So, you got a new camera for Mother’s Day, huh?! Lucky you! Or maybe you finally got your friend’s hand-me-down point and shoot. Or you’re just an Instagramming fool, taking tons of shots with your phone or other mobile device. Well, you don’t need to be a professional photographer to take beautiful photos, and you certainly don’t need the most expensive camera on the market. With a few easy tips and tricks, your photos will look awesome, regardless of your professional status or equipment.
1. Find the Light - I think this is the most important rule of thumb when it comes to any kind of photography. Light will make or break your image, and natural light is the way to go. Look for interesting shadows or backlighting that is a bit different from the norm. If you’re taking portraits of people, make sure not to have them in direct sunlight. Find a shaded spot or head out on a cloudy day instead. In terms of shooting time, first thing in the morning and right before sunset is when the natural light is at it’s best, so if you can work around that schedule, do it.
2. The Rule of Thirds – This is a basic photographic principle that’s pretty simple for even a novice to use. In it’s most simple form, the rule of thirds says that the frame of the photo can be broken down in to a grid with 9 parts and if you place the subject of your image on those grid lines it will be more interesting to the eye. For nerds like me, it means, simply, don’t center your subject. Crop at an angle that is a bit different and that can take your photo to another level.
3. Learn Your Camera - When I got my first digital SLR camera, I spent the first two months reading the manual cover to cover. It sounds tedious, but that was the best thing I could’ve done. Every camera is different and if you don’t understand what the buttons mean than you’re never going to get the most out of it.
4. Find Tutorials Online - The Internet is a magical place, isn’t it? It’s full of experts who will help you with pretty much anything, and that extends to photographers! Some of my favorite photography tutorials are on the Pioneer Woman’s site, where she goes through everything from exposure to aperture to focus to Photoshop with easy to follow images. If you’re looking for great photography apps, I’ve done a few round ups of those right here and here that will really help you out if your a smartphone photographer.
5. Have Fun! – I know, that’s annoying advice, but it’s true! Keep trying different things until you find what works for you. Get out and shoot whenever you can and eventually you will find yourself with images that will blow your mind. Happy snapping!
(All photos in this post, other than the first one (by Christina Gepner), were taken by me with the iPhone 4S, proof you don’t need a $3,000 camera to get some fantastic results!)