The principles of basic photography are the very foundation for all types of photography, both digital and film. If a photographer ignores these basics, their ability to efficiently learn the art and craft of photography is severely crippled. Truly educating yourself in the field of digital photography in our modern, “instant” society is really only possible if you apply these fundamental principles. For photographers, the digital realm is yet one more tool in his or her photographic arsenal, and there is really no quick method of gaining expertise. It takes practice, work and study. There’s just no way around that. However, If you’re ready to apply yourself just a little bit, and to follow the simple photography principles I’ve laid out here, then you’ll certainly be on the right road to learning digital photography quickly. And, when I say “quickly”, I really do mean “QUICKLY!” So, here we go:
1. Be sure to choose your subject carefully:
Your subject is the very centerpiece of your photo – the focus point of the final image. Always be sure to identify your subject and focus on it. This is absolutely non-negotiable! If your subject isn’t clearly and immediately identifiable to the viewer, your final image will be substandard. It will lack definition and purpose. So, make sure, before you take the picture, that you know exactly what your subject going to be!
2. Be smart in placing your subject within the fame:
Mentally divide the image into equal thirds – both horizontally, and vertically. Just imagine, in your mind’s eye, two separate lines across your viewfinder, and two separate lines down – think of it like looking through a tic-tac-toe board, superimposed on your viewfinder, at the image. The points at which these lines intersect each other, in most cases, those are the points where you want to place your subject. If there’s a natural horizon in your image, then you’ll want to line that horizon up with one of those two horizontal lines. You should almost NEVER place a horizon directly across the middle of the frame! This is a mistake that amateurs often make, and doing so will almost always make your shots look amateurish.
3. Be sure to get close to the subject!
In most cases, the subject of your photograph is what is central to the scene you are photographing – it’s what you want the viewer’s attention focused on. So, you’ll want to get as much of your subject into your photo as you can. You’ll want to fill your photograph with as much of your subject as possible. This is especially true if you’re taking portraits, or family photographs. If you think you’re too close to your subject, you’re probably still not close enough!
4. Cut out the clutter from around your subject!
Look at your subject in the frame of your camera. Are there any distracting objects around it? Your photo is about your subject, remember. Unless you’re specifically attempting to show some sort of relationship between your subject and its environment, usually the less of the environment (and, thus, the more of the subject) that makes it into your photograph, the better! Be sure that there aren’t any trees, telephone poles, or other objects protruding from your subject’s head. Unless, for some reason, you’d like to particularly remember that bicycle, garbage can, signboard, hydro-tower, etc., in the background of your photo, you should probably try to leave them out of your scene. Try to notice anything that you just wouldn’t care about seeing in 20 years time while viewing your old photos – if you find something like that, you should make sure it doesn’t make it into your picture.
5. Study your subject from different angles.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to make a photograph instantly interesting, is to shoot your subject from an unusual angle – an angle which people aren’t used to seeing everyday. How many times have you stood directly in front of your Mom and looked her in the face? Probably millions, right? How many times have you seen your Mom from almost directly over head? Or, while lying on the floor, off to the right of her, from four feet away? Probably no where close to millions of times, right? Views that are uncommon – that show your subject from a perspective which viewers are not used to seeing that subject in – are interesting. They will intrigue the viewer. So, try taking your photo from up high – perhaps find something to stand on when you take your picture. Or, try it from way down low, looking up toward your subject. Try to find all sorts of different angles to shoot from. It’s an easy way to instantly make your photo unique, and to give you a different and more interesting perspective. Take a look at people’s family snapshots that were taken by non-professional photographers. They’re almost always shot straight on, from kind of far away, with lots of meaningless background between the people in the photos and the edges of the frame. Then, take a look a bunch of photographs of people taken by professional photographers. Those photos look good, don’t they? What’s different? Do you notice how the professional photos have their subjects filling the frame? How there isn’t really anything in the photos that isn’t integral to what the photo is about? And, how, quite often, the photographer has employed the use of making you view the subject from an uncommon or unusual angle?
In closing, here’s a fantastic bonus tip for you: Decide on a subject that you’d like to photograph and try shooting your subject in fifty or so different ways! Take one picture from up high, one from down low, from the right, from the left, take one from directly above your subject. Get in EXTREMELY close, try turning your camera at various angles when you snap the shot, hold your camera way above your head, or down around your knees. Alter your angle of view – walk all around your subject snapping pictures, lie down on your back, or flat on your belly. This may sound like a lot of work, but if you do it, I’m sure you’ll find that it’s actually kind of fun! And, when you’re done, simply browse through all of the photos you took and I guarantee that you’ll be positively astounded by some of those pictures! When you view the photos, pick which ones really stood out, and ask yourself why you think those ones worked so well, and why others didn’t. You’ll likely only need to do this a few times before you really get a hang for what will produce an interesting photo, and your pictures will begin to absolutely amaze your friends and family!
So, try to follow, and put into practice, these basic photographic techniques and principles and I can guarantee you that your photographs will improve by leaps and bounds very quickly! Spend some time applying what I’ve told you and very likely, within just a few, short hours, your friends and family members will be heaping praise and compliments on you and on your remarkable photographs!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Would you like to learn more about photography in the digital world? Wayne Turner has just published brand new e-learning course which can be delivered directly to your e-mail! Be sure to download it for FREE by CLICKING HERE! You can also learn the secrets of taking perfect photos in just 21 steps by reading my brand new ebook: 21 Steps 2 Perfect Photos!
Wayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years and has written three books on photography.