5 Tricks for Taking Great Photos


I’ve owned a full frame camera for over 5 years. I’ve acquired 3 lenses and snapped many thousands of photos. And yet, last week I discovered these five tricks and was shocked by my ignorance of them.

While watching a lesson on incorporating images in website designs, my instructor presented these five qualities of great images.

The Five Qualities of Great Images:

  1. There should be one obvious subject in an image.
  2. The subject must be well lit and in focus.
  3. The center of the subject must be framed on a horizontal third or a vertical third or both.
  4. There needs to be a flow of energy in the photo for your eyes to follow, ideally towards the subject.
  5. The background must not be distracting.

Let me break these down with my own experience.

1. A Single Subject

I take pictures of landscapes and I often make the mistake of having no clear subject. Pick a cool tree or one of the buildings or the giant rock. It can be anything, but you must choose it. If you’re photographing a group of things, make a one or a few of them the clear protagonists of the image.

2. Well Lit and In Focus

This seems obvious, but I have taken otherwise great pictures where the people’s faces are a complete shadow. If I had only moved them a little into the light.

3. Rule of Thirds

I learned part of this in film school, but now it’s hitting home. Divide the frame into thirds vertically and horizontally. Place your subject where those lines intersect. It looks pro.

4. Find the Movement

This was brand new to me but so true! There needs to be a flow of energy through the photo. A path for eyes to follow. Ideally, the energy flows to the subject. For example, lines on the horizon, trunks of trees, the stem of a flower, or a long shadow. Lines. Paths. Flow. Motion. It’s a subtle thing. When photos have this “movement” in them, they just feel good, but most of us can’t say why. This is why!

5. Clean Background

The subject should stand out from the background. Anything busy or random in the background is going to take away from that sweet shot.

So next time you snap a pic:

  1. Pick a subject
  2. Light it up
  3. Find the flow
  4. Simplify the background
  5. Frame it in thirds
  6. Snap

These came from Erik Kennedy in his online course Learn UI Design. Thanks Erik!

Thanks for Reading

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