A Simple Guide To Take Good Photos

To start with, this is not a guide on how to take impressive photos, nor is it a guide on how to set proper aperture, shutter speed, depth-of-field, etc, etc. All I want to point out here is what I see most people doing incorrectly that can make the difference between an average photo, a good photo, and a GREAT photo.

Back in the day, before digital cameras were cheap, or even available at all, the only option we had was film cameras. You had to take some sort of care when taking your photos because, once you finished the roll of film, it had to be taken to a photo shop, not Photoshop, or a chemist, for them to take it away for the film to be developed. When you finally got the photos back, many days later, you hoped that no shots turned out blurry, underexposed, overexposed, or even off-centre. So, back then, people took their time taking photos to avoid wasting money getting photos printed that were not worth looking at.

These days, with digital cameras being affordable, and easy to use, more and more of us are taking more and more photos, which is great because photography is awesome. However, because it’s so easy to delete a shot that didn’t come out quite the way that you expected it, most of us point, shoot, and then examine the shot in the camera’s screen afterwards, and if it didn’t turn out right, take the shot again, and sometimes again, and again, etc., etc.

To save time, and avoid taking the same shot over and over, here are some simple pointers to, hopefully, make people say, “That was an awesome shot!” or, “You’re getting good at taking photos.”, instead of, “That was a bit blurry, what happened?”

  1. This is most important. Give your camera time to focus please, just 1–2 seconds is enough. If you rush the photo, and the camera lens doesn’t get time to focus, the photo will probably come out blurry.
  2. If you’re taking a group photo, trust the image on the camera’s screen, and make sure everyone is framed properly, ie. no heads are chopped off, no-one is missing off the left or right side, and that everyone is comfortable and relaxed. What you see on the camera screen is how the shot will turn out.
  3. Take control of the shot, tell your subject what you want them to do – nicely, of course – after all, you’re in charge of how the shot will turn out.
  4. Find a decent camera app, instead of the in-built app in your phone. Apps I recommend are, Snapseed, Google Camera, and Camera360.
  5. If you want to add filters and effects to your photos later, less is more. In other words, keep it simple, and don’t overdo the filters. Also Snapseed (see 4) allows you to very simply adjust brightness, contrast, and other parameters with simple swipe gestures, and it has some nice filters. So give it a shot, but don’t over-process.
  6. If you like taking “selfies”, go for it, but please use the option that activates the front facing camera in your phone. Don’t turn the camera around with outstretched arm, take the shot and hope. I see people do that all too often. You’re better off if you can see your image in the screen before you take the shot.
  7. Finally, take lots of photos, look back at every photo, see if you did something you didn’t like, and learn from it. There is no right or wrong way to take a photo, just photos that you like, or don’t like. Photography is an art, not a science.

Enjoy your photography, guys, and get out there and take lots of good photos.

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