautiful thing, background blur I adore but make sure your main subject at least is in focus.
Framing is also a fundamental element of great photography. Get it right and your photos will feel better pretty much instantly. Think about where you place your point of focus, consider the rule of thirds. If you are not familiar with this then turn on the grid on your camera screen, using the grid which divides the screen into thirds each way (ie nine squares) frame your photo so the point or points of interest either run along these lines or are placed at the intersections of the lines. Supposedly more pleasing to the eye… That said this is one rule that has exceptions and a frame that is cut exactly in half by your subject can be brilliant. Sometimes thinking outside the lines can lead to moments of beauty too, think of the grid as more of a guideline than a rule to be strictly followed.
This goes hand in hand with framing. Think about what you want your photo to say. Is there a single thing you would like the focus to be on or is the whole frame important? Having depth in your photo is much more interesting, though plain backgrounds have their place if you really want the focus to be on your subject. Think about what is around your subject, in front, behind and to the sides. Don’t be afraid to move around to find the perfect framing, sometimes the first shot you take will be the best but sometimes it takes a few attempts and different positions to find the right photo.
A photo with straight lines and / or leading lines is so much more eye-catching than a wonky horizon or skewed angle. That’s just a fact. Taking a moment to line up your lines is SO worth it, a little wonkiness can be corrected later in editing if needs be but you want to have the essence of a decent photo to start with. Leading lines are those that draw your eye into the frame, as in the porches below, your eye is drawn to the back of the photo. The straight lines are the horizontal and vertical ones, try and square them up in the frame before taking a photo.
I think there can be a tendency to over-complicate matters when it comes to photography and whilst there is a place for complicated technical information as I mentioned above, it mostly becomes relevant if you want to further your photography skills beyond sharing on Instagram. It also isn’t so important which camera you use, the photos above were taken with 4 different cameras including 2 with my iPhone…