Basic Photo Tips and Techniques

Tip #1:

There are many things to learn to master photography. What is an easy way to learn the basics? Visit the following Internet sites and take advantage of the free tips and tutorials:

Kodak Guide to Better Pictures


Kodak Taking Great Pictures pages


Photo Tips from York Photo


For a good site to review compostion try:


And for a site with a short tutorial about simplifying photo composition visit:

Take notes, or even better, print out the information and put it into a binder for frequent review.


Tip #2:

You know there are people all around you that can teach you more about taking good pictures. What can you do to get them to show you their best techniques?

Organize a photo safari!

Invite several photographers to go take pictures of a historic building, a park, classic cars, or whatever else interests you. Stay close to the better photographers, and discuss different ways to take the pictures.

After the pictures are developed, get back together to critique the results.

You will be surprised how much you can learn this way. And *everyone* enjoys it!


Tip #3:

Basic point and shoot cameras are similar to full featured cameras with wide-angle lenses. Point and shoot cameras with zoom features are similar to full featured cameras with wide angle to telephoto zooms. These cameras are ideal for landscape pictures, group portraits, city scapes, and many other types of pictures.

As you look at photo displays, look for the ones that were made using wide-angle or moderate focal length lenses. Concentrate your efforts on one or two of these picture types.

Teach yourself to work with your camera's strengths and limitations, rather than being bound by them.


Tip #4:

Lets discuss something that can make an improvement in ALL your pictures! Todays cameras are much better in quality than cameras of the past. But your pictures may not be much better. So, lets look at another thing that can have a big effect here. Change your film!

Try one of the enhanced color films such as Kodak Royal Gold or Fuji Supereria. These films give you colors that are more vivid than the actual colors of the things you photograph. These films will give your pictures that extra snap to get people's attention.

If you already use these films or comparable slide films, try one of the professional films (such as Kodak Portra Vivid Color 400) made by your favorite film company. It can make a big difference.


Tip # 5:

One important thing I have learned in my years as a photographer is that perception *IS* reality! And, as with any subject, a little emphasis on the right information can improve your reputation.

Do just like a dog breeder, who takes his best champions to a show. He would never take ALL his dogs...

When you get photographs back from the processing lab, take out the best photos, and put the rest away. Show just those good photos to others.

This immediately improves your image as a good photographer, with no extra work on your part.


Tip #6:

Want to add some pizazz to flat and boring landscape or scenic photos?

Position the camera so that some grass, weeds, or tree limbs intrude very slightly at the bottom, at one or both edges, or at the top of the viewfinder.

Make sure this object is close to the camera if possible, preferably within 4 feet.

This will "frame" the scenic picture with an out-of-focus patch of color and give the picture depth and a more artistic quality.


Tip #7:

Sometimes you will see an otherwise great picture that has a tree, light post, or other distracting object right behind the people, seeming to grow from their heads! How do you prevent this?

When you get ready to take your picture, prepare to take the picture in two steps:

1. Position the people and frame them in the viewfinder.

2. Then, ignore the people and carefully examine everything in the background (still looking through the viewfinder), looking for anything that would seem out of place or intrusive. Reposition the camera or the people until the background is perfect.

Then re-pose your subjects and take your picture.


Tip #8:

Simplify the family group photo by moving everyone to an area with a plain background. Then move in closer so that the outside edge of the group of people is just at the edge of your viewfinder.

This technique will reduce distracting background objects and focus the viewers attention on the people.


Tip #9:

Now lets tackle the problem of boring portraits of Aunt Ellie and Uncle Josh. The plain background approach doesn't seem to work with them because they are not very photogenic.

Jaz up a boring people photo by including *just one* related object in the photo. Pose him/her or them (no more than three people) in front of or beside their car or in front of a favorite area of the house.

But be sure not to clutter up the background with too much detail. Keep it simple.


Tip #10:

One of my favorite types of photography is wildlife photography.

Here is a technique that allows the average person to get involved in wildlife photography without investing thousands of dollars and weeks of time, and that works for even midrange point and shoot cameras with a zoom feature.

Put a bird feeder just outside one of your windows. If there are no natural limbs or branches for the birds to perch on near the window, securely install a dead limb just in front of the window to make a natural looking perch.

Make a fitted covering for the window from cheap cloth to act as a removable blind and cut a hole in it a little bigger than the size of the camera lens. Carefully position your camera at the window-blind on a tripod. Check often to see when birds are in the area.

Take your prize-winning pictures!

Copyright 1998, 1999 David E. Price