4 Simple Ways Anyone Can Take Better Photographs
by Luis Rocha
Dec 26, 2017
An Age Old Question
There is one single solitary question that pro photographers consistently hear from their friends:
“How can I take better photographs?”
In the past month alone, I have received this question from my fiancé, my mom, and even a few coworkers headed abroad for vacation. Each of them are armed with different pieces of equipment and varied levels of technical expertise.
With that in mind, this blog post was created to give easy-to-apply advice that photographers with even no experience can begin applying to their work NOW.
Keep reading to learn the simple secrets that will improve your photos instantly:
Tip 1: The Rule of Thirds.
The rule of thirds begins by breaking an image down into (you guessed it) thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 total parts, as shown in the image below:
The idea is to mentally create these grid lines while framing your shots and placing the main subject of your photo into one of the intersecting points. Studies show that a viewer’s eyes instinctively go to one of the intersecting points rather than the center of the shot. By applying the rule of thirds, your images become more of a natural viewing experience as well as subconsciously more pleasing to all viewers.
If shooting a landscape, you should aim to line-up your horizon with one of the horizontal grid lines as shown below:
If you’re an iPhone-ographer, you can turn on Rule of Thirds guidelines by going to Settings > Camera and switching the Grid option to “on”. Now you can effortlessly check for optimal composition.
Tip 2: Straighten, Straighten, Straighten
There is no faster way to ruin an otherwise amazing shot than by making it crooked. To avoid this, when framing a shot, look for straight lines in the background and make sure they’re straight in your composition. If taking a landscape shot, align your photo to the horizon. However, be careful when taking shots in busier locations such as big cities. Horizontal lines can fool you if you aren’t looking at them straight on. Verticals are always vertical. Align your shot with things like flag poles, edges of buildings, etc and your perspective will be dead on.
However, if you’re taking a picture of the leaning tower of Pisa… leave it tilted.
Tip 3: Avoid Digital Zoom
When the iPhone 7 Plus introduced two lenses to its camera, a lot of people did not understand why photographers got so excited. We were jazzed at this new feature because the typical “pinch-to-zoom” functionality in the iPhone’s camera app is considered “digital zoom”, which stretches pixels and reduces image quality. Optical zoom, in contrast, “makes” more pixels.
Generally speaking: if there is no lens moving, its digital zoom. If there is an actual lens moving as you zoom (ie. DSLR) or the camera has a second lens with a tighter focal length (an iPhone Plus or X), then its optical. Most cell phones have no moving lenses so all zoom is done digitally.
To avoid stretching pixels, simply zoom with your feet! Walking closer to your subject ensures that you maintain the highest image quality possible.
Tip 4: Get The Vintage Film Look with the VSCO App
Most if not all of your favorite Instagram photographers produce awesome results by emulating that hip, old-school film look in their photos. Achieving this look yourself is as easy as downloading the VSCO (short for Visual Supply Company) app in the iTunes or Android App store.
This app features many built in film emulation presets as well as several packs you can purchase, my favorite being the “Alchemy Collection”, which allow you to turn your photos into vintage works of art at the push of a button.
This is not an ad. I simply LOVE this app! I started using it when I was a newbie to photography and still use it to this day when I want to quickly upload create a quality Instagram upload on-the-go without having to download the file to my laptop.
With the prevalence of iPhones, Instagram, and the like: photography has become a skill everyone needs to understand. Your photos are guaranteed to instantly improve by following the 4 tips I have detailed today. What I love about these tips is that ANYONE can apply them - no matter how long you’ve been interested in photography!
If you have any specific photographic questions or otherwise, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email or contact me on any of my social channels. I am here and happy to help. Make sure you subscribe to my e-mail newsletter or follow me on Instagram or Twitter to keep up with my blog posts and get more tips that will up your photography game in no time!