Thursday, December 21, 2017

Five Photograph tips

I got a call from the local community foundation today. They saw one of my pictures that I posted earlier in the month and asked permission to use the picture for an upcoming Smithsonian Exhibit. I don't know the details, but I said, of course, they could use the photograph. It's the one I posted on December 6th.

I've been taking pictures for most of my adult life. When I worked for The Community News when I got out of the Army in 1973, one of my main duties was developing film and printing pictures. Dale Short, my mentor was a photographic prodigy. He taught me how to look at the light and how to use the camera's settings to get a good exposure. 

It took a lot of trial and error but I finally got better at making "technically" good photographs. It would have taken a professional photographer to have found fault with my f-stop and aperture settings.  But there's a difference in a "technically" good photograph and a good photograph. No "setting" will help you take a good photograph. It took me a long time to understand that taking decent pictures is more about seeing that any setting on a camera. I've said this before, but I can thank my lovely spouse for helping me to understand this.

So in the spirit of sharing, here's my top 5 list for making better photographs.

5. It better when the sun is behind the photographer's shoulders than it is for it to be behind the subject's shoulders...unless you're shooting a silhouette.

4. Less is more. It's not important to take in the WHOLE scene. Just put what's important in your picture.

3. If you're shooting a landscape, put something in the edge of the frame to give the picture depth.

2. If you're taking pictures of people, take several shots. People blink. A perfect picture will be useless if the subject has their eyes closed.

1. Focus more on your subject than on technical perfection. An imperfect picture can be an award winner if the subject shines.

Old red barn pain provides contrast to moss on a cornerstone.


  1. I learned that I am not a Photomate. In the military (USN) I worked with Photomates. I bought what one said was a good 'cheap' NIkon. CHEAP? To take a good picture takes patience as well as knowledge of all those 'NUMBERS' etc. on the camera. LOL I never did get the hang of it, but DID LEARN to appreciate those that did know that STUFF! ;-)

  2. I am a happy snapper rather than a photographer, but appreciate your tips. Thank you.

  3. My photos are hit and miss. My daughter likes me to photographer her alot. But when the sun is behind me it makes her squint. I think photos of people are best not posed. Thanks for the tips. I take a lot of food photos. Nutrisystem has used some of them in their social ads. But Ive never been asked to take some professionally . That would be awesome.

  4. Congrats for having your picture chosen for the exhibit, and thanks for the tips!

  5. I have learned to take lots of pictures of the grand children...they do a lot of blinking and more and it usually takes more than one shot for sure. Nice one of your pictures was chosen. Sounds like they know a job well done when they see it.

  6. Congratulations on having your photo chosen for the upcoming Smithsonian Exhibit and thanks for the tip.
    Hugs, Julia

  7. thanks for the tips. Julia

  8. Good advice. I am not a good picture taker. Perhaps this will help a little.

  9. Anonymous11:45 AM

    I've found that people with an artist's eye "see" a picture before they shoot it. I'm pretty sure that's what you do!!

  10. Congrats on your photo being chosen for the Exhibit! (Fingers crossed, it's the hobby horse.)

    Years ago I'd a shiny new Canon and enrolled in a photography class.
    But after being criticized time and again, I finally put it away. Your tips are far more humane! :)

  11. When I was a newspaper reporter, sometimes I had to take photos for my stories. I quickly learned the one about having the sun behind me. One time I needed a group shot on a very sunny day. I lined up the people the way I wanted them while they complained about the sun. I told them to close their eyes and when I shouted OPEN, they opened their eyes and I snapped the photo. It turned out well. But the Smithsonian. Now that's exciting. Keep us posted, please.


  12. Great tips. Thanks for sharing.


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