Frame it up: Five tips to shooting better photos

Ever wonder how someone with the same camera always seems to get better shots? Here are some quick tips to improving your pictures, just change what the camera sees before even hitting the shutter button.
By , Last updated on: 5/18/2014

Good photos often don't center the subject and sometimes use objects in the foreground to add interest.

Taking great pictures is about more than just having a good camera―expert photographers can take some pretty awesome shots with simple point and shoots and rookies can take some pretty awful shots with expensive equipment. An easy way to upgrade the quality of your photos―no matter what camera you have―is to alter what you see in the viewfinder before the photo is even snapped. Here are five quick tips for framing better shots.

  • Change up your perspective. Most people tend to take pictures at their eye level automatically. To put a different spin on things, change your height. Kneel or climb higher to create a different feel to your images. Professional photographers aren't afraid to climb a tree or belly crawl to get that perfect shot.

  • Don't always center your subject. Take a look through a professional's photo gallery―chances are, in most of their images, the subject isn't dead center. Instead, imagine the picture is divided into thirds and place the subject on one of those lines. Check your camera settings, many models with electronic viewfinders have guide grids that can be turned on and off. Placing the subject off center adds interest and emphasis to the image.

  • Get up close. Whether you are snapping shots of a newborn or a landscape, get in a little closer then normal; take a picture of just the baby's feet or a flower within the scenery. Macro shots help capture the details that otherwise may go unnoticed.

  • Take a step back. Get a variety of photos by not only snapping some close ups, but some scenes a little father back. Instead of taking a picture of just a child's face, take a whole body shot while they play in an interesting environment.
  • Explore. Great photos are often taken before or after the moment when most people have their cameras out. Snap photos of getting ready for prom or take a picture of a sleeping birthday kid after all the guests have left.

  • Get a different perspective by stepping back for a landscape shot, like this one of a golf course.

  • Add an object to the foreground. While keeping the subject in focus, add an object to the front of the photo. Snapping a photo of a boy in a sandbox? Add a bucket in front off to one side. Taking a landscape shot? Include some out of focus foliage at the front to add dimension.

American depression-era photographer Dorthea Lange described the camera as “an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Great photographs will do that by using a unique perspective. Next time you take that camera out of it's bag, think about what you are seeing through the viewfinder and how you could achieve a better photo simply by using a different angle.


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