How to take a good photograph

With modern automatic cameras the only real challenge left in photography is composition. Read these ten easy tips and learn how to take a photo as a professional would.

1 Line it up
Make sure that you keep any lines in your picture straight. For example keep your horizon horizontal and objects such as the sides of buildings vertical.

2. Be aware of the background
Don’t let an oddly-placed background object ruin your picture. Make sure there isn’t a street sign or tree branch coming out of your subject’s head, unless of course you are intentionally creating a funny picture.

3. The all-important rule of thirds
You may have heard of the rule of thirds. This guideline gets thrown around design classrooms a lot. The rule of thirds is where you divide your picture into three sections using two imaginary horizontal lines, and two imaginary vertical lines. Try to line the horizontal or vertical lines in your picture, such as the horizon or building edges, up with these imaginary lines. Putting the subject of your photograph on one of the intersections of these lines is a reasonably failsafe way of composing your shot.

4. Use the space
If you are using the rule of thirds to place a person in a shot, make sure they are looking into the space, rather than out of the shot.

5. Focus on the subject
Most point and click cameras are good at focussing on the subject of the photo, but sometimes they get confused. Pushing the shutter button down half-way will force the camera to focus, and if it can’t decide on a subject, it will focus on whatever is in the centre of the viewfinder. If you are having trouble focussing on your subject, move the camera so the subject in the centre of the shot, push the shutter button down halfway to focus on it, then without letting the shutter button go, re-compose your photo with the subject on one of the rule of thirds lines. Finally once you are happy with your composition push the button down the rest of the way to take the photo. This can give you a great fuzzy background with a really clear focus on the subject.

Click NEXT to discover five more ways to take a better photograph 6. Don’t do anything by halves
When photographing a person either take a full body shot, or a head and shoulders shot. Cutting someone off at the waist or the knees can look decidedly odd. If you are doing a full body shot don’t crop bits of limbs or the tops of heads.

7. Get in close
When doing portrait shots don’t be afraid to get in close. Leaving too much space around the edge of your subject can make them look awkward and small. If you aren’t comfortable putting the camera up in their face then use your zoom.

8. Keep it natural
When photographing people try setting your camera to take multiple shots in quick succession. People’s faces can change enormously in seconds, and this can go some way to solving the problem of the perfect shot being marred by a blink. You can always delete the extras later.

9. Frame it
Try framing your shot. This can be done by shooting through a window, door, arch or simply using a tree branch to frame one side of the photo. It just means standing far enough back to get the whole doorway, or the whole window, in the shot as well as what you are photographing through your ‘frame’.

10. Stay creative
Nobody wants to see thousands of photos taken through a window or with all the subjects in the bottom right hand corner. Try taking your shots from different angles – for example lie on the floor and shoot up to make something look exceptionally tall, or ask your subject to look up and shoot down at them from a staircase or chair. Different angles and compositions will keep your work interesting, and it will help you to learn what looks good.

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