American photographer Chase Jarvis famously said: “The best camera is the one that’s with you”. And with smartphone camera specs now higher that most photographers could ever have dreamed of, the ‘cameras’ we carry around offer enormous potential to take stunning photos.
So why is it that when we look through the dozens of photos we take at family events, on holiday, or in our day-to-day lives, we’re often disappointed? Hundreds of photos and yet very few – if any – that we’d proudly hang on our wall.
It doesn’t have to be like that! With a few tips (and as much practice as you can!), you too can take photos that are worth printing and displaying. Here are five points to keep in mind.
Use the ‘rule of thirds’
While ‘there are no rules in photography’, if you look at photos that really ‘work’, you’ll find that many of them follow the ‘rule of thirds’. To understand this concept, think about dividing your frame in three equal sections, both horizontally and vertically, to give a nine-box grid.
Deliberately placing the most important element of your photo (be that a person, animal, building, mountain, flower etc), on one of those vertical lines and can help you tell more of a story with just one shot. As western cultures read from left to right, placing the subject on the right-hand vertical line is most common, as we tend to first scan the space before the subject.
TIP: While you’re trying out this technique, you can actually turn on grid lines on your phone’s camera, so you can see if you’re framing your photo in the best way.
Look for symmetry
In a busy, and sometimes crazy world, our brains like to find things that are neat and ordered. And as soon as you start looking, you’ll notice examples of symmetry (or at least near symmetry) all around us.
Symmetry can be both impactful and intriguing, so have fun with it, and enjoy capturing some ‘easy’ yet striking photos.
Embrace negative space
Sometimes, less is more. And this can definitely true when you want to really draw the viewer to the subject of the photo. ’Negative space’, also known as ‘white space’, is literally just the space around or between objects in your photo, and it can bring a sense of calm.
It can take a little courage to dare to leave what seems like so much empty space in your photo, but with a little practice you’ll start to see how it pays off.
Take advantage of natural light
Natural light is a photographer’s best friend. And learning how to take advantage of natural light and position yourself well, will give you a much better chance of taking great photos.
Rather than trying to ‘force’ photos, and deliberately move your subjects so they’re well positioned, just keep this in mind so you’re ready to snap those perfect shots when the time and moment is right.
Don’t be afraid to edit
While you don’t want to strip away the authenticity of your photos, it’s amazing how some quick edits – even just using the editing tool on your phone – can turn an ok photo into something really special.
Before starting to play with the quality of the photo, think about whether or not you want to crop the photo. Maybe a slight crop can bring an important element into a more prominent place, helping you to tell the story of the photo.
When it comes to the look and feel of the photo itself, you don’t need to simply add a filter … unless you want your photos to look like everyone else’s.
Some of the most common elements you might want to adjust are:
Exposure: This refers to the amount of light that was used when the photo was taken. Not enough light and the photo will be dark, or underexposed; too much light, and the photo will be overexposed. You can adjust this a little using your photo editing tool/in your app, but don’t expect to make huge corrections. It’s better to pay attention to how much light there is when you take the photo in the first place.
Contrast: This refers to the difference between the lightest and darkest areas of the photo. If you increase the contrast, the light areas get lighter, and the dark areas darker – this can make the photo feel more energetic and defined. If you decrease the contrast, the difference between the light and dark tones is reduced, which can give a more vintage or subdued feel.
Brightness: This control uniformly changes all the colors, from extremely light (white) to extremely dark (black). You can use it to make the overall picture lighter or darker, not to brighten or darken selective areas.
Saturation: This refers to the intensity of all the colours in the photo. Sometimes a tiny boost can help liven up a photo, but use it sparingly – too much and it will look overdone, especially when there are people in the photo.
Shadows/highlights: ‘Shadows’ adjusts the details in the darker parts of your photos, while ‘highlights’ adjusts the details in the brighter parts.
With all these settings, you’ll need to play around with them to achieve a result that works for you.
As with most things, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. So try out some of these techniques and see if you can start taking photos that you’d be proud to print and hang on your wall!
Do you already have some images you’d like to display on your wall? Create your very own artwork in just a few clicks in our printing shop.