What a world we live in! I remember when we used to take pictures, store the roll of film, get them developed, and only then would we discover what a terrible photographer we are... And what terrible subjects we shoot! Aunt Mabel's eyes are half closed, our thumb is in the way, and grandpa isn't in the shot but the crazy neighbor bill can be seen watering his lawn in the background.
Today, thanks to high-tech cameras and software, we can eliminate bad pictures on the spot and later we can adjust some of those red-eye issues.
But even those adjustments can't make us great photographers. We may still end up with pictures of people who are half-smiling or pictures that don't seem to be quite as attractive as what other people are taking. Here are a few quick fixes to help you take great pictures.
1. Don't center your subject.
Many people take pictures with the subject of the picture perfectly centered. However, this is not a standard practice of professional photographers or painters. Instead, place your center of attention – whether it's someone's face or a nice building or a beautiful sunset – with the center of attention just off center: When looking through your camera, imagine your field of vision divided into quarters. Now imagine that each of those quarters its own center. Place your center of interest somewhere near the center of one of your quarters.
2. Help your subjects know when to smile.
Many amateur photographers tell their subjects to say "cheese" and then they just click. The word "cheese" is supposed to create a smile-shape in the mouth but the photographer can still catch people mid-blink or in the middle of scratching an itch. Instead, count your subjects down so you say "3-2-1… cheese". That way, they have time to get their blinks and scratches out of the way.
3. Eye-level isn't always the most interesting.
Whether you're taking group shots or tourist-pictures of landmarks, it's common to just snap pictures at your eye-height. Every picture comes back from exactly the same perspective… Yours. But if you change it up a little, you can enjoy more interesting pictures. Experiment with close, faraway, shooting from low, shooting from high, and shooting at an angle. You'll get far more visual interest and variety into your pictures.
4. Not everyone has to look at you.
"I want to get a shot of all of us in front of the Grand Canyon". Sure, it's proof that you were all there at once but it's also kind of boring. Everyone has that picture, just like everyone has a picture of their travel companions smiling from the base of the Statue of Liberty and the White House and the Eifel Tower and the Great Wall of China. Instead, why not take a picture of your travel companion doing something. Instead of a full-face shot, take a picture of them looking at the Grand Canyon or leaning against a tree with the Statue of Liberty in the background.
You might not be trying for a Photographer of the Year award, but it doesn't hurt to have pictures that someone wants to look at. Use these quick tips to help you take better pictures today.