How to Take Better Pictures

Most of the content we consume online involves some kind of visual aspect, making photography a very high-in-demand skill. We live in a digital age where access to photography equipment is easier than ever before. Cameras come in a variety of ranges from smartphones to DSLR, but owning a fancy camera does not automatically turn someone into a photographer. Just like learning how to play an instrument, photography is an art that takes time to develop skill. Not everyone has access to a professional-grade camera. In fact, the quality of smartphone cameras are improving with time and have the ability to capture beautiful photos. I enjoy taking pictures, but in no way do I consider myself to be an expert photographer. In fact, I don’t even own a DSLR camera; all the pictures I take are with my smartphone.

This week in my New Media Design class we began our unit on photography. My professor shared eight simple tips with the class on how to capture better photos. We were then given the task to take eight different pictures, each demonstrating one of the eight tips for good photography. I went back through my archives of pictures I took this year to find examples for this assignment, and found that I was using all of my professor’s tips before even knowing about them! I would like to share my pictures with you to show that with a smartphone camera and an editing app, even novice photographers can take great pictures!

Camera: Samsung Galaxy S6 (1440 x 2560 pixels)

Editing App: VSCO

Here the pictures I took that exhibit the eight helpful tips I learned in class:

1. Simplify: 

Less is more. Focus in on a single subject and remove all other unnecessary objects.

Backyard • Atlanta, GA • June 2016

2. The Rule of Thirds: 

The human eye finds images divided into thirds very appealing. A picture can be divided into thirds horizontally and vertically. Instead of placing your subject in the center, try offsetting it to the left or right side of the frame.

Pacific Ocean • Santa Monica, CA • March 2016

3. The Golden Ratio: 

Using the Fibonacci Spiral, the Golden Ratio divides the picture and positions elements into proportions that are appealing to the eye. Famous paintings such as the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper are all composed based on the Golden Ratio. The science behind this concept is that the densest part of the photo (containing the subject) is at the center of the spiral. As the spiral progresses, the density of the photo’s contents decrease. You can learn more about it here.

Santa Monica Pier • Santa Monica, CA • March 2016

4. Rule of Odds: 

Photographers should always be looking out for opportunities to break rules and capture the unexpected. The human brain is trained to find comfort in even numbers, limited contrast, and vertical/horizontal lines. Pictures that follow the norm are often boring. Instead, capture pictures with an odd number of objects to catch the viewer’s interest.

Painted Ladies • San Francisco, CA • April 2016

5. Look for Contrast: 

Use lighting and contrasting colors to create depth and emphasize a focus on the subject.

JFK International Airport • New York, NY • May 2016

6. Use Diagonals and Curves: 

Diagonal lines and curves are way more interesting than straight lines.

Palau de la Música Catalana • Barcelona, Spain • May 2016

7. Leading Lines:

Use leading lines as a way to direct the viewer to the subject. Leading lines create an extra layer of depth and point the viewer exactly where you want them to look.

Reynolds Lake Oconee • Greensboro, GA • May 2016

8. Give Space: 

If your subject is looking at something outside of the frame, don’t crop the picture at the end of the face. Instead, give the subject some space. Extend the frame a little bit more in the direction of the subject’s visual path to give the viewer more context of what the subject is looking at.

Home • Atlanta, GA • August 2016

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