Basics Of Taking A Good Photo

By | 25/11/2022

Whenever I think of a useful photography tip, I always write information technology downwards for later. Most of them are forgettable, only some are so helpful that I endeavor to tell them to as many photographers as possible. This article contains 21 of the best. These seize with teeth-sized photography tips are easy to understand, covering everything from beginner camera technique to creativity and limerick. If you’re learning photography, these should be particularly helpful for yous along the fashion.

I’ve as well made a video with a separate listing of tips if you’re more of a visual learner. It has some more than “advanced” tips (mainly some bottom-known photography techniques I like to utilise) that are unlike from the tips in the rest of this article. Y’all can sentry it here:

Now allow’s take a look at my favorite photography tips for beginners.

Work with Your Limerick

To take engaging photos,
need to exist engaged with what you’re doing. Don’t just fly by on autopilot. Instead, put thought into your composition and try to make your photos every bit good as possible.

That starts with knowing the basics of how to compose practiced photos. Don’t cut off important parts of your subject with the edge of your frame. Go along your horizons level, and endeavor to eliminate any distractions in your photo past adjusting your composition. Encounter if your photograph has a sense of balance and simplicity.

If the photo doesn’t expect good on your first endeavor, keep experimenting until you lot go information technology right. It is and then easy to depress the shutter when something looks good and then stop, but if y’all consider a few alternative compositions, chances are one of them will be better than the first.

Use the Photographic camera You Already Take

Camera gear is not all that of import.

There are countless cameras, lenses, and other accessories on the market today. We spend a lot of time reviewing them at Photography Life, and it’s truthful that some are better than others (or amend suited for a given task). Just in one case you’ve tested plenty of them, the real takeaway is that pretty much everything today is splendid. The differences are nigh always minor, specially at a given cost.

So, use the camera you already have, and don’t look dorsum. In almost every way, today’s entry-level mirrorless cameras are better than the top-of-the-line movie SLRs or fifty-fifty the DSLRs of ten years ago. Still, somehow those motion picture photographers managed to capture beautiful, iconic photos that even so look great today.

Much more important are your creative skills and noesis of camera settings. Focus your effort on those, not on collecting camera equipment.

Nikon Z50 Sample Image #31
Taken with the Nikon Z50, an entry-level mirrorless camera

Learn Which Settings Affair

There are a lot of camera settings, and information technology takes some do to get them right, particularly as a beginner. Even advanced photographers won’t always practise everything perfectly. Merely it’s worth learning how to set your camera properly, and which camera settings thing the most, and so you have the best chance to have the photos you want.

Start, try practicing with camera modes other than full Auto. You lot won’t learn anything if your photographic camera is making all the decisions for you. It might exist confusing at first, just hopefully our manufactures on discontinuity, shutter speed, and ISO will give y’all a proficient head offset. Those are the three most important settings in all of photography.

Bated from aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, learn how to focus properly by practicing with the different autofocus modes. You’ll probably prefer single-servo autofocus (also known equally One-Shot AF) for stationary subjects, and continuous-servo autofocus (also known as AI Servo) for moving subjects. Don’t use manual focus unless it’s and then dark that autofocus isn’t working.

Lastly, shoot in Raw if you desire to edit your photos, or think in that location’south any chance y’all’ll edit them in the future. JPEGs await good out of photographic camera, just the files have much less latitude for post-processing. (If you lot aren’t sure, shoot RAW+JPEG, and keep the RAWs for subsequently simply in example.) Encounter RAW vs JPEG for more.

Sample photo from Nikon Z7
To capture photos like this, it helps to have an intimate understanding of photographic camera settings. Two-exposure blend.

Don’t Overexpose Highlights

When you lot are picking your camera settings, it is disquisitional to avoid overexposing highlights in a photo. The reason? It’s simply incommunicable to recover any detail from white areas of a photograph. Personally, I adopt the sky in my photos to have nice texture and color, rather than beingness just a big, featureless blob, and I bet you practice as well.

