Learn Photography: 10 Tips For Taking Pictures Like A Professional

Added by Edan Barak in How to (photography, picture taking, photos) on May 26, 2014
Professional photographer

You don't have to be a professional photographer to take great pictures. In photography, as in life, it's the little things that matter. There are many small tricks you can use to immediately improve your photos, and when you combine them the results will make your pictures stand out and have your family and friends begging you for copies.

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Use a plain background that is not busy but not necessarily something indoors

A plain background could be a stand of trees behind your subject, a building or something else that draws the eye to your subject and enhances the picture. Don't forget to study the background as you set up the picture. You don't want anything in the picture that could make it look unusual or unnatural, such as cars in the background seemingly dangling from your subject's ears.


Move closer to your subject

A good rule of thumb is to consider the size of your subject and step closer to them if they are smaller than a car. You want to fill the picture with your subject and by moving closer or zooming in on them, you can capture unique things about them.

Make sure you don't get any closer than what your camera can truly capture; about three feet. Otherwise, your pictures could turn out fuzzy.


Don't be afraid to move the subject of your picture out of the middle

Play with different angles and locations of your subject by moving them from the middle of the picture. If your camera has a middle lock focus feature, where it focuses on the middle spot in the picture, turn it off so that you can focus on your subject no matter where you place them in the picture.


Lock the focus of your camera on your subject and not on something else

This will require you turning off the auto-focus feature on your camera. Whenever you take a picture of someone or something that is not in the center of the photo, locking the focus will force the camera to blur the background and not the subject.


Understand the range of your flash

If you are taking a picture out of the range of the flash, it will not lighten the picture properly and your picture will be dark. If you are too close, the subject could be whitewashed. A good rule of thumb is to be about 10 feet from your subject if you cannot find out the range of your flash in the manual.


Don't be afraid to play with your lighting

Lighting is the most important aspect of taking a picture. To truly understand how light affects things, experiment with your pictures and keep a journal of your experiments. That way you can repeat certain pictures that you like because you know exactly how you took them and what type of light you used.


Occasionally turn your camera sideways to take a vertical picture

Pictures of things like lighthouses and other tall structures are best taken when you take them vertically. Turn your camera on its side and snap the picture.


Be a director

No one says you have to take a picture of a group of people or a subject where they stand side-by-side or hands folded neatly in front of them. Tell them to group up and lean towards the camera. Give them props to hold. Sit them on a fence. Direct them to do what you want them to so that you get the picture that has impact.


Use light and color contrasts to make your pictures more striking

Good contrast in a picture can mean the difference between boring and flat, to interesting and eye-catching. You can use contrasts between light and shadow or colors from different sides of the color spectrum to bring focus to the subject of your photo.

Experiment with taking the photo from different angles, or train your eye to find striking colors around where you're planning your photo. At night you can get great contrasts between light and dark, especially if you're able to play with the lighting.


Don't be afraid to use your flash for outdoor pictures

Unless the sun is directly on your subject's face, you are going to have facial shadows that could ruin the picture. Make sure you turn on your flash and use the proper mode so that the shadows disappear.

You should be able to adjust your flash and if you are using a digital camera, you'll be able to see whether or not the flash is too much or just right. Check to see if your camera has a flash-fill mode. This is the best flash to use when the subject is close up on sunny or on overcast days when you need just a bit more light. Don't be afraid to experiment.

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