David Papp Blog

12 Photography Tips To Taking Better Shots

Taking some pictures with the latest smartphones and still not getting the results you’re looking for? Regardless of the camera you’re using to take the shot, it’s worth noting that all the best shots occur before you even press the shutter button.

Furthermore, it’s rare for photographers to take the finished result in-camera. There is editing and post-processing images to ensure they look their best.

It can take some time for you to get used to a new camera or how you want your smartphone camera to work. However, these tips can help you in taking better shots .

1. Consider Composition

Note the rules of composition any time you’re looking for better shots. These have helped photographers for years and they still work. When taking taller or wider shots, remember the rule of thirds. Be sure to turn on the grid overlay on your screen and line up points of interests where the lines cross.

2. Zoom By Stepping Closer

While there is no problem using the zoom function on your camera, there is something to be said about using your own two feet to get closer. You want to keep this in mind with smartphones as zooming functionalities for smartphones means stretching the picture.

Stepping closer can help you in getting better perspectives and make a photo more interesting in the process.

3. Focus on the Subject

Keep the end result in mind when taking the shot. If you’re going to be cropping the photo into a square or vertical post for Instagram, you’ll want the subject to be in the center and have a frame that doesn’t have a lot of clutter.

When taking landscaping shots think less about cantering the subject and more on balancing elements of interest in the foreground, midground, and background.

4. Make Shots Simple

Always note what’s in the background of your frame. Something distracting in the back can pull people’s attention from the subject and ruin the whole image. Double check to ensure there isn’t a bin, a signpost or other people wandering into the shot.

In other cases you want things to be lighting your subject or have a busier background to convey moods. Those are fine. Just be sure that those are intentional.

5. Straighten the Lines

There are many landscaping and sunset shots that end up looking terrible due to the horizon not being horizontal. You’ve probably seen plenty of shots with tilted skylines or landscapes like this and they just feel so off – even if these were intentional ones.

You can avoid all of this by applying the ‘rule of thirds’ once more to line up the background straight. Even if you’re a little off, you can always edit it later.

6. Get the Best Lighting

Lighting is another aspect that can make or break shots. Photographers always talk about shots during the ‘magic hour’ or ‘golden hour’ – when the sun is rising or setting – but even taking shots during those times doesn’t guarantee a great shot.

If you have less control over lighting, position yourself where the light source is behind you and still lighting the subject

7. Turn Off Flash

A simple fix but not always an obvious one. Flash is meant to brighten up subjects but we often fail to realize how detrimental it can be to images.

Direct light blasted at a face leads to a face that is washed out and can expose blemishes and spots. Natural lighting is kinder to subjects in portraits – particularly in diffused light on cloudy days.

Turning off flash will often help with all of your shots as it tends to ruin portraits but also low-light still life shots.

8. Take a Lot of Photos

Practice is how you improve. If you want better pictures better take more of them and more often. Take shots every day and you’ll gradually become comfortable with your shots and your own kit.

Of course, a lot of the shots aren’t going to be that good but the key is to be learning rather than taking the most spectacular shots every single time.

9. Slow Down

It doesn’t take much time but try to prepare a little before taking the shot. Run a quick checklist in your head:

  • Does the subject stand out?
  • Have you noted composition and where the lighting is?
  • How do you want the image exposed?
  • Are there are distractions in the frame?
  • Is the horizon straight?

The checklist doesn’t need to be too long but thinking before shooting can ensure better shots.

10. Improve Your Editing Skills

Whether you’re on a desktop or a smartphone there are a tonne of editing tool apps to enhance your pictures. Some apps to look at are Lightroom or VSCO (For iOS and Android).

Editing isn’t meant to recreate a whole new picture. Instead focus on small adjustments until you find your style. The goal is to have a consistent look and approach when processing the images.

11. Avoid Long Post-Processing Sessions

Even though editing is a necessary step, it shouldn’t be something you spend a lot of time doing. Even if you’ve been taking shots for years, a good photographer knows it’s better to spend time behind the camera sharpening and improving skills rather than being behind a computer screen.

12. Break the Rules

Once you’ve gotten better at photography keep in mind that you can break these rules. Consider these tips and don’t be afraid to play with them a bit and get creative. Photography is about finding your own original style and you can’t find that by sticking to the rules all the time.