Basic photography tips – tips for taking great photos

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Who’s been disappointed with the final results of a ‘great’ photo they’ve taken? Nobody? Ah. Everybody. With digital cameras you do at least get to delete the bad photos immediately, but as a photography student, Morgane mostly still uses good old film rolls and has to undergo the embarrassment of the teacher looking through all the photos and asking why she’s cut everybody’s feet off. Here are a few basic photography tips to bear in mind, whether the images you’re capturing be arty or personal.

Don’t cut pieces off people! This is the voice of experience talking. The human body is a proportioned entity, so keep it that way. Be especially careful with the tops of heads and feet. If you can’t get everything in the picture, take a step back.

Watch the light. Light is fundamental to photography. Use it. A dark situation will make a blurry picture. Use a flash. An external flash gives better lighting than the built-in one on your camera – but try not to aim it directly at people’s faces. That just turns everyone into over-exposed ghosts.

Move. Don’t be afraid to move around your subject. A different point of view creates a different picture. Try a few different positions before taking the picture. Get up close if you feel like it. This is especially true for food photography and fashion photography (plus you may be interested in how to direct models on a photo shoot – even if it’s just for fun in your garden!).

Smile. This isn’t technically a photography tip but people might find you a bit intrusive if you get too close. People often don’t like having their picture taken. Photographing random strangers in the street results in great spontaneous pictures but you might get into a bit of trouble. So put on your best smile when revealing your face from behind your lens and they might let you take an other one. You might also just have to run for it.

Be lighthanded on the zoom. Fixing your lens at a set distance gives you more opportunities to play with depth and focus. It also obliges you to move about more, but it’s worth it when you get that nice blurry background that puts the emphasis on your main subject (and hides that hideous wallpaper).

Don’t try to copy big photographers. Everyone agreed that Friedlander’s nudes were genius because of the strange angles and the deformed shapes he gave to the bodies through his choice of lens. You’re not Lee Friedlander – so even if you make an exact replica of his work it’ll just look like you don’t know how to use your camera properly. It’s unfair, but true.

Be aware of objects lying around. Move anything unnecessary out of your way if you can. Too many things surrounding your subject will only distract the viewer’s eye.

Don’t take pictures of people from below. Unless you’re aiming for a paparazzi-style shot up someone’s skirt, stay at the same level as the person you’re photographing. Nobody wants to see up nostrils.

Express yourself! These tips should help you take a few good pictures but if you want a blurry picture up someone’s nose with a lamp half in front of their face and the top of their head missing then go for it. Photography is an art and nobody can judge the artistic value of a technically bad picture. It’s your mode of expression, so unleash your creativity.

More photography resources on the web

10 product photography tips from professional photographers


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