21 Tips for Taking Better Photos

And a little something extra

(Photo source: www.itake.pictures)

A lot of us want to take better photos but don’t have the time to watch an entire online course or reading 15 blog posts.

In the interest of saving you time I’ll give you some short, actionable tips to help you take better photos.

21 Tips for Taking Better Photos

  1. Take your camera with you everywhere you go.
  2. Judge your progress by looking at your own work (comparing past to present), not by comparing yourself to other photographers.
  3. Practice using different settings on your camera as often as possible.
  4. If you need to get a picture quickly and can’t remember how to adjust the settings to get a proper exposure, set your camera to Auto and let it do the work for you. While the result might not be perfect, it’s better to capture the moment than to miss it.
  5. Compliment the person you’re photographing.
  6. Promises of candy or ice cream can make even the most unhappy child sit still for a picture.
  7. Keep studying — there’s always more to learn.
  8. If there’s a location you really want to shoot a portrait in, but the light isn’t very nice, wait a few hours and shoot the portrait there during Golden Hour (45 minutes — 1 hour before sunset or after sunrise).
  9. Instead of rapid fire shooting, focus on the picture you want to take, and take it.
  10. Keep shooting.
  11. Know what you’re trying to communicate before you take a picture.
  12. Keep in mind the rule of thirds.
  13. Keep your background simple to avoid distraction.
  14. Move around and re-frame your shot until you like the way it looks.
  15. Get up high to flatter the body.
  16. Print out your favorite photos regularly. It makes a world of difference to see your work outside the space of ones and zeros.
  17. Change your angle of shooting for a different look.
  18. Get a reflector and practice using it (even if you’re shooting portraits with an iPhone, it will make a huge difference).
  19. Share your pictures with people.
  20. If you don’t know what to shoot, go outside and take a walk with your camera, you’ll find something.
  21. Learn the rules. Then break them. Then make your own rules.

Bonus section

I’m a big fan of short bits of information that can be surprisingly helpful.

To help you stay inspired, and maybe to change your perspective on photography, here are some of my favorite quotes from photographers I admire:

“I’ve said about a million times that the best thing a young photographer can do is to stay close to home. Start with your friends and family, the people who will put up with you. Discover what it means to be close to your work, to be intimate with a subject. Measure the difference between that and working with someone you don’t know as much about. Of course there are many good photographs that have nothing to do with staying close to home, and I guess what I’m really saying is that you should take pictures of something that has meaning for you.” — Annie Leibovitz
“Maybe the most important thing that I try to teach people or inspire them to believe is that they have a unique viewpoint. Most people have this idea that somebody else can do this better or they pursuing to find out something that they don’t know. But basically they know because you have the viewpoint and then you have a camera you can record that viewpoint. And then people criticize themselves and they delete pictures and they think they’re really bad at focusing or something like that but what they don’t, what they fail to notice is that nobody else can do the same as you can do. That even if somebody tries to do the same it’s just going to be a copy. It’s never going to be the same original viewpoint as you had. And I think as that confidence builds up and you see wow I can actually can do something that some people like then you also get the certainty that you don’t have to try that hard. You can just walk around with a camera and take a photo here and there. That’s basically the simplicity of it.” — Thorsten von Overgaard
“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” — Ansel Adams
“I think that emotional content is an image’s most important element, regardless of the photographic technique. Much of the work I see these days lacks the emotional impact to draw a reaction from viewers, or remain in their hearts.” — Anne Geddes
“Photography is a love affair with life.” — Burk Uzzle
“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” — Dorothea Lange
“Only photograph what you love.” — Tim Walker

Thank you for reading!