Better pictures? 3 rules for taking better pictures now.

Taking better pictures is a subject I still get asked about a lot. One would think with the invention of video, photography had very little left to show the world. But the skill of a photographer is to show you something that you have seen everyday but have actually never seen as they see it and therefore they show you something new.

The advantage of the still image is the ability to study both a point in time and all the elements that you might have missed from having viewed a situation in real life. So how does a photographer achieve the different or the complete picture every time when the average man in the street seems not to be able to, how do you take better pictures?

Obviously experience teaches a lot of techniques that we can call upon learned from repetition and attention to visual detail. So here’s a few tips on what a professional photographer would do to achieve a shot better than the average man.

First, look at all four corners of the frame. A simple statement that few people do. Mr Average will be concentrating on the subject they want to photograph. And not realize that that subject either isn’t filling the frame or is cropped by the frame – normally the first of the two.


badly framed better picture
The important subject is the church but the power station ruins the shot
The better picture is just the church
cropping to just what you want creates better pictures


By checking all four corners of the frame you can eliminate unwanted detail and maximize the image on the subject you want, these always result in bettter pictures. If filling the frame with the subject you want isn’t possible because you can’t get near enough or you don’t have a lens that will get you close enough don’t be afraid of cropping the image to a smaller file size before showing it to others. Cameras today take files far larger than needed for showing on most of the digital devices generally used.

Second, look at where the light is coming from. If the light is behind you the subject will be evenly or flatly lit but also possibly squinting and pulling funny faces at the camera as they try not to be blinded by the light. Much better to get the light over their shoulder, backlighting the hair and if the contrast is too much so they actually appear as a dark blob in the foreground then add a little fill in flash.


non fillin flash not for better pictures
No fill in flash
Fill in flash makes better pictures
with fill in flash and better framed


Camera exposures will always average the light coming in to the chip, so a very bright background can result in under exposed foregrounds, where the main subject might be. The fill in flash can solve this problem and make better pictures.

Thirdly and lastly, to make better pictures try and take it from an angle other people won’t have viewed a subject from. This might be a high or low position or it might be framing the subject with something interesting in the foreground. Everyone normally see’s stuff from eye level so logically another angle will already be more interesting. Add the other two suggestions into the mix and you have the makings of a better than average image every time.

better pictures from different angles
A low angle, tight on the subject and a moment in time suspendended to make an interesting picture.



Brian Russell

copyright June 2015