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7 Tips to Taking Fantastic Photos

I am a firm believer that the best camera is the one in your hand. Yes, good gear is fun and maybe even necessary for certain perspectives (like underwater), but it has ZERO connection to creating a good photograph. That all comes down to how you SEE things.

It’s like this – thinking a certain camera is responsible for creating a photo is like saying the pots and pans should be credited for a great meal instead of the chef. It’s all about the person behind the creation knowing how to best use their tools, no matter the medium.

Whether you are using your phone, a point and shoot pocket camera, or a big DSLR or mirrorless camera, these tips can help improve the photos you take!

Get started and have fun with it! (And don’t forget #6.)

1. Frame Your Subject

Look around you for natural framing options. Use these details to give greater context to the story told through your photo.

You’ll often find that by slightly shifting YOUR view as a photographer, you can frame your subject naturally using elements already present in the foreground or background.

2. Use the Rule of Thirds

This is the golden rule of photo composition, which says that the focal point – the main subject – of a photo should fall on the lines created when you divide the photo frame in thirds, vertically and horizontally.

Simplified – move your focal point slightly off center and make use of blank space. (The grid on your camera or phone is a helpful reference.)

3. Where's the Light?

Photography is literally the capture of light!

These photos were taken within just a few minutes of each other, but the use of light is completely different.

Always be mindful of light position and shadow. Don’t discount the consistency and even light that cloudy days and shade can provide. And if you can shoot at Golden Hour, the results can be magical!

4. Change Your Perspective

Get down on a child’s level, use a different angle, even go aerial with a drone! Be creative and challenge your own perspective.

Story Behind the Shot: To get this shot of Cindy “rock climbing” in Budva, Montenegro, I actually laid down on the trail below, then zoomed in to cut out other scenery. She’s really only about four feet off the ground – it’s all about a different view!

5. Fill the Frame + Zoom with Your Feet, Not with Your Phone

Get up close with your subject, even try cropping part of it out of the frame.

While phone cameras have come A LONG way, don’t rely only on the zoom to get closer as it can affect your image quality. Even top quality DSLR or mirrorless telephoto lenses can have some distortion, so use your feet first to zoom when possible.

6. Take the Photos + Practice

There’s no substitute for experience! Get out there and put these tips to use.

I’m a HUGE believer in taking the photos and I am not a photo minimalist, BUT it is also absolutely key to use that delete button.

Do not keep every photo you ever take or you will be very overwhelmed. A Daily Delete or similar practice is super helpful. (+ I can help you!)

7. Be IN the Picture

Selfies, self-timers, remotes, and asking someone to take the photo are all valid and important ways to make sure you don’t just stay behind the camera. The BEST photos are ones that tell stories.

Make sure you’re included – I promise, you will never regret it!

(And start teaching the kiddos in your life as well!)

Get Started!

Give these tips a try and be sure to tag me on Instagram @ScissortailDigital. I love to see your photos!

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Hi, I'm Lisa

Photos have always brought me joy and are one of my favorite mediums for storytelling. But let’s be honest, the sheer volume of digital photos we all have can be overwhelming! It’s my goal through Scissortail Digital to help you tell your stories and improve the ways you work with your photos.

Learn more…

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