Graphic Arts

5 Simple Tips For Turning Your Photos From Good To Great!

PhtochikGrab your camera and hit the streets! Photography has developed into a favorite pastime of those with an artist eye. Digital photography has opened up professional picture gathering to a whole new audience. Where it used to cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars to buy equipment and develop film, anyone can buy a camera, snap some photos, and load them up on their computer or even online.

Like any worthwhile skill, however, photography can take an hour to learn and a lifetime to master. Photography is one of the few arts that relies heavily on technology – there can be no pictures without a camera to take it.

Developing a working relationship with the camera can be difficult, as there are endless settings, filters, buttons, and dials to work with. Following are a handful of tips to help you get started with photography, or gain some new perspective in the field.

Play with Light

It’s true – lighting can make or break a picture. The best way to discover what lighting is best for your specific style is experimenting, but there are a few agreed upon conventions that will help your pictures turn out for the better. The best time to take pictures outdoors, for instance, is between the hours of 11am and 4pm – the lighting during this time of day is enough to fully illuminate targets and landscape, as well as people.

Experiment with different light levels inside and outdoors – it can make the difference between an uninteresting picture and a memorable photo. Remember the saying, “The best light is free” – natural lighting is always preferable, when going for a realistic look.

Change the Positioning

Many of us have stood in one spot for ages, trying to perfect a certain shot – next time you’re out in the field, try switching up your stance. Looks good from where your standing? Maybe it would look better if you lay on the ground. Staying stationary?

Try taking a run with your camera – you’ll see unique things happen to pictures in motion. If you’re out and about taking pictures from the driver’s seat of a car, get out of the car and into the action!

An amazing picture was once taken of a man leaning over the edge of the Grand Canyon to get his perfect shot… but how do you think the cameraman took the picture of him? Certainly not from his car! Whatever you do when you take a picture, switch it up – you’ll be surprised at the results. Just don’t get too close to the cliff’s edge!

Keep it Composed

Make sure that, when you’re taking a picture, it has a focal point or real composition. You may be taking a picture of a mountain in the distance, but make sure the foreground has something to. Maybe a small tree or plant? The same goes for the reverse – if you’re focusing on something in the foreground, make sure the background has something interesting to look at as well.

Keep the focal points away from the center of the image – try taking several shots, with the focal point in different corners or quadrants of the photo. Keeping the horizon level is suggested, unless you are going for a specific “crooked” look.

Of course, like all good rules, these are meant to be broken – stick with the rules until you feel comfortable enough in your craft to think outside of the box. Remember that all artistic visionaries and photographic geniuses started working with the basic rules, and then proceeded beyond them.


Bokeh – the artful quality of blur, or more specifically the out-of-focus areas of a photography or image. Bokeh can be your friend once you learn to utilize it – it can pull the focus, add emotional elements, and create unusual and fantastic effects to your pictures. Lights can turn into fantastical glowing orbs, and background material melts into the background as the core focus pops into the forefront.

To snag this fuzzy, stunning effect, make sure to set your camera’s lens to the lowest aperture number, which is the most open aperture. Experiment with angle, lighting, and distance from the target – each of these can mix in a different way to create complete unique shots of the same target.

Get Guidance

How important is it to get a little guidance? A photographer is always learning – whether a beginning snapshot shooter or a seasoned professional, everyone can learn a new trick to try out. While you may feel that learning is easier by simply doing, there are some tricks to the trade that might not come as naturally as you would think.

Important aspects of photography can go missed if a beginner doesn’t seek out some additional lessons. Terminology helps fellow photographers to communicate and describe how to frame a shot, or get a desired look or affect. Some cameras require special treatment to shoot and develop the film properly – it’s hard to approach these cameras without some initial instruction.

Free lessons, tips, and tricks are available for free from a myriad of sources online. If you wish to secure a paid tutelage, consider pursuing a degree in the field – not only with you have knowledge when you reach the other side of your classes, you’ll have the credentials to show it. Perhaps a handful of paid classes are more your style – they allow for more freedom than a college course would, and additional flexibility to leave at any time you want.

Photography is one of the broadest forms of visual communication – people show their deepest truths through what they choose to photograph. With a push of a button, a thousand words and a thousand more memories, moments, and feelings are instilled forever. Photography is more than a hobby – it’s an art form. Keep the above tips in mind when heading out to snap your photos, and see your art come to life under the lens.

Graham Samuels is a freelance writer and amateur photographer who enjoys writing on a very broad range of topics for many different businesses – covering computing topics, hobbies, and even subjects as niche as how to place photos on canvas.

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