As a photographer, I am occasionally asked “how can I take better pictures?” My stock answer is “put yourself in front of more interesting subjects.” This is usually not well received by the asker and I have to go into further detail. There are several points to take into consideration to move beyond taking snapshots. Here are several tips for taking better pictures. These are some fundamentals that will help your photography.
1. Get Closer to Your Subject
We’ve all seen throngs of tourists with cameras around their necks, pointing the camera aimlessly, snapping up whatever image is in front of them. Hundreds of pictures are taken and boring slide shows ensue. You’ve probably seen a vacation slide show – picture after picture of boring landscapes, tiny people next to big objects, buildings – not much in the way of personality. The idea here is that you are seeing something with your eyes that is appealing to you – either light, texture or whatever – it is a subject. The snapshooter stands 6-10 feet away from the subject and snaps a shot. What I’m suggesting is that you do is move forward 5 steps past where you feel comfortable. You might think you’re crowding or invading your subject’s space. If you feel that sensation, go even further, take a couple more steps. Find the most interesting thing about your subject and frame that in the lens. If it’s a human being, it’s most likely their face, particularly their eyes and mouth. There are usually pictures within pictures everywhere and if you get closer, you’ll find interest within your subjects and your photographs will be better.
2. Photography is all about Light
Cameras record the reflectivity of light – that’s really all they do. There are better qualities of light which can turn a snapshot into an artistic photograph. The first and last light of the day is the best light to transform an otherwise boring image into an artistic expression. The middle of the day is that absolute worst time to take outdoor photographs (unless you’re in open shade and use fill flash to illuminate a face).