Tips for beginning photographers to help guide you through the essentials of making a good photo.
Person up on a lightpost kicking a soccer ball above a cityscape

These guidelines are for you if you’re a beginning photographer or if you need a refresher on the basics of making a good photograph. Practice these techniques whenever you’re photographing, and soon they’ll become second nature. 

Light

Before you click the shutter, take a look at the light in the scene. Knowing the source, direction, and color of the light will help you predict what effect the light will have on your photo.

“Know light for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” – George Eastman

Composition

  • Compose your photo before you shoot. If you don’t have time to compose in camera, take a wide shot so you have lots of leeway to crop later in Photoshop.
  • Learn the traditional rules of composition. Then explore what happens when you break those rules.

Exposure

  • Take some time to learn your camera’s exposure controls. Use exposure compensation on your camera to set up quickly for a brighter or darker exposure.
  • Take more than one shot. If you’re working with a camera that has manual controls, bracket your exposures for extra exposure insurance.
Photo of a peaceful river scene showing three different exposure settings

Sharpness

  • Avoid camera shake by shooting at faster shutter speeds or using a tripod.
  • If you don’t have a tripod with you, use your body as a tripod by holding the camera firmly with both hands, leaning against a structure, and taking a wide stance.
Side by side images of a cow with one side blurry and the other in focus

Story

A dynamic photograph is one that tells a story. Know what you want to communicate with a photograph. Wait for the right moment. Take a lot of photographs and edit them down to those that tell your story.

“There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.” – George Eastman

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