How to Shoot Better Photos

Author: Ian Langenhuysen (Photography by Ian Langenhuysen)

Photo content is becoming increasingly important in today’s digital media world, we are constantly looking for ways to catch the viewer’s eye and hold their attention. With the Facebook Ticker and Timeline changes creating visually stimulating content is a must. Whether you are shooting on a DSLR, point and shoot or your camera phone - these 7 basic rules of photography composition will help you produce more dynamic images.

1.    The Rule of Thirds – The natural instinct for the everyday picture-taker is to put the subject smack-dab in the middle of the frame, but this doesn’t always create the most compelling pictures. The basic principle of the rule of thirds is to imagine dividing a picture into thirds both horizontally and vertically. The idea behind this is that if you place points of interest at the intersections your photo becomes more balanced and draws the viewer in more naturally.

2.    Balance Your Shots – When placing your subject off-center using the rule of thirds it can sometimes leave a void making the scene feel empty. Balance your image by filling the space with something of less importance.


3.    Use Diagonal Lines – Diagonal and leading lines help to draw your eyes deeper into the picture. Linear elements shot diagonally like roads, waterways and fences are generally perceived more dynamic than horizontally placed lines.


4.    Frame Your Shot – Take advantage of natural frames that might appear in your viewfinder. These can be anything from trees, branches and bushes to doorways and windows.


5.    Stay Simple & Get Close – Make sure your photos are not too busy, keep it simple and focus on your subject. Don’t be afraid to get close, often times close-up detail shots are more interesting than long shots.


6.    Perspective – Play with perspective to add impact to your photos. Try different things: crouch down or get above the subject, shoot through an archway. Shooting from above makes the subject feel smaller and powerless, and shooting below gives the subject a feeling of power.


7.    Break The Rules – Use the rules as guidelines, but they are not set in stone. Not everything needs to be on the thirds, or framed correctly. Experiment with your shots.


Camera Phone Tips - Today almost everyone has a camera phone. Shooting pictures with a small camera built into your phone can be tricky without many manual controls. Here are some basic tips to help you make the most of you camera phone pictures.

  1. Hold the camera steady - most camera phones do not have built in stabilizers.
  2. Watch the lighting - do not shoot directly into the sun or with too much sky in the shot; it will create a silhouette effect on your subject.
  3. Avoid using the zoom if possible - camera phones generally use a digital zoom, which degrades the image.
  4. Use both landscape and portrait mode - people have a tendency to only shoot hold the phone straight up, shoot both depending on the subject matter.
  5. Edit your photos – now that you have taken a great photo, use one of the seemingly infinite phone apps to add another dynamic.

My Top Five iPhone Camera Applications:

  1. Camera +
  2. Instagram
  3. Hipstamatic
  4. Color Splash
  5. Adobe Photoshop Express

Now that you are an expert, go out and shoot some awesome pictures!