Information technology’s pretty easy to keep your highlights intact. But this is where shutter speed, aperture, and ISO are so of import. These are the
photographic camera settings that directly affect the brightness of a photo (ignoring flash settings, of course). Even exposure compensation – an important setting itself – just tells your camera to alter one or more of these three variables.

When you’re taking photos, scout the camera screen to run into if there is whatsoever overexposure. If there is, the starting time thing you should do is lower your ISO to its base of operations value (ordinarily ISO 100). If it’s already there, utilize a faster shutter speed. That volition have intendance of the consequence. As for aperture, make sure it isn’t set to a crazy value (f/32, f/45, etc.) and you’ll be good.

If your camera is mirrorless and has a histogram or zebras, enable them. These tools allow y’all to check your exposure and more than easily get a properly-exposed photograph.

Clouds and fog in the morning Nikon Z9 Review
NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-five.6 VR Due south @ 300mm, ISO 64, 1/2000, f/6.three

Pay Attending to the Light

Probably the unmarried about important role of photography is light. If you take a photo with good light, you’ve taken a huge step toward getting a good picture. But what counts as good light? It’s non all about sunsets.

Oft, the goal here is to rest the light’s intensity between your subject and background. Even if yous’re photographing an astonishing sunset, the photo could exist ruined by a completely night and silhouetted foreground.

The easiest fashion to solve this is to pay attending to the direction and softness of the lite. If the low-cal is besides harsh, you could get bad shadows going across your subject, which is specially a trouble for portrait photography. If the light is coming from an unflattering angle, see what you lot tin can do to motility the light source (in a studio) or movement the subject (outdoors) – or wait until the light is better (mural photography).

Too, if y’all’re taking handheld pictures, make certain in that location is
light. If not, utilize a flash or move where it’s brighter. The easiest way to get bland, discolored photos is to shoot in environments without plenty calorie-free.

Take Your Time

It’s like shooting fish in a barrel to brand mistakes in photography if you aren’t careful. The all-time way around this is to slow down and accept your time whenever possible, particularly when yous are first beginning to larn photography.

Beginning, double-check your camera settings. If you’re shooting outdoor portraits on a sunny day, only you lot’re using last night’south settings for photographing the Milky way, something is terribly wrong. Irksome downwards and have the time to go it right.

So, continue the same mindset for every other important conclusion. Is your composition as good as possible? Did you autofocus in the right place? Take you done everything possible to amend the lighting conditions?

And don’t listen to people who tell you to avert reviewing photos in the field. Sure, it’s a bad thought to review photos when something astonishing is happening in front of you, but you lot’ll almost ever have some downtime between shots. Effigy out the bug with an paradigm in the field – not back at your computer.

Old Woods
NIKON D7000 + 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 17mm, ISO 100, 0.six seconds, f/8.0

Move Your Feet

It’due south easy to go stuck in i place while you’re taking pictures. Don’t fall into that trap. Instead, motion your feet (or your tripod) every bit much as possible. Climb on top of things, change the summit of your camera, walk forward and backward, practise any you need to exercise – but keep moving.

If you lot have a dozen photos from the aforementioned height, facing the same direction, without moving your feet or tripod at all, guess what? They won’t exist very dissimilar. If your
unabridged portfolio
is taken from the same height and without whatever experimentation, you’re missing out on some slap-up photos.

Moving around is the only way to modify the relative sizes and positions of the objects in your photo. Don’t like that your subject is too big and the landscape in the background is too small? Stand back and zoom in. Desire to ready a stone that looks distracting? Move around until it’s out of your composition, or too pocket-sized to be a nuisance.

For wild fauna photography, pay very close attending to the angle and top of your shot. Animals commonly wait better when yous are at center level with them, and it also tends to requite backgrounds that are farther away, giving more subject isolation.

Know When to Utilize a Tripod

Tripods are one of the greatest inventions in photography. They all but eliminate one of the trickiest problems there is – a lack of low-cal. With tripods, you lot tin can shoot multi-minute exposures and capture details and so dark that they are invisible to the human being eye. Even in a brighter scene, tripods ameliorate the stability of your composition and assist you lot take sharper photos.

