Before smartphones, many of us would tote around a digital camera, hoping to catch the odd special moment with our kids, grandkids, and friends. Nowadays, more and more everyday events are considered photo-worthy. Since we have better-quality cameras bundled into devices we’re already using, why not take that snap?
Still, it doesn’t mean that all of us are very good at it. Those of us who didn’t grow up with cameras everywhere may find that there’s something “off” about nearly every one of our captures. Here are five tips for the most amateur of amateur photographers.
1. Focus manually.
The number one problem people who aren’t good at taking photos have is that their pictures are very blurry. Fortunately, smartphones make it very easy to fix. For starters, don’t use the zoom too much; this leads to poorer quality and will make slightly blurred pics look even worse.
Instead, get physically closer and focus manually. Touch the screen lightly where you’d like to place the focus, and hold steady as this portion of the frame comes into clearer view.
2. Don’t fiddle with it too much.
So, you’ve recently discovered your love of filters. Filters can be great for adding a mood to a photo, or making certain colors really pop. But you should be careful about adding too many, as this can just make the photo look unreal.
The same goes for heavy-handed photo effects that make your picture look like it was sketched with a pencil, or taken with an old-timey camera. Chances are, you won’t value this photo as much years down the road. It displays an effect, not the people or places in the shot.
3. Try to avoid using the flash all of the time.
Today, we can do better than that harsh, extreme close up blown out by the flash, and a lot of it has to do with knowing what our camera lens is capable of. Avoid using a flash if there’s lots of glass or any mirrors in your photo, and do your best to use environmental lighting instead.
Do use a flash when there are lots of shadows in the frame. Speaking of that, it’s always better to stick to flash photo when there’s no wall directly behind your subject – this will create more shadows.
4. Be mindful of the horizon.
Imagine the horizon in the background of your shot – would it be straight? We might think we’re being a little creative by skewing this and using unusual angles, but it’s something that can really ruin our shots. It does so almost subliminally to most of us, as it distracts from the subject of the photo.
That said, if you’re taking pics of people in front of an actual horizon, lift your camera up a little so it doesn’t run directly through their heads. This is also distracting.
5. Consider composition.
The best shots are the ones that make us feel like we’re there. For example, your dog is having a great time chasing the ball, and you want to get a picture of how excited they are.
The best shot wouldn’t be a tight close one of their face; it would be a shot that shows them chasing the ball. The same goes for candid pics – want to capture someone in their natural habitat? Then don’t fill the frame with their face; show us what they are doing. Be mindful of common mistakes like cutting off the top of someone’s head, or leaving unnecessary blank space in the shot.