Ten ways to make your photos better


As more and more word journalists  learn to produce multimedia, I thought I’d share my top ten list of ways to make your photos better.  I give a copy to each of my Intro to Photojournalism students to refer to throughout the quarter. Everyone is familar with the process of photography, but few really understand the nuance of how to see a good photo.

  • Get closer. The biggest mistake photographer’s make is that they don’t get close enough to their subjects. The old  Robert Capa saying: “If your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”
  • Know your camera intimately. Too many good photos are lost to poor exposures and out of focus negatives. Get a feel for how your camera meters a scene. Use manual exposure when the lighting is contrasty or subject is backlit. Practice focusing on moving cars and people. Think “focus, focus, focus” as you’re hitting the shutter. Your photography can’t improve until you feel comfortable with your camera.
  • Four corners. As you compose a photograph run your eyes around the outside edges of the viewfinder, checking to make sure your not cropping someone’s head off or that there is not some unwanted element coming into your picture.
  • Anticipation/Seeing. Look for the “magic moment.” Be ready to push the shutter before the moment happens. Pre-visualize.  Ask yourself “what could happen” Watch body language and facial expressions.
  • Composition. Look for angles and camera placement that adds drama to the photo. Don’t just put your subject in the center of the frame. Think left or right of center. Will negative space help your photo, or will getting closer be better? Look for leading lines into subject.
  • Lens selection. Wide angle helps show subjects in their environment. Telephoto compresses the scene making the subject “pop.”  Know which lens will work best for a scene.
  • Perspective. Get on your knees or climb a tree. Most people see the world from eye level. Take the viewer of your photograph someplace where they’ve never been. It will make your pictures instantly more interesting.
  • Shoot layers of information. By layering your pictures with info they become more powerful and the message is stronger. They have an instant wow factor. Use foreground and background elements to create a message. This is the tough to master. It is mature seeing.
  • Read the light. Photography is all about light. Learn to see it; Understand how light can set a mood in a photo. Even when you are not photographing something look at the quality of the light around you. Is it warm, cool, side lit?
  • Have something to say with your photography. Your pictures are a reflection of you. Your photography is how YOU interpret the world around you. Find passion in your love for photography.

3 thoughts on “Ten ways to make your photos better

  1. Pingback: Better digital photos « newstraining

  2. Pingback: Cool Links #66: The Web is Everywhere But Our Schools « TEACH J: For Teachers of Journalism And Media

  3. I am not much of a photographer. I am a multimedia programmer instead. But I do snap photos once in a while. And thanks for these tips. Really useful. I will keep them in mind.

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