Four Tips to Creating Great Photos

Tubes in Deep Creek North Carolina

1. Great light makes great photos:

This makes sense when you remember that pictures are made by the light hitting the sensor in your camera (or the film if you are old school). The best time of day to take photos outside is called the golden hour- there are two in every day (except cloudy days) the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. This is when the sunlight has a golden hue, like in the photo above.

2. Keep it simple:

Eliminating distractions makes for a more pleasing image. 

1. Try getting above your subject and looking down only including the ground or floor in the background.

2. If you can’t get high, get low… try getting on the ground and looking up including the sky in the picture.


Boy playing soccer
I was lying in the ground for this shot. Notice how the lights and other distracting  elements in the park disappear?

3. Get close. Fill your frame with the subject. This eliminates things that aren’t important and makes the viewer feel more connected with the subject. Get really close and photos more interesting because we don’t normally see things this way.

playing banjo
In this photo I eliminated distractions by getting close to my son’s hand. This image is fuzzy on the edges because I was playing with a method called free lensing. I removed the lens from the camera and held it in front of the camera to create the blurring effect. Blurring the background is a great way to draw attention to the subject.

3. Use the rule of thirds:

We naturally want to put our subjects in the middle of the frame, but placing the subject on one of the lines that divides the frame into thirds creates a more pleasing composition. Many cameras will display a grid over your LCD screen helping you find the sweet spot of where the horizontal and vertical thirds intersect. I have one on my iPhone camera right now.

4. Use leading lines:

Leading lines are objects in the scene that lead your eye to the subject (the rocks below). This is why you see way too many portraits of people on railroad tracks!

Tubes in Deep Creek North Carolina
Putting it all together. This photo was shot at the golden hour, the tubes fill the upper third of the frame (the blue lines are dividing the frame into thirds). I tilted the camera down to show the water instead of the distracting campground in the background. I also used the line of rocks to lead your eye into the subject.

Try these techniques and I think you will be pleased with the results. Share some of your work in the comment section and don’t be a stranger! Complete the form in the footer and sign up for my mailing list to be notified of future posts. I will not share your information!

Future blog posts will include:

  • Documentary Family Photography: what it is and why it is important
  • Tips on planning your Christmas card photos…. yes it will be here before we know it!
  • How to free lens
  • How to take better iPhone photos
  • How to get a blurred background in your images
  • Tips on taking pictures of the fall foliage (I’m hoping to get to the mountains to get examples).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *