A lot of people think that photography is as easy as picking up a little box and pressing a button. As a recent college graduate with a degree in photography, I can tell you, it sure as heck ain't. Sure, anyone can take a photograph. But taking a good photograph; well that's a bit different.
I don't consider myself an expert, yet. But I have learned a lot over the past few years and I'd like to pass on a few quick tips. For me, I believe the first step to taking a photo is, well, picking up a camera. It doesn't have to be a super fancy DSLR; it could be a point and shoot or a smartphone, really. Once you have an image-capturing device, I think the next thing an up-and-coming photographer needs to understand is composition. I'll break this up into two brief sections: the rule of thirds and viewpoints.
- The Rule of Thirds
- The rule of thirds is really simple and intuitive. Have you ever noticed the grid that's available to you on most cameras and camera phones? Yup, that applies to the rule of thirds. People find photos more visually interesting when things are off-center. Weird, huh? There's science and psychology to back up and explain why that is, but hopefully you'll just trust me. Now realize, there are always exceptions to a rule; but the next time you pull out your camera or phone, try enabling the grid and playing around with it. Match up the horizon of your landscapes with the bottom or top third of the grid or off-center your portraits a bit. You just might be surprised with the results.
- Getting a Better Viewpoint
- Sometimes eye level just isn't right for the occasion. Some shots can look a lot better from slightly above or below eye level. There are a couple of rules on angles. For example, photographing something from above can make it seem smaller, while shooting from below will make the target more powerful. Lots of cityscapes are taken from above to make the city seem less vast. Portraits of business leaders and action heroes are from a lower angle to make them seem empowered and confident. For small objects, pets and kids, get down to their level. Their world is a little different from what we see every day, as a photographer you can use that to your advantage.
The best advice I have for new photographers is to just keep taking photos. No one ever got better at anything without practicing it. And don't be afraid to experiment, you'll be amazed at how much you can learn by taking risks and trying something new.