10 essentials for capturing great photos

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10 essentials for capturing great photos

This blog post may contain affiliate links.  I may earn a small commission for any purchases made through these links. Click here for the disclosure statement.

All photos are original to the author unless otherwise noted. 

Close up of an elephant's eye - elements of a good photo feature image

Taking great photos requires both technical skills and artistic vision that captures the right moment and tells a story. While there are many elements that contribute to good photography, here are 10 essential elements that every photographer should keep in mind:

Take SIMPLE Pictures

Minimalist photography: Black and White Bridge

A well-composed, uncluttered photo is easier to interpret and can convey its message more effectively. A simple composition can be more powerful than a busy one; by paring down the number of elements in the frame, the photographer can emphasize the importance of each individual element. Photos with too many elements can be visually confusing and overwhelming, making it difficult for the viewer to appreciate the beauty of the scene.

However, that doesn’t mean that all photos should be minimalistic. Sometimes, a more complex composition can add interest and depth to an image. The important thing is to strike a balance between simplicity and complexity, and to use each appropriately.

Understand Composition Techniques

Landscape photography: Natural formations at Garden of The Gods Creates a Frame within A Frame

A well-composed photograph is pleasing to the eye and looks “natural.” It draws the viewer’s attention to the subject and emphasizes important details. In contrast, a poorly composed photograph is jarring and unattractive. The viewer’s eye does not travel smoothly around the image and the important details are lost. Good composition is essential to creating amazing photographs.

There are many techniques for composing an excellent photograph. Some of the most popular include the rule of thirds, leading lines, and frame within a frame.

Amazing Photos Need a Clear Subject

A photography subject can be anything the photographer chooses; it can be a person, an animal, a landscape, or even everyday objects. The best photographs have a strong, well-composed subject that is visually appealing. Choosing and framing the subject is what makes a work of art stand out from a snapshot.

Use Artifical and Natural Light To your Advantage

Urban Photography: Lights and shadows down an empty hallway demonstrate how light can make a compelling photo

Light is a photographer’s most important tool; it can determine the mood of a photo, bring out colors, bring attention to subtle details, and even create the illusion of movement. Bright sunlight can create harsh shadows, while diffused light can give a scene a softer, more romantic feel.

By understanding exposure and how different types of light can impact your photos, photographers can control the way their photos look and convey the message they want to communicate. Whether they are using natural or artificial light, photographers must always be cognizant of the role that light plays in photography.

Great Photos Don’t Need an Explanation

Action photography tells story of a black lab playing fetch

A photograph can capture a moment of time that is forever frozen in an image. It can tell a story or convey an emotion with no explanation. If you have to explain where or what the subject is, you have failed to deliver your vision. The ability to portray a story or meaning in a single frame that others can interpret in their own way is what makes photography such a powerful art form. The difference between snapshots and great photography is a clear subject that does not need an explanation, because it is already self-evident.

Powerful Images Evoke An Emotion

Street photography of a homeless man sleeping under a bench tells ironic story of society and homelessness

Emotion is critical to photography. The most impactful images can make you feel happy, sad, nostalgic, angry, or even scared. Photography tells a story and transport you to another place or time and can connect you to the subject of the photograph in a way that words cannot. When you see a good picture, it should make you stop and think, and maybe even see the world in a new light.

The Most Iconic Photos Tell a Story

White Volkswagen Beetle Driving a Colorado Scenic Byway

Photos capture a moment in time and tell a story that others can relate to or they can help preserve memories. An image can communicate an experience, whether it be happy, sad, exciting, or frightening. A photograph can document a significant event, such as a wedding or graduation, or it can simply capture a beautiful moment that you want to remember forever. In addition, photography document history and provides information about a historical event or time period. By telling a story, a photograph can serve as a reminder of our humanity and the importance of sharing our stories with others.

Amazing Pictures Show Contrast

Urban photography example of two buildings with contrasting geometry and textures

Often when people think of contrast in photography, they think of the difference between light and dark areas in an image. However, contrast can also refer to the difference between any two areas in an image, whether it’s a subject contrast between opposite subjects, or the color contrast between a blue sky and green trees. Contrast is important because it helps to create visual interest and depth in an image. It can also help to highlight certain details or draw attention to a particular subject. When used effectively, contrast greatly improves the overall impact of an image.

Details Make a Picture Come To Life

Macrophotography details of raindrops on a green leaf

In photography, it is often the details that are most noticeable and memorable. For example, the texture of a flower petal or the intricate pattern of a spider’s web can add interest and visual appeal. In addition, details can also help to tell a story or