This article originally appeared on Angie’s List here.
Understanding these photography basics helps aspiring photographers take good pictures.
1. Establish rapport
Talk to your subject before picking up the camera. Make him or her feel comfortable. Your subject won’t like an image in which he or she looks stiff and uncomfortable.
2. Wait for the moment
Rather than simply firing off 10 shots of the same subject, wait for the best moment. For example, if your subject is talking, wait until he or she stops talking and smiles or laughs before pressing the shutter.
This photo uses tips 2, 4, 7 and 10. I had the girls sit down in a location with a clean background. I lay down on the ground to get on eye level with the girls. I zoomed in and selected an aperture that would beautifully blur the trees in the background while still retaining sharpness in both girls’ eyes. And then… I waited for the moment.
3. Don’t be afraid to get close
To create drama in your image, you may need to be intimate — to get really, really close to your subject. You’ll be surprised at how you can sometimes create a much more interesting photograph by literally getting in your subject’s face and zooming out.
4. Blur your background
Draw attention to your subject by creating an image in which your subject is sharply in focus, while the foreground and background are blurred. Use the widest aperture of your lens to get the blurriest background. Zooming in, getting closer to your subject and moving your subject farther from the background can also help to blur your background.
5. Focus on the eyes
The eyes are the windows to the soul, and that’s where you’ll usually want to focus. For a more “comfortable” image, your subject should also be looking into the picture rather than out of it.
6. Know the rule of thirds
While rules are meant to be broken, you’ll usually want to place your subject’s eyes at an intersection of thirds. To do so, divide the rectangular viewfinder with two vertical lines and two horizontal lines and place your subject at one of the intersections.
7. Change your perspective
Get down low. Get up high. Circle your subject. Zoom in and out with your feet. This is how you’ll get images that’ll make people stop and look twice. And especially with children, get down to their eye level.
8. Be creative with silhouettes
Rather than follow the rule to never face the sun directly, break the rule and place your subject so that the light is directly behind him or her.
9. Emphasize your subject using lines
Use leading lines to direct the viewer’s eye. Sometimes there are natural elements in the background that form multiple lines. Place your subject such that the lines lead to him or her. Or, place your subject in the spot where all of the lines converge.
This photo highlights tips 1 and 9. As we walked around, I got to know my subject. I asked him questions about himself and about the need for these photographs, for a magazine article, to get him excited and make him feel relaxed and comfortable. Then I placed him on a background with lots and lots of lines. The lines point at him and direct the viewer.
10. Know your camera and the fundamentals
Have an expensive camera that you don’t know how to use? Confused by terms like aperture and shutter speed? Photography is a craft that takes time and energy to learn.
Don’t expect to become an expert photographer overnight. Instead, take the time to read your camera manual, take a photography class, and practice, practice, practice.