With good cameras becoming more reasonably priced and nearly all phones having one built-in, photography's something that most people can now easily dabble in. Even though this is true, there are still people out there, kids for example, who haven't picked up a camera before and need a little guidance. So, that brings us on to our ten basic photography tips to teach someone new to photography.
1. Hold The Camera Correctly
This may seem like a really obvious thing to be telling someone, but camera shake, which can occur when you're not holding the camera correctly, is a problem those who are new to photography face. In fact, those who use mobile phones to take photos and hold one hand out while trying to press the shutter button will know all too well how it can result in blurry, wonky shots. To stop this, hold your camera / phone with two hands, quite close to your body, position your feet shoulder-width apart to give yourself a more stable base to shoot from.
If you're using the LCD to compose your shot don't stick your arms out too far in front of you and keep your arms/elbows tucked in when possible.
Before you take your shot, make sure your fingers aren't over the flash (if using it) or blocking the lens and keep a firm grip of your camera but don't squeeze too tightly as you can cause the camera to move, resulting in shake.
Having your arms tucked close to your sides and standing as still as possible will stop any blur caused by movement from spoiling your shot. Don't move your camera / phone away as soon as you've clicked your shutter button either as shutter lag can mean your camera's still processing the shot so you'll end up with a blurry photo of another part of the scene rather than the person or object you want a photo of.
Using a tripod will keep the camera still and help keep shake to a minimum. There are various light-weight, easy to use models which are designed to be used with smaller cameras.
If you don't have a tripod, use a nearby solid object as a support or lean against a wall, tree or whatever object you can find that won't move.
Being conscious of your breathing can further minimise shake. Some suggest taking a deep breath, holding it, taking your shot and exhaling while others prefer to do it the other way around. It's not something that's recommended for very long exposures though!
4. Hold The Camera Straight
Check the framing of your shot before hitting the shutter button as having a photo where it looks like everything's about to slide out of frame's easily done. Having said that, there are times when shooting on an angle can work really well but most of the time, you'll want your horizons to be straight. Using a tripod can help as some models have built-in spirit levels which can tell you when the tripod's not straight. There are the occasions where the spirit level will tell you the shot's wonky but your eye will know different so trust your instincts on these occasions.
5. Shutter Button
Don't be too heavy-handed with the shutter button as this can cause the camera to move which can mean you end up with a slightly blurred shot.
Another important thing to learn about the shutter button is that it can be pressed half way to focus your shot. This can be used in all shooting situations but is particularly important for shots where your camera doesn't know what your main focus point is and as a result, you end up with blur in the wrong part of the shot. An example of this would be when you position your subject to the left or right of the shot, leaving more space towards the centre and opposite side. As your subject is off-centre your camera may not think they're what you want to focus on and as a result, they'll be blurry while you'll have a background that's nicely in focus. However, using focus lock (half-pressing the shutter) will stop this from happening. Have a look at our previous tutorial for more tips on how to use this: Focus Lock.
6. Different Modes
Camera modes are there to help you take the best possible images you can so learn what they're for and switch to them when needed. There's also aperture and shutter priority which give you more control over how your camera takes photos and are a great way to start your journey into the manual world. For more tips take a look at these tutorials:
As well as using different modes for different situations, have a go at shooting from different angles and positions too.
Check the background for unsightly items and objects sticking out of your subject's head. If you're not planning on throwing your background out of focus (some drive modes do this automatically) so it's blurred, make sure it's not too distracting or cluttered.
8. Fill The Frame
Use the optical zoom on your camera to bring your subject closer, filling the frame and creating more interest. A person can look dwarfed in a wide landscape or surrounded by buildings so use your zoom so you don't lose them in the frame. If you're using a camera phone which doesn't have an optical zoom use your feet to move you closer to your subject rather than using the digital zoom which can lower the quality of the shot.
9. Focus Point
A shot needs a focal point otherwise your eyes will be left searching the image and they won't find anywhere to settle. You can have more than one focal point but make sure the point that's secondary doesn't fight your main focal point to be the centre of attention. Once you know what your main focal point is there are various compositional tricks you can perform which includes using various elements within the frame to draw the eye to one focus point, you can adjust your framing to make a more pleasing composition or zoom in to really focus on your subject, eliminating other items in the process.
10. Shoot Different Subjects
Many professional photographers focus on one type of photography, but this isn't something you need to do straight away. Experiment with various subjects, learning how each needs to be approached differently in the process. It'll also give you the chance to find out which you enjoy shooting the most so if you do want to start shooting more regularly, you'll have a particular subject you can work on perfecting.
Don't be afraid to take lots of shots either as getting out there and actually pressing the shutter button is the best way to learn. Do take the time to evaluate your work too so you know what needs to be improved and just as importantly, know what techniques work successfully. You can also ask other photographers, family members and friends for their feedback too as sometimes they'll see things you've missed. Finally, make sure you have fun and enjoy taking photos!
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