OK, so you’ve taken a smartphone photo or two, but you’re not really impressed with how they’ve come out. You want to do a better job, because reasons and opportunities to take a quick pic abound, both personally and professionally.
This article, “15 tips for improving your photos and videos” by Russell Working (@ByWorking) offers great ideas from professional photographers on how to take better pictures and videos. As a writer, I should probably be alarmed by shrinking attention spans and the resulting popularity of visual communication, but hey, you gotta move with the times. And besides, I believe that visuals and words have always complemented each other. Look at screenplays and infographics. But I digress.
Mr. Working presents 15 tips; I’m going to go for my five most favorite. For more good ideas, read his article, which is worth the five minutes it will take you.
- Get up close. This advice came from Robert Capa, a renowned war photographer who stepped on a landmine and died. You’re not likely to run those risks, and I think there’s no denying that the closer you get, the more dramatic/effective your shots will be.
- Fill the frame. This is great advice when you’re photographing a person, your CEO or 100-year-old Great Aunt Nellie, for example. One photographer advises not to put your subject’s head at the center of the frame, which, in my opinion, would be deer-in-the-headlights.
- Leverage light. What this means is moving your subject near the light, though not into direct sunlight. You want to avoid those dull, murky-looking shots where your subject sort of gets lost. One photographer recommends putting a window at the back of the shot. (Just watch out for the halo effect, which famously earned former PM David Cameron a certain amount of mockery.)
- Vary settings. People love novelty, so try both formal and informal settings. Informal settings humanize your subject, though I recommend avoid those fakey “human” shots such as the one of President Trump at the wheel of a huge truck.
- Go for different angles. Shoot from above, shoot from below. One photographer points out that if you kneel or lie on the ground, “buildings will appear taller and more majestic.” If are above your subjects—say for a group photo—you “avoid unflattering squatting poses.”
I’m a terrible smartphone photographer, though I plan to improve. What I like about this form of photography is that it feels unintimidating. Smartphone cameras are better than ever, and people have taken some gorgeous pictures with them. I’ve come to realize that I’ll likely never buy that big expensive Pentax that my Uncle Ernie pulled out on every possible occasion. Fast, friendly, and accessible is the key here, and I think most of us are up for that.