Do you want to take better photos with your phone? Not long ago I wrote an article titled Everyone’s a Photographer But Not Everyone’s a Good One. In that article I recognized that most people today carry a cell phone with a built in camera. At any moment the phones come out and people snap a photo.
But there’s a problem. Many photos appearing on Facebook are challenging to look at. This isn’t because the camera is lacking, but the operator ignores three proven ways to take better photos. These three ways will work for any type of camera.
Here’s three proven ways to take better photos:
1. Keep the horizon level.
This ought to be obvious but I see many photos where the horizon isn’t level. I know. Some people do it on purpose for artistic reasons. I get it. But this ought to be the rare exception.
Have you ever looked at a nice landscape photo and felt something wasn’t quite right? Chances are the horizon tilted. It doesn’t take much for the eye to pick it up. Your brain is like a gyroscope, demanding a straight horizon.
When you prepare to shoot the photo, take a moment and make sure the horizon is straight. And if it isn’t perfect, you can fix it later in any simple photo editing software.
2. Double check the background.
The next time you are on Facebook take a moment and notice photo backgrounds. Of course, there are the notorious photo bombers which crack us up! But how many times have you seen a great photo with a pole growing out the top of the subject’s head?
Failing to double check the background can ruin your photo. Backgrounds often distract the viewer from the main subject. A background can turn a serious photo into a laughable one. A background can either enhance the photo’s story or confuse it.
If you notice the background is a problem, there are easy ways to fix it. Firstly, wait until the photo bomber or person gets out of the way. Secondly, you can change the background by moving left or right or up or down. Thirdly, you can often move your subject. These quick fixes will pay off in better photos.
3. Pay attention to the light.
There are entire courses on lighting for photographers. Let’s keep it simple by focusing on the direction of the light.
Too many people point and shoot into the sun which makes the subject dark. Seasoned photographers can leverage this into a fantastic photo. But for most it presents challenges. As a general rule I’d avoid shooting in this direction.
A better choice is to shoot with the light behind you. If possible, place your subject facing the light. Sometimes the sun will be so harsh a good photo isn’t possible. In those cases it’s best to shoot in the morning or early evening.
You can also choose to photograph with the sun to your left or right. This is a good option when you want to add texture to your photos. Texture is a result of shadows and can enhance an otherwise dull photo.
I learned these lessons the hard way. I’ve messed up a ton of photos by ignoring these three simple ways to instantly take better photos. My hope is that your photography will now improve.
Bonus Thought: it’s important to understand and apply the rules of composition. These rules are key concepts to producing great photos. This subject is so important that I’ll devote another article to it.
Which of these three do you find most helpful?