So, when should you utilize a tripod? If your field of study is stationary, well-nigh always. That ways landscape photographers, architectural photographers, and still life photographers meliorate have a good alibi if they aren’t using a tripod.

Macro photography is another instance where tripods are essential. At high magnifications, even the first-class in-body epitome stabilization (IBIS) of today’due south cameras cannot compensate for the very low light and long shutter speeds required for truly first-class macro work. Even if you are using flash, it is very hard to get the plane of focus right. The only solution is a tripod.

Consequence photography and activity are a bit different because information technology’s true that a tripod can irksome you downwardly. The same is true of travel photography; as much as you may desire to bring along a tripod, it might non be worth the hassle.

That’s off-white, only know that you’re missing out whenever yous leave your tripod at abode. If yous offered me the option between an entry-level DSLR and a tripod versus the all-time camera/lens combo on the marketplace without one, I’d pick the tripod kit every fourth dimension.

Know When to Use a Flash

Flashes aren’t merely meant for dark environments.

Don’t become me wrong – they’re great if y’all need some actress light. Get an external wink, tilt it at the ceiling, and use a relatively long lens (50mm or longer). Everyone you know will exist amazed at the quality of your event photos. It’south the easiest way to get good results without really knowing what y’all’re doing.

But flashes are useful outdoors, too, even in the center of the twenty-four hours. If yous’ve e’er heard of “fill flash,” this is why it’s and so important. Yous can fill in ugly shadows on your field of study just by using a gentle flash – and most people looking at the photo won’t fifty-fifty exist able to tell.

It’s light-headed, but I like to tell people that their camera’s born flash is more than useful on a brilliant, sunny twenty-four hours than in the nighttime. That advice holds just as true here.

Example of an image where flash is used
Taken with flash, prototype by Lola Mansurov

Clean Your Camera Lens

I’ve seen too many people walking effectually with the front end element of their camera lens dirty, dusty, and smudged. That’s the easiest mode to get blurry photos 100% of the fourth dimension.

Of course, a little bit of dust won’t do any harm; it won’t fifty-fifty be visible in an image. In that location are pocket-sized particles of dust
every lens, which are incommunicable to clean without taking apart the lens – and they have no impact on a photo whatever.

Instead, I’m talking about lenses that accept never been cleaned, with grime and fingerprints that haven’t been removed in ages. Practice yourself a favor and get a microfiber cloth and lens cleaning solution. Bring them along on trips and apply them at to the lowest degree once a week. Check out How to Clean SLR Camera Lenses for more than data.

Dirty Front Element

Don’t Utilise a Inexpensive Filter

The second easiest way to become blurry photos 100% of the time is to use a cheap filter on the forepart of your lens.

Personally, when I only started out in photography, my grandfather gave me an old, clear filter from his film camera. Information technology fit my lens perfectly; I was so surprised that I kept it on my lens all the fourth dimension, never worrying if the glass was up to today’s standards or not. Turns out that it wasn’t. The corners of all my photos were blurry, and any mild brilliant area in the photo (like the heaven or a lamp at night) turned into wicked flare. Hither’s a photo I took with this filter, followed by a crop:

But, when you look at only a minimal crop, the blurriness is easy to see:

Crop from unsharp photo

Don’t brand the same mistake I did! Yeah, this was an former filter, but cheap ones today practise exactly the same thing. Personally, I
use a articulate, protective filter on my lens anymore, except in environments where I too need protective eyewear. If you do need to use a filter, make sure information technology’s a good ane from a proper name brand like B+W, and non the first on the depression-to-high toll list on Amazon.

Larn Bones Post-Processing

Postal service-processing isn’t very high on the typical photographer’s priority list, but it definitely should be. Although postprocessing cannot fix a bad photo, it can turn a adept photo can turn into something truly exceptional.

It’due south easy to overdo information technology when you’re post-processing, so the most of import matter is to brand sure none of your edits are permanent (AKA “subversive editing”). Either use the Salve As command to preserve your original files or, better nonetheless, edit in software like Adobe Lightroom or Capture One Pro that stores your edits in a dissever file rather than baking them into the image.

