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Photography Basics for Better Photos

You know that picture that every time you look at it, it takes you right back to that moment. You can smell the fresh mountain air, hear the music playing on the dance floor, and feel how soft your first puppy was. This is what photography is all about, capturing the moments you wish could last a lifetime. But if you’ve ever tried to snap that moment, you may know it’s not always that easy.

Photography is an art and skill that takes time to develop. Many of us turn to our cameras with doubt at our own ability. No matter where you are in your photography journey, there will always be more ways to learn and experiment.

photography basics intro

We’re highlighting a few photography basics to guide you on how to take better pictures — of the people you love, places you go, and the moments you want to make last.

Photography Basics for Better Photos

1. Clean Your Lens

Dust happens and some dust on the front of the lens can be harmless and even unnoticeable in your photos. However you’d be surprised at the difference in sharpness a clean lens will give you, compared to one with smudges. You can simply wipe your phone camera lens clean with a microfibre cloth. If neccessary add a drop of distilled water to get those really tough spots. If you use a DSLR lens it’s important to learn the proper cleaning steps first since these have a more involved cleaning process. Check out this video for a quick tutorial on how to clean your DSLR lens.

photography basics at the beach

2. To Zoom Or Not To Zoom

Whenever possible it’s always best to physically move your body closer to your subject before zooming, cropping, or other photo editing.  The more work your camera does to get closer, the lower the image resolution and quality your photo will have. First move toward your subject as far as you can, then utilize the zoom feature.

photography basics zoom

3. Consider Composition

A photography basic guideline for composition is symmetry. Symmetry creates consistency and balance between the two halves of the image. This brings a sense of wholeness and visual harmony to your photo. Try to have equal spacing surrounding your subject so that one side isn’t too cluttered.

photography basics symmetry

The rule of thirds is another photography basic to keep in mind. Imagine your frame contains a 3 x 3 grid- divided into equal thirds, both vertically and horizontally. Then use this visual guide to place the subject along those lines or at their intersection points. This keeps your photos interesting when symmetrical balance is out of the picture… literally. 

photography basics rule of thirds

4. Simple Portraits

Simple is key when taking a portrait or photo focused on people. Look for basic backgrounds that don’t distract from the main attraction. Find a wall or backdrop consisting of a simple color scheme and consistent texture. This will help you avoid unnecessary noise that will draw the viewer’s focus from the people and emotions that you’re capturing.

photography basics portraits

5. Shoot straight lines

Another photography basic is to have a steady foundation for your camera. This is an easy way to take a higher quality photo. There is no shame in using a tripod. If you don’t have a tripod available, lean against a stable object to steady your hands. You can also guide your own eye to take a straight photo by finding naturally occurring, perpendicular lines to align your frame. 

photography basics tripods

6. Avoid direct harsh light

Another very important photography basic for better photos is understanding light. Light and shadows give your images contrast and depth. When you shoot under harsh, direct light, it washes out your shadows, details, and contours of what’s around you. Instead, aim for “golden hour,” when the sun is rising or setting. Or, find a shadow to shoot within in order to create aesthetic angles and a softer glow.

photography basics lighting

If you found this guide to photography basics useful and are interested in learning more, check out our digital photography classes. The Digital Workshop Center offers a variety of classes for beginners to advanced with our instructor and local photography expert, Josh Hardin.  You will leave class with the skills and knowledge to capture that perfect picture. Contact us to join the next session!

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