6 Tips for Taking Better Photos

February 24, 2015

Just last week I won a British Airway’s Photo Contest and was selected by a famous photographer, Massimo Vitali. I never used to consider myself a photographer, but once I started sharing more photos and receiving positive feedback it was apparent that I had a decent eye for photography. Don’t get me wrong I am still no professional and have a lot to learn! But for people just starting out I think I can share some easy tips to make your pictures turn out A LOT better! Running my travel website, I have put a lot more time into my photos and attempted to raise the bar on what I consider a good photo. This article will explain in detail 6 Tips for Taking Better Photos!

Yeliu Taiwan Taipei(My winning photo from the BA contest: Yehliu, Taiwan)

#1 Select the right camera for YOU!

Picking a camera is hard. There are so many models to choose from that it can get quite confusing. The marketing for photography has sort of warped our perspective on choosing a camera.The average consumer will normally just pick a camera with high pixels and zoom. These numbers can get confusing, but the high pixel count doesn’t mean that the camera is better in every case. The first thing I recommend is deciding what you want to do with your photos.

Social Media: If you photos will mainly go on Facebook or other social media then your iPhone or cellphone will most likely do that perfectly fine. If you are looking to get larger prints of your photos, then I would suggest a point and shoot or DSLR. 

Extreme: If you’re going to be doing any extreme sports or just want t a good rugged camera then the GoPro might be a great choice for you. They make a ton of accessories that make taking pictures on the go a breeze. The GoPros is not great in low light situations and doesn’t have a flash…so beware.

Blog, Travel Site, etc: For my travel site I use a Sony Cybershot DSC-WX350 point and shoot, this is because I would never really want to lug around anything larger. The camera I use currently is around $300 and takes great stills, HD video and has some great manual settings. It is perfect for me since I upload a lot of full definition photos to my website. If I ever want to get prints, the photos look pretty good to an extent. 

Sony Cybershot dsc-wx350

Large Prints and professional grade: If you are a professional photographer or camera enthusiasts, then you probably need a DSLR or other entry level pro camera. The DSLR cameras are normally quite large and require interchangeable lenses which can be very pricey. Some examples of when a DSLR is needed: printing high quality large images, capturing far away images, taking photos in low or flashing light, and taking shots with a moving subject, like sporting events.

DSLR camera

*Remember it isn’t the camera that takes good photos, it is the person! Just because a chef has expensive pots & pans doesn’t mean they are going to make great food!

#2 Use a Tripod

Best tripod

I never carry around a trip-pod, but this is probably one of the most important tips for getting good photos no matter what camera you have. Stability is vital for good looking images and even though I don’t normally use a tri-pod I find a way to create one with my surroundings. There are always a ledge or some objects you can use to stabilize your camera and get good shots. Setting a camera on a tripod and using a time or remote will guarantee clear photos.

*TIP: Always hold your phone or camera horizontal when taking video to prevent those annoying black boxes. Also, if you’re using your iPhone to take photos…the headphone’s volume rocker can be used as a remote to take pictures.

#3 Rule of Thirds

rule of thirds

If your camera has the option, turn your Grid On! This is the grid that displays 6 boxes or grids on the viewfinder. The rule of thirds is applied by aligning a subject with the guide lines and their intersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allowing linear features in the image to flow from section to section. Basically you put the subject in 1/3 of the grid instead of centering it. This makes some images look a lot more professional! The grid also helps make sure your photos are not crooked.

#4 Lighting

Avoiding the sun is sometimes impossible, but you can try and position yourself and the subject in better lighting. You never really want the sun directly behind the subject. Some beginner cameras have a setting for shooting in bright or dim situations. Remember though, sometimes the flash can be your worst enemy or best friend depending on the scenario. Attempt to try different modes and angles to see what works best. If your camera has a manual mode then you can adjust the camera’s ISO and other settings dependent on the situation.

#5 Perspective

Prague old town square Flowers (Prague, Czech Republic)

This is the most important part of taking unique and good photos. Gaining a different perspective while your traveling will make your pictures a lot more memorable. It is hard, but developing a “good eye for photography” is one of the most important parts of photography. Sometimes you will see 100’s of people taking the same photos at popular destinations and of course you can follow the pack or try and gain a different perspective.

Kupari Croatia Dubrovnik Abandoned (Climbed through an eerie, bombed out abandoned building to get a different perspective; Kupari, Croatia)

#6 Editing

Saint Pauls black and red London Cathedral BW

Unfortunately taking a good photo is only half the battle. Think of it like this: A good photo is the foundation to constructing a building. Once you have the foundation set, you need to work on perfecting the aesthetics  (adjust the brightness, contrast, temperature, sharpness, cropping etc). There are many options like: Photoshop, iPhoto, and many others (some free and some paid) are necessary to fine tune pictures! Remember it might take a few minutes to take a great photo, but sometime it takes hours and hours to edit a photo.

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