Post-processing is nearly imparting a mood and guiding your viewer’s eye in an image. You’ll get meliorate and better at this over time. My top recommendation?
Be subtle. You don’t want your photos to look over-candy.

Back Up Your Photos

Almost every lensman I know has lost some of import photos at least once in their life. Don’t let this happen to you lot.

For starters, proceed a backup of every unmarried one of your photos. Your photos should never be stored on only a single difficult bulldoze at a time, because somewhen your hard bulldoze
break. Information technology’due south not a question of if, but when.

Ideally, you would have at least
copies of all your photos at a given time. This should include at least 2 different media types, such as an internal hard bulldoze and a removable storage medium. And at least one of the backups should be stored off-site. This is known as the 3-2-1 rule. It’s the best way to avoid losing any of your photos.

Personally, my photos are my most important possessions, and I don’t want to lose them no matter what. My difficult bulldoze is backed up online in real-time, and I have several external hard drives with complete backups equally well. It’s overkill, just that’south the signal.

Samsung SSD Drive
An external SSD hard drive

Become Organized

Whether you’re an organized or messy person, it’s very important that your photos are easy to find. It’s not just about speeding upward your workflow; if y’all don’t recall how you’ve organized your hard drive, you might stop up deleting a folder that contains important images without realizing it.

My method is simply to create a new binder of images for every year, then split up each year by months (labeled “01 Jan,” “02 February,” and so on, for alphabetical order). Then in my post-processing software, I sort and organize the photos separately into different collections. This manner, I can find images
a given location or
intended for
a particular projection.

Another very useful method is tagging. You can tag your photos in nearly postprocessing programs with many tags, similar the name of the people in your photo or the species of animal (if you’re a wild animals photographer). This makes it even easier to find a photo once you’ve taken tens of thousands.

But in that location are many possible methods. Some photographers prefer to organize their photos by twelvemonth, so divide each twelvemonth by specific events rather than months. The exact method doesn’t thing; use what you’re comfortable with. But brand sure that you start skilful habits early, or yous’ll eventually run into a lot of bug.

Organizing Photos Beginner Tip
Organizing photos in Lightroom

Effort Something New

The more you experiment with photography, the more than interesting it becomes. Information technology’south easy to fall into a routine and take similar photos over and over, and at that place’s zero incorrect with that, but it’s also important to endeavour something new as oft as possible.

Give macro photography a shot, or test some new lighting techniques. Branch out to a different postal service-processing way. Be spontaneous and drive to a location yous’ve never photographed before. There are and so many ways to try something new in photography, and yous won’t regret it if you practice.

Usually, you’ll find something – either a new technique or a personal preference – that you tin bring back to your regular photography for good results.

Drone Shot
Nikon Coolpix A, ISO 360, 1/1000, f/2.8. Taken from a bootleg drone.

Meet Other Photographers

Meeting other photographers is i of the all-time means to keep learning and improving, either for inspiration or for advice.

You’d exist surprised how much people enjoy sharing their tips and techniques with other photographers. You’ll rarely encounter secrecy or disdain; even the corking Ansel Adams wrote several books explaining his photographic techniques.

If you’re the type of person who prefers self-guided learning in photography, this still applies. Ask questions on online forums, email photographers whose work you admire, and otherwise salve resources you find valuable. No thing what, don’t stop learning. There’south always more to learn.

Why take landscape photos example
NIKON D800E + lxx-200mm f/4 @ 120mm, ISO 100, 1/2, f/11.0

Fix Your Weak Points

If you’re nevertheless trying to wrap your head around shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, it tin exist tempting to revert back to Car fashion rather than practicing what you don’t empathize. That’southward a huge mistake!

If y’all’re trying to larn portrait photography, but you lot’re having a hard time getting light from your flash to look good, information technology can exist tempting to take all your indoor pictures side by side to a window for nice light. That’southward also a huge mistake!

