Quit Taking Boring Pictures

Thanks to modern technology, we live in a world where everyone with a smartphone is a photographer — or, so as to not piss off photography purists — has the means to take and share photos, daily.

Since most people alive today with a phone are on some type of Social Media, were able to share the pictures we take for the whole world to see with just a push of a button. Even the predictable, blurry, incredibly boring pictures that we somehow seem to think worth posting. Social Media is littered with them.

Like I said, we’re all photographers capturing little moments in life. But not every picture we take is a photograph.

Everything we share, whether we realize it or not, is part of the legacy we will eventually leave behind. Why not make it awe inspiring, right? We have the capability. We have the tools. We just need the vision.

I’ve been asked a lot recently “what type of camera” I use for shooting some of the photos I share. Seems the general consensus among most people who are inexperienced at taking photos is that it’s the gear and the type of camera that really makes a good photo.

But this, my friends, is complete hogwash.

A great number of the photos I share are captured from my inexpensive Moto G cell phone. That’s right. And the camera I use for more serious work or when traveling is the compact, modestly priced, Sony A 6000, that I bought used and refurbished on Amazon for a great deal.

The best camera, however, is the one you have in your hand. It’s not about having expensive gear or a top-notch camera, it’s about style. If you have a phone with a camera on it, you have the potential to create wonderful photos every time you shoot. As the great Ansel Adams once said, “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”

Your brain, the ability to visualize, and a nice scene are all you need for a quality image.

Here are 5 simple tips that’ll help take your photos from bland to grand.

  1. Find a different perspective. If you find yourself in front of a beautiful scene and see a crowd of people taking a photo, move far away from them and take your photo at another location. I promise, they’re in the obvious spot which likely isn’t the best spot. As the late Poet Charles Bukowski once reminded us, “true creation is a solitary act.” Try and visualize the scene in a different way than everyone else. Don’t be afraid to use various camera angles and different positioning to create images that, surely, no one else around you is capturing.
Most people stand on that bridge you see or the shoreline to take ordinary photos of the sunset over the this lake. If they would have stepped back a little, positioned themselves away from the crowd, they would not have missed this amazing scene.

2. Avoid putting your main subject in the middle. Learn the rules of thirds, meaning, dividing your scene into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, then placing your subject on one of these intersecting lines. This rule also applies when positioning your horizon in a landscape photo.

The Rules of Thirds.

3. Leading lines make a great photo. Railroads, fence lines, roads, etc. invite the eye to subconsciously journey along from one point of the photo to another point. Lines tell a story , a quest — sometimes leading to a subject, or a convergence in the far distance, or even mysteriously meandering out of the picture. It leaves the viewer curious and makes the photo engaging and fascinating.

The leading lines of the railroad converge in the foggy distance leaving a sense of wonder.

4. Get low. Get low. Get low. Find an interesting object in the foreground that makes your main subject in the background even more compelling. Having a nice foreground also adds depth to the photo. Be careful not to make the foreground so overwhelming that it distracts from your main subject. You want it just subtle enough to add a little zest to the background.

Getting low and capturing the washed-up sea foam just added another element to this image as a whole.

5. Post-process your photos. There are many wonderful Apps that’ll help you add a little flavor to your photo. One of my favorite is an App called Snapseed. That’s just one of many. Be cautious, though, when people first start out editing their photos they tend to over do it. I made this mistake, too. The goal is to make the image pop but keep it in the realm of reality.

Snapseed Editing App.

There you go, I hope this helps out a little. And remember, the more you practice and really think about what you’re looking at before taking the picture the better it’ll turn out.

“Photography is a love affair with life.”

Happy shooting!