Photography tips

Simple tips to improve your photography. Find out about a simple three-step approach to taking pictures: see, select, shoot.


Have you ever taken pictures that didn't capture what you saw? If so, have you ever wondered what went wrong? This article looks at simple techniques guaranteed to produce good pictures whatever camera and lenses you have.

Taking a picture has three steps:

Where, then, do things go wrong? Usually during step two, selecting — the part between thinking 'I'll take a picture of that' and pressing the button.

Will your picture capture the moment? Will it have impact? Will you want to frame it and hang it on a wall? Or is it destined to languish at the bottom of a drawer and never see daylight again? The answers depend on the decisions you make just before taking the picture.



OK, you've seen something interesting and decided to photograph it. It could be a person, a landscape, or a building. Stop and remind yourself exactly why you want to take the picture.

If you're photographing a person, it's likely that you are attracted by an expression, or clothing, or what the person is doing. For other subjects, it might be a striking combination of colours: maybe a white church contrasted against a blue sky, or a red house isolated on a green hillside.

There are thousands of things that could catch your eye. But whatever it is, you must ensure that the picture captures it. So, keep the picture's purpose firmly in your mind while you do the following:

These techniques will provide a solid foundation for your photography but they are not rules to be followed slavishly for every picture — many striking pictures do not follow the advice given.



Here are four pictures that demonstrate the points made in this article:

Red hut on hillside

Here, it was the contrast between the red and the shades of green that interested me. There was a bright blue sky but it was too dominant, so I excluded it. Note that the building is carefully placed at an intersection of thirds.

Coloured huts

Colours like these beg to be photographed. But it needs a bit of thought to make the most of such an opportunity. I put the apex of the blue hut at an intersection of thirds. The viewer's eye is led to this point by the diagonal lines of the front building, making the picture appear three-dimensional.

Santorini, Greece

It was important to make sure that this picture appeared three-dimensional. I included part of a building to provide a foreground that would work with the features in the middle ground and background. The impression of depth is enhanced by the diagonal part of the white wall.

Two macaws

The most important point here was to get a clear background behind the birds' heads. I achieved it by kneeling down and using a low viewpoint. I was also able to put the birds' heads at an intersection of thirds.


Armchair photography

Hopefully, these tips have made you want to go out and take better pictures, but it's possible to try out some of the ideas without moving from your armchair. Get out the last set of pictures you took, look at each one, and ask yourself why you took the picture. Well, does the picture capture what you saw? If not, you should now be able to decide why.

You can also have a go at removing things and moving a feature to a different position: get four strips of cardboard and overlay them on a picture to create new edges and so find a picture within a picture. If you come up with something better than the original, that's what you want to see in the viewfinder next time.

The techniques I have described soon become second nature. They are almost certain to improve your holiday snaps, and you might even get hooked on a fascinating hobby.




All content © Malcolm Beaumont