No matter how many pictures you take with your camera, if you don’t use your brain, they will look very ordinary. Therefore here is an article to learn how to make great shots.
Note : This is a résumé of the first chapter of Joel Sartore’s Fundamentals of Photography, a video course available here. If you are interested in taking better pictures, I highly recommend it.
Rule of three
A great pic is about three things :
- great light,
- great composition,
- something interesting.
1. Great light
Of course great light often is found at sunset and at sunrise. But you can make great pictures in an overcast day too. Shadows are smooth and light is soft. Just remember that shooting portraits of people squinting in harsh summer light won’t get you good results. So choose what to shoot according to the light of the moment, which is different each and every day.
2. Great composition
This one is a bit more tricky. Composition is about the subject of your picture, the space around it, the background and the way you shoot it altogether.
So try to get a better background. Get closer, or more remote to include something in the picture. Try new angles. Climb upstairs, crouch or get behind a window to create a frame around your subject. The key is to move around your subject to find the best composition.
3. Something interesting
A great picture is not necessarily about something rarely shot, like an endangered species or an amazing car. It’s also about going way beyond the original situation. You can shoot great pictures everywhere! Even in your own backyard. No need to travel far. For example, if you’re shooting your dog in your garden, it may result in ordinary and boring pictures. But if you’re shooting it in an interesting situation, like jumping to catch a ball in the morning light, it will give you better images to show.
To sum up the rule of three, a great picture is made when what you see becomes bigger than the original situation. So, go way beyond the original situation. Make it epic!
Good pictures and gear
Making great shots is not about the gear. Or the money you put in it. It’s about thinking critically and seeing well. Without using your eyes and brain, even the fanciest camera won’t get you a good picture.
And remember that control buttons are easy to master. You just have to read the manual of your camera. Seeing well is the real challenge.
But still, master the basic control buttons, so, no matter the camera you’re using, you’ll be able to get good pictures.
Always have a camera with you…
If something interesting is happening, you’ll be able to take great pictures… But only if you carry a camera with you. Always have a camera with you : a DSLR, a point and shoot or a smartphone.
… but don’t shoot everything!
If you’re shooting an important event of your personal life, you’re missing it. And later you’ll probably regret it. Sometimes, it’s wiser just to put the gear down and enjoy the moment.
Learn from others
Now, the next time you see a great picture, ask yourself these questions :
- Why is it a good shot?
- How did the photographer manage the light of the moment?
- How is the image composed? What is in the background?
- What is the subject and what makes it interesting?
To sum up this article, taking better photos is about using your eyes and brain to solve visual problems.