Anyone can snap a photo, but very few people take great pictures. Capturing meaningful moments is an art. The best photographs are beautiful, inspirational, and emotional.
What makes a good photograph? There are no right or wrong answers – beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But professional photographers have some helpful tips and tricks to offer.
If you want to learn how to take awesome photos, keep reading. Here are some of the top qualities of a good photograph.
The Best Photos Tell a Story
Powerful photos tell a story. What’s happening in your photograph? If the answer is nothing, your image might be too boring to publish.
Take a cue from photojournalists and look for the action. Instead of photographing a simple flower, wait for a bee to arrive. A friend sipping a drink in the sunshine illustrates an idyllic summer afternoon.
Your story doesn’t have to be newsworthy. Even everyday life can be interesting. Use your creativity to turn mundane moments into something spectacular.
Thoughtful Composition Is Key
Know what to include in your shot and what to leave out. As a photographer, thoughtful composition is an essential skill. Never point and shoot without thinking first.
Consider where to place your subject in the frame. Front and center isn’t always the best choice.
The rule of thirds can be helpful, but remember that rules are made to be broken. Stay intentional as you find ways to draw the eye to your subject.
Think about distance, angles, and symmetry. Are there architectural elements you can use to frame your shot? Try to eliminate clutter and distractions, unless they add real interest to your image.
Check out TopFoto for some great examples of creative composition.
Spark an Emotional Reaction
Even technically imperfect photos can evoke emotions. Observe the world around you and notice situations that make you feel something.
Joy, sadness, and intimacy are everywhere. As a photographer, it’s your job to capture the sentiment and share it with your viewers. Emotional photos have the power to change the world.
Capture Once in a Lifetime Moments
As you move through life, look for unique moments that are unlikely to happen again.
If you see someone riding a camel through New York City, you should take a photo. Maybe it’s snowing at sunset on top of a mountain.
Simple movements and facial expressions can also lead to once in a lifetime captures. Imagine snapping a photo right as your friend jumps off a boat into the ocean. Images of people in mid-air are captivating.
Timing matters. Subjects, surroundings, and lighting change in the blink of an eye. Be patient and attentive as you wait for the perfect time to click.
Contrast Is Your Friend
Contrast adds an extra level of interest to photographs. Combining beauty with destruction is sure to fascinate your viewers. This is why architectural ruins are a popular setting for fashion photoshoots.
The same goes for dark and light, life and death, and movement and stillness. Take advantage of opposing forces to create images that stand out.
Experiment With Lighting
Lighting is a photographer’s best friend and worst enemy. Learning to take advantage of light can feel overwhelming at first. Know that it will get easier.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with exposure, movement, and off-camera lighting. Pay attention to the angle of the natural light and how it interacts with your subject.
Underexposing your photos can create a dark, serious mood. Overexposure tends to be airy and energetic. Play with a range of exposures to find out what works.
Use shutter drags to give the illusion of movement. This works well at parties and other locations with ambient lighting.
Working with backlighting can also be interesting. People are often drawn to images that feature dark silhouettes.
Having unlimited storage space for your lighting trials is a benefit of digital photography. Take your time and be open to trying new techniques.
Don’t Be Afraid of Details
Detail shots are often surprising and delightful. Instead of taking a full-body image of your subject, focus on their shoes or hands. Maybe they are wearing interesting jewelry that showcases their unique personality.
A macro lens is an excellent tool for nature photography. Take a closer look at plants and insects and show your fans what they are missing from a distance.
Offer a New Perspective
Finding a new perspective can breathe new life into a dull photo. Instead of photographing your friends head-on, use a drone to highlight life from above. If you prefer low-tech methods, climb up a stairwell to achieve a similar effect.
Try the opposite approach by laying down in the grass to snap some pictures. Your subjects will seem larger than life, and your photos will have a joyful, childlike perspective.
Find Your Focus
Not every image has to be perfectly clear. Use your focus strategically. Depth of field settings make it possible to blur the background or keep everything sharp.
For a portrait, you might choose to keep the surroundings fuzzy. This will direct the attention to your model’s face.
If you are photographing home decor, it makes sense to keep everything in focus. Viewers will want you to paint a complete picture of the space.
Remember These Tips for What Makes a Good Photograph
Now that you know what makes a good photograph, go out and practice. Take a walk around your neighborhood or visit a local park. You don’t have to go far to find interesting subjects.
If you’re passionate about taking pictures, you’ll learn and grow. Your photos will improve over time. With enough experience, you might even be able to turn your hobby into a career.
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