How To Take a Photo Like a Pro

Victor Hanacek/picjumbo

Trying to capture a magic moment in a photograph is not always easy. Most of the time what your eye sees and what your viewfinder sees are two very different pictures. Sometimes, it even feels like you cannot even capture the moment, as the photo just won’t do it any justice.

We’ve all been there. You’re showing your bestie the pictures you took over your weekend away in the mountains, exclaiming how breathtaking the views were and her response is not what you expected. You reassure her that she definitely had to be there to appreciate it, and to an extent, that’s true. But what’s stopping you from capturing your magic moment and conveying it successfully to friends, family, social media or even your blog?

Here are some great tips, from one amateur to another, that can help you get your perfect picture:

Use the rule of thirds. This is one of the oldest photography tricks in the book. This means that if you divide your frame in three, horizontally and vertically, you place your focal point to be over the cross sections of the imaginary grid. This allows the eye to follow seamlessly to the subject or object you are photographing.

Be mindful of lighting. The best time of day to take a photo is when the sun is out but not at full exposure. Choose early mornings and late afternoons if you want Mother Nature to set the tone for you. Photographers sometimes refer to late afternoon time as the "golden hour" – when the sun is soft and well… golden. Also, try to make use of natural lighting at all times, unless you have access to professional lighting equipment.

Your smart phone is your best friend. You actually don’t need fancy equipment, unless it becomes your job. Most smartphones come equipped with really good quality cameras with anything from 8 megapixels and up. The iPhone6 for example, comes with an improved sensor and focus technology. This means you can take great quality pictures, and its convenient. Everywhere and everything is a potential photo. Check out these amazing photos taken with a phone camera.

Try different angles and take lots of pictures. It’s not uncommon for professional photographers to take hundreds and even thousands of pictures of the same object or subject. You can do the same. Play around with angles, get a ladder, roll on the floor, do whatever it takes to get a great photo.

Take your background into consideration. You don’t want to be taking a great picture that is later spoiled by a trashcan or a dirty drain. Unless it was your intention to convey a specific message, then be mindful of that background. You can also use it to your advantage, like when you’re at the beach, then use the background to maximise the quality of your photos.

Stop waiting for the perfect moment. When taking photos of your loved ones and pets, its best to just shoot away. Unless they will sit still for you, the best pictures come from taking many photos while you are all playing at the park, going for a walk or engaging in some sort of fun activity.

Choose the right viewpoint for a landscape.  As mentioned earlier, what you see and what the picture comes out as can be very different.  Therefore, your viewpoint is most important. Late master photographer Michael Buselle wrote that “many inexperienced photographers will shoot their picture  from the place where they were first aware of the picture, but when time allows, it pays to explore all the viewpoint possibilities”. 

Selfies. It would be safe to say that most of us have taken a selfie. Some people are so good at it, their Instagram feeds are only that – selfies. If you are taking a photo of yourself take all the above into consideration, but also get creative with your pose. Lifestyle photographer Alexa Miller, suggests in an article by Korin Miller that tilting your head is a good start and try creative angles with your body; just look at any celeb on the red carpet and you’ll know what she means.

And lastly, practice makes perfect.