New Photographer Tips

Digital cameras have made taking digital pictures more accessible to the general public. Advancements in technology have made it possible for people with very little knowledge of actual photography to take nice looking pictures in point-and-shoot fashion.

In this course we will go beyond simply pointing and shooting. To take good pictures you must be aware of exactly how you are taking the picture. Believe it or not, a great picture requires time, thought and preparation. It is rare to take great pictures “on-the-fly”. The following tips will help you start your journey into taking great photographs.

Be Patient… Take Your Time

Remember that when trying to take a great photo, your greatest enemy is impatience. If you don’t take the time to explore your surroundings and your subject (the object or person whom you are photographing) you will never achieve great photos. If you never leave your own comfort zone you will never achieve what you are capable of.

Portrait Vs. Landscape

A classic rookie mistake is taking all photos in landscape orientation. All you have to do avoid this problem is turn the camera every once in a while. This may not seem like it is very important, but when we get to creating design layouts for our yearbook, you will be very thankful that you have photos in both orientations as it will give you much more flexibility in the size and shape of photo boxes that you will be able to include in your page layouts.

Arrive Early & Plan Ahead

If you plan for a photograph you will get a better shot. This will require some thought about what it is that you want the picture to say. This is especially true if you are taking pictures of people. If you arrive early to each event you will have the chance to take some sample shots and find the best place to be. You can also talk to your subjects about the type of photos you will need and enlist their cooperation.

Sometimes, it is impossible to get the photos you need without planning ahead. Consider the photo below. It would have been impossible to get this photo without making advanced plans with the hockey coach for a photographer to be on ice during practice. The photographer had to bring skates and a helmet and find the best position to take the photo from. A photo of this quality does not happen from the stands.


Don’t be a Wallflower!

If you don’t get right into the action, you will not get the shots you want. As a photographer, you can’t be afraid to get up close and personal with your subjects. If you are at a crowded event and you’re worried about getting in the audience’s view, don’t be! It is your job to document this event and people in the crowd understand this. If anyone questions you, simply tell them that you are the school yearbook photographer and that will usually get them to back off.

Wall Flower Photos



Engaged Photographer


Focus is key

Always make sure that the camera has focused before you take the picture. There is nothing worse than an out of focus picture that you thought would be great.



Get Close Up For Effect

Photographing from far away can present some challenges for lighting, and usually takes the emphasis away from the subject you are photographing. Using a close-up shot can give the viewer of your picture a better understanding of what you want to convey.



Think differently

If you think normally, your pictures will be normal. Have fun… experiment… Try different angles, perspectives, subjects, camera settings, time of day. A good strategy to use is after taking each photo, take the same photo in a different way. You might surprise yourself with what you come up with!



Be Aware of Light

Light is a very important thing to consider when you are taking a photo. Light can make or break your photos. If used properly you can create some very neat effects with light and shadows. If disregarded, it can pose some serious problems for capturing even a decent shot.


When shooting outdoors, try to avoid sunlight directly into the lens (washed out).


When photographing people, try to avoid having them looking directly into the sunlight (squinting) and also avoid photographing them with shadows across their face.


Finally, when taking photos outdoors, be sure to watch out for your own shadow which can change the lighting of whatever you are photographing.


Natural Light can be used purposely for creative shots


You can also use light to create shadows for effect



Taking photos indoors can present the biggest lighting challenges. A lack of light will result in grainy or blurry photos. Using an external flash can help you avoid this problem. A good rule of thumb is:

If the subject of your photo is more than 10 feet away, use an external flash.

No Flash Used
External Flash Used

You should also be very cautious of the position of light while shooting indoors. Having a light or reflective surface in the background can result in washed out pictures.

Light in Background
Not BackLit

Your ASSIGNMENT is to use these ideas to take some photos where you have to spend some time planning and thinking about things like light, being patient, being an engaged photographer (NOT a wallflower), and most importantly, thinking differently. Spend some time looking for interesting spots, people, action, or angles. Make sure that you take your time and get the best possible shot by remembering those considerations.


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