If you’re trying to learn post-processing, but your software is confusing, information technology can be tempting to shoot all your pictures in JPEG to get something proficient out of the photographic camera. But – you lot guessed it – that’s another huge fault!

Don’t piece of work effectually your weak points.
Fix them. The best way to improve your photos is to analyze what you don’t yet understand, and so spend the necessary fourth dimension to learn it. This applies nigh of all to beginner photographers, who naturally take the most to learn, but even experts would do well to follow this communication.

Iceland Landscape in Rain
NIKON D800E + seventy-200mm f/4 @ 160mm, ISO 100, i/fifteen, f/7.ane

Await at Your Old Photos

I’ve noticed that a lot of photographers take a trend to take photos, pick out the best ones from a shoot, so rarely or never return to the others. Just there are many reasons why your old, unused photos are some of the near valuable in your portfolio.

First, they help you lot gear up your weak points. Simply ask yourself, on average, why are your bad photos bad? Possibly you tend to focus incorrectly, expose besides dark or vivid, compose awkwardly, and and so on. All of that is very useful information since it helps you improve the problem next time.

Some old photos may have had technical difficulties like too much noise that was hard to fix when you were shooting. But software has gotten meliorate and may exist able to add some new life to such seemingly hopeless shots!

On top of that, you lot might find an old photo that truly
– however somehow you didn’t detect it the first fourth dimension. This happens to me from fourth dimension to time, and it feels similar striking gilt.

I overlooked this photo the first time effectually, only I found information technology when revisiting my archive.

Be More Selective

When you are choosing photos from a shoot to show other people or add to your portfolio, exist more selective! This ways that if you were planning to show x of your shots, show 5. If you lot were planning to testify five, testify 3 instead.

The process of existence selective will force you to focus on every strength and weakness of your photos and additionally, make your work look better besides because you lot are only showing the all-time of the best. In deciding between two very good photos, you will have to spend a long fourth dimension understanding why i has a stronger composition than another.

Nikon Z7 II Image Samples #40
NIKON Z 7 Two + NIKKOR Z fourteen-24mm f/2.viii S @ 24mm, ISO 64, ii.five seconds, f/11.0 © Nasim Mansurov

Have Fun

Photography is supposed to be fun. Even professional photographers chose this career, almost without exception, considering they savor photography. Don’t let that spark dice out.

Some of this is down to trying something new, as mentioned before – and also continuing to learn new skills. Only information technology’s also about not taking photography too seriously, or getting caught upwardly in camera equipment at the expense of photography itself.

I see a lot of people online become into heated debates about their choice of camera make, or a practiced/bad/opinionated review they come across from someone else on the internet. Who cares? All of this is contributing to exactly what yous’re trying to avert – making photography but another annoyance in your life, not a source of happiness or joy.

Instead, think about why you like taking pictures. It’south meaningful; it’southward a way to see amazing sights and meet brilliant, creative people. No surprise, the best photographers I know are always the ones who have the almost fun with information technology.

The Joy of Photography
The joy of photography

Shoot a Lot and Experiment!

Practice, practice, exercise. It’s a tip that will get y’all alee in whatsoever skill, not but photography.

Cameras are complicated. Then is post-processing software, and so is (maybe
specially) the artistic side of photography.

The more you experiment, and the more photos you accept, the meliorate your photos will be. It’s non just about the quality, either – information technology’southward also near quantity. Y’all’ll notice that later trips and photoshoots nigh ever have more winners than your early attempts.

That’due south non to say your early photos are always going to be bad. The famous Henri Cartier-Bresson quote, “Your get-go ten,000 photographs are your worst,” is a bit overdramatic. Just I accept to admit that at that place’southward some truth to it. You can accept smashing photos when you’re starting out, just it requires some luck, and y’all’ll continue getting better as you take more pictures.

In brusque, the more than fourth dimension you spend on photography, the easier it will be to take the photos y’all have in mind. That’southward the finish goal in all of this – translating the image in your head, and the emotions you experience, into a photograph that makes other people feel the same affair.