As someone who loves to take pictures, but often feels like they could do better, you're not alone. Photography is an art form that can be learned, but it does take some practice. Here are our top 10 tips for taking good photos.
1. Forget resolution, think sensor size
Resolution is no longer the most important aspect of a digital camera. In fact, as technology has progressed, it's become one of the less important factors. What's more important today is the size of the camera's sensor. The larger the sensor, the more light it can capture, and the better the photo will be. That's why full frame cameras are so expensive and why most budding photographers don't need them. Anything APS-C or above is going to give you superb photos that will look great printed out at large size.
2. Zoom can help
Cameras with optical zoom can take pictures of things from a distance without losing any of the image quality. Smartphones have digital zoom, which just crops and enlarges the digital image, resulting in a loss of quality. Optical zoom is a lens system that moves the lens elements to bring the subject closer to the sensor. This is in contrast to digital zoom, which just enlarges the digital image, resulting in a loss of quality. A decent telephoto lens for a DSLR camera will offer zoom but without losing the quality, meaning you can zoom in even further digitally. For things like animal photography and sports photography, where you may not have time to think about setup, optical zoom can be really helpful in getting close without losing any detail.
3. Use RAW storage
When it comes to quality, the image file format isn't the only thing that matters. How you store your photos is also key. Most default camera settings save images as JPEGs, which compresses the photo and can result in some lost detail and clarity. By comparison, RAW files are stored in their original state, without any compression. This means you have more leeway to adjust the photo's brightness, contrast and color saturation without sacrificing quality. In other words, you can take a good photo that's a bit too dark or bright and correct it without ruining the image entirely. So if you're looking to step up your photography game, using RAW storage is a must.
4. Light it right
Photos are ultimately just a collection of light that's landed on the camera sensor and been translated into digital representations of the real scene. So it makes sense that, to take good photos, the first thing you should worry about is the light. And we're not saying get your flash on though, or turn on all the lights in a room, all that is artificial. It's all about natural light. One of the simplest yet most powerful light-related-tips to keep in mind is that it should be behind you. That way it illuminates what you're shooting and casts a nice shadow on your face, which can give your selfies an instant pro-look (think vloggers). If you can't move around to get the best light, use a reflector to bounce light off of another surface and onto your face—this can be anything from a white sheet to a piece of aluminum foil. Experiment with different angles and positions until you find what works best for you.
5. Frame by frame
Framing your shot is one of the most important parts of getting the best photo. Don't only think about what you're shooting, be that a person, an animal—the subject of your photo should be the star. The surround doesn't have to be beautiful to help, in fact it could be a distraction. You could be shooting a person against a brick wall, for example. In that case, use the rule of thirds to help compose your photo. Divide your frame into thirds (both vertically and horizontally) and try to place the subject off-center. This will make your photo more interesting and balanced.
6. Use bokeh
One of the great features of a DSLR camera or similar is its ability to create a powerful bokeh effect. This is a result of the camera’s large sensor and shallow depth of field. The shallow depth of field means that only part of the photo is in focus, while the background is blurred. And since the sensor is so large, even a little bit of blur can look great. This effect can be enhanced by using a lens with a large aperture (f/2.8 or lower). Many smartphone cameras now have Portrait mode which artificially creates this finish to make shots look more DSLR-like. While this is best for faces on smartphones, a DSLR can employ bokeh on anything in the foreground of a shot and still look great.
7. Go manual
Aperture, shutter speed and ISO are the three biggies you need to worry about when it comes to photography. If you're just starting out, it's best to leave your camera on automatic and let the software do the heavy lifting for you. However, as you get more comfortable with photography and want to start taking more control over your shots, learning how to use the manual settings is essential. Each of the three settings work together to create a correctly exposed photo. The aperture is the opening in the lens that lets in light. The shutter speed is how long the light is allowed to hit the sensor. The ISO is how sensitive the sensor is to light. When all three of these settings are working together, they create what's called an exposure. Going manual gives you control over each of these settings so that you can fine-tune your photos to get the results you're after.
8. Use a tripod
Surprisingly, one of the best ways to get high-quality photos is to use a tripod. It might seem like an unnecessary extra piece of equipment, but when it comes to sharp photos with a narrow depth of field, it's a total lifesaver. If you're shooting a portrait and want that beautiful blurry background, you need to keep your camera as still as possible. Tripods are perfect for this! Not only do they keep your camera still, they're also great for taking group shots or selfies without asking someone else to take the picture for you. And if you're feeling extra creative, you can use a tripod to mount your camera in interesting positions for unique shots.
9. Edit your shots
It's no secret that a well-edited photo can make all the difference. And with so many photo editing software options available, it can be tough to know which is the best for your needs. If you're just starting out, we recommend using an editing program that offers simplicity and ease of use. Most smartphones come with a built-in photo editor these days, and there are also plenty of great free options available online. For more advanced editing, you might want to consider a paid program like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. These software programs offer more sophisticated tools that can help you create truly stunning images. Editing your shots is the final step in taking great photos—so don't skip it!
10. Let the lens do the work
When it comes to photography, the lens you use is just as important as the settings on your camera. So, if you're looking to take your photos to the next level, it's time to invest in a good lens. If portrait shots are your thing, a prime lens is a good choice. Prime lenses have a fixed focal length, which means that you can't zoom in or out. However, they're typically of better quality than zoom lenses and they produce sharper images. If you've got a full frame camera, then consider investing in a more expensive lens – they make a big difference. But if you're using an APS-C or Micro Four Thirds camera, don't go too crazy on the lens expenses; those sensors only do so much.
Capturing memories through photos is one of the most cherished things we can do in life. By following these tips, you can help make sure your photos always look their best. From learning to maximize sensor size to taking advantage of natural light, these simple tips will have you snapping pictures like a pro in no time!
Don’t buy anything until you’ve read a review. Our expert reviews are the best way to know without a doubt that you are getting the right product for your needs. We only review products we think are worth.