Photography is a lot like golf. Both can become passionate loves, take up all your free time, and cause you to continually try to improve and take better photos. Each also has its common set of mistakes. There isn’t a golfer who hasn’t heard, “Keep your eye on the ball and your shoulders down.”
For those photographers out there ready to take a crack at this here is a list of the top mistakes made by beginners, and advice from expert photographers and instructors on how to take better photos.
Hold camera steady
When blown up, a photo that is even slightly out of focus will appear blurry. Stand with feet apart, arms close to your body. Adjust the focus until it is completely sharp. Squeeze the button – don’t punch it – to take the picture. Using tripods or resting the camera on something also helps.
Look to see if you have a clean background before taking a photo. Avoid poles coming out of people’s heads and branches coming from their faces. Also look for wires or any objects that are unnecessary and clutter the photo. Try moving in closer to your subject or going from another angle to avoid extra objects.
Composition is how you place and use objects in your photo to achieve the final look. Avoid putting your subject right in the middle of the frame. The “rule of thirds” means placing subjects toward the top, bottom or side of the frame. Avoid having too many objects in the photo. Consider how your subjects relate to one other. A good way to learn is to look at as many photographs as possible in books, magazines, newspapers, etc., and learn what makes them good photos.
Decide why you are taking the picture
If you see a house you like and want to take its picture, decide why you like it and focus on that detail. Don’t stand way back and take a general shot of the whole house if what you really like is a turret or its shutters.
Fill the frame with your subject
Decide what you are taking a picture of, like the shutters of a house, and then fill the frame with just that. Avoid extra and unnecessary details that detract from your subject.
Always have a camera on hand
You never know when the perfect opportunity will come up. You may never see that scene again, and you’ll kick yourself later.
Know how to use lighting
The wrong lighting can ruin a photo, and there are some simple tricks to taking a better photo. Read photography books, take classes and experiment on your own.
This is the most important factor of taking better photos. Rules can teach you basic composition, lighting, focus, etc., but your creativity is what will set your work apart. After taking the standard, straight-on photo, try shooting crazy angles and perspectives. Play around with your subject and have fun.