Taking better pictures

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Nine Keys To Taking Better Pictures

You can own the best camera equipment, but that can’t replace what is responsible for great photography – You! Anyone can shoot pictures, but what separates the average photographer and the elite is how you use the camera as a tool and how to use your creativity to share your unique vision.

Professional photographers have taken many years to practice and hone their skills before they were considered among the elite and capturing a subject’s character by projecting emotions and feelings. Below are nine key steps that should assist you in becoming the photographer that you want to be, but remember it takes constant practice:

1. Composition Is The Key

2. Subject

3. Context

4. Subject Placement

5. Lines & Paths

6. Backgrounds

7. Blurring

8. Lighting

9. Experiment

Composition Is The Key

Despite the technical talk, photography is an art form and its most important aspect is composition. To improve your art skills, find photos that you enjoy and ask yourself what exactly drew you to that photo. Once you understand composition and how it was used in those photos, you can go out and try some for yourself.


When taking a photograph, identify what the subject is. A simple answer of a person or an object is not the answer. You need to go a lot more in depth to identify the subject. Maybe it’s the curves of the body or crackling fixture of the building. What drew you to that “subject” in the first place? Generally, it is the same senses that gave you the sense of touch, smell, taste or feel.

I encourage you to take your time and study the subject before you shoot it. Then ask yourself what was it that appealed to you in the first place that made you want to shoot it. Two questions to also ask are “what is the purpose of this photograph?” and “what kind of reaction do I want my viewer to get from it?”


The next step is to find context. Something such as a backdrop which can add relevance, contrast and/or location to the subject you are shooting. Another is to add depth by finding a context in a different spatial plane than the subject. For example, if the subject is a building and it’s in the background, then make the context a flower or person in the foreground. That would make a big difference in your photograph.

Subject Placement

The placement of your subject in the frame is important for your context. The weakest spot of the frame is in the center. It gives no value to the context as it can become dull. The more you move your subject away from the center, the more the impact on your context. So you would want to maneuver until you get the right balance. Each item has a “weight” and if not balanced in a frame, the photo can shift to one side of the frame.

Lines & Paths

Create an impact by using inferred or real lines, or paths, that can lead a viewer’s eye into and throughout the picture. Train tracks, roads, rivers, walking paths and fences are the most obvious choices, but there are also lines from the subject that are inferred leading to the context. Lines have subtle effects. Horizontal lines can be peaceful, diagonals can be tense or dynamic and curves can be sensuous, sexy and active. You can also connect lines, such as a triangle, within a path or shape. A picture should tell a story for the eyes to explore. Therefore, by providing a path, you allow your eyes action and a place to rest.


A high quality portrait photo should have a passive background, one that does not take away the attention from the subject. A portrait photo is all about the person’s face and should be taken with a neutral background. A background that is comprised of soft, solid colors is a good background. A busy street or people moving are bad backgrounds to use.


A great way to grab your viewer’s attention is by blurring the background. This is one way to allow them to focus on the object at hand, and not losing them between the object and the background. This will literally lift the object out of the photo and make it standout.

The technique to blur is an easy task. First, set your camera to a shallow depth of field. To do this, you can use a zoom lens and shoot from a shorter distance or with a wide aperture manual setting.

A face has many details, so the best place to focus is the eyes. The eyes tell a story as they convey emotions, feelings, and state of mind. Depending on the story you are trying to tell from the photo guide, your subject should look straight towards the camera or look to the side while focusing on another object.


Whenever possible, use natural lighting as it is much better for capturing full color ranges and warmth of the skin. Take photos during the day outdoors and position the object so that the sunlight hits it from the side.

Dont shoot photos with sunlight directly in front of the object or it may result in overexposure and color distortion. You can use a fill-in flash to compensating some of the shadowing you may occur on the face, such as the nose area.


It’s going to take time before you perfect your portrait shooting abilities. Using a digital camera, the cost of shooting photos is practically zero. Experiment as often as you can and then check your results often. Make any necessary adjustments until you get a sense of how to get those perfect quality portraits.

All in all, there are so many aspects to becoming a really great photographer. These nine keys are just a few for you to consider as you begin your journey in becoming the next great photographer. Good Luck!