Taking Photos you Can Share Made-Easy

By: Ben Nystrom


Our digital age has made capturing images easy. An activity that was once reserved for professional painters and photographers is now accessible to millions of shutterbugs, many of whom wonder about how to improve their craft. In order to become a better photographer you must first understand the basic principles that make up a good picture. These few tips deal with design and composition, concepts that would surely be covered in a Photography 101 course.

1. One of the most important things to consider when taking a picture is composition. Composition refers to the way visual elements are combined in a picture. The visual elements that are of importance in photography are color, line, shape, texture, direction, space, size, and perspective. A good picture balances these elements and uses them together to bring the viewer's attention to a single focal point.

2. Lighting is another important aspect of good photography. A well-composed picture can be easily ruined by too much or too little light. Make sure you have a strong, single light source illuminating your subject. Too many light sources can create multiple shadows, confusing the viewer and detracting from the beauty of the subject. If you're shooting outside, make sure it is sunny enough to give your subject enough light. If it's dark or overcast out, you might want to move inside.

3. Another extremely important aspect to consider is your picture's focus. One way to focus the attention on your subject is to eliminate clutter from the picture. Instead of taking a picture of your friend alongside a dozen other things, simply take a picture of your friend alone. Simplifying your pictures will make the remaining subjects really pop. And don't be afraid to take an off-center photo—placing your subject in the corner of the frame can make for a more appealing shot.

4. When taking amateur pictures of friends and relatives, one of the most important things to remember is to have fun. Unless you are purposefully taking a somber portrait, fun and light-hearted pictures will almost always turn out better. One way of creating a fun atmosphere is to incorporate props into the picture. Remember to keep things simple, though. Bringing too many props into a picture can be distracting. Adding a silly item here or there can lighten the mood of your subject and make for a better picture.

5. A setting or background is another important element to consider when taking a portrait. Pick a place where your subject feels comfortable or that adds a dramatic flair to the picture. Natural settings are always a great option, but staging a shoot in someone's home might make for more relaxed poses. Talk with your subject about where he or she would feel most comfortable.

Photography isn't easy, but just because you are a novice doesn't mean you have to settle for sub-par pictures. Follow the simple guidelines above and your pictures will start to look great.

~Ben Nystrom, 2009

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Ben Nystrom is a frequent writer for Photospace. Looking to share your spring break photos with your friends? Check out Photospace, a hot friends photo sharing and social site.

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