9 Tips for Taking Great Photos

If your holiday photos fail to tell the story of your holiday, maybe it’s time you brushed up on your photography skills. So you’ve been through your holiday pics and uploaded only a tiny fraction onto your facebook page because the rest are boring, bland or just plain horrible. Here are a few simple tips for taking pictures to be proud of!

1. Know your camera

Are you one of those people who hasn’t ventured past the “automatic” setting on your digital camera? Spend an hour with your manual and find out what other cool stuff your camera can do! Practise on your pets until you have at least 3 or 4 settings that you understand and can experiment with.

2. Watch the Sun

As a general rule, make sure the sun is behind you, rather shooting into the sun. But at the same time, you don’t want your subjects squinting – move around until you find the perfect balance. Don’t be afraid to use your flash outdoors, particularly if it’s an overcast day – using your flash properly outdoors can really bring out the features and details of your subject. Use natural sunlight to cast interesting and complementary shadows.

3. Take Natural Shots

Don’t get your subjects to “pose” for every picture. The best photos are those that capture genuine moments of action and emotion. A mother and daughter sharing a special moment or a couple laughing together when they don’t know they’re being photographed is a far more powerful image than if they were just smiling at the camera.

4. Be part of the action

The best way to get those awesome natural shots is to immerse yourself in the action and then snap away. If the kids are building a sandcastle, join them; become part of the activity and watch them closely. When the moment is right, start capturing the enjoyment! If your kid is riding his new bike for the first time, stand a distance away and capture the smile as he zooms past you.

5. Make your shots more interesting

Instead of just standing a few metres away from your posing subjects, try crouching down, or standing on chair or lying down and getting the group to stand in a circle above you. Instead of getting them to say “cheese”, get them all to jump up and down or stick their tongues out or cross their arms a certain way or do something relevant to the occasion. Try different angles, heights, settings and lighting options!

6. Keep the background plain

Try to get your subjects against a plain background – this automatically makes for a better picture. When you want to take a posed photo, look around for the best possible background – something plain but interesting – for instance a textured or brightly painted wall. Try to ensure there is nothing in the background that will distract from the focus of the image.

7. Keep it off-centre

Another simple trick for taking better shots, is to keep your subject or focus off-centre. A boat on the ocean for instance – don’t just centre it and then snap away. See what happens if you place the boat to the left or right… Is there something on the other side that provides and interesting contrast? When taking a photo of a person or group against a wall, create depth by placing them off-centre so that the eye is “drawn” to them by the negative space.

8. Look for a “story”

When you’re out and about, sit and watch people – try to imagine what the story is behind the action that you’re witnessing. Two old men playing chess for instance – they will experience a range of emotions as the game unfolds – watch them and try to capture the most meaningful moments.

9. Always be ready

Make sure you have your camera with you all the time – you just never know when something memorable might happen. Once you get into the habit of having your camera with you, you won’t be able to leave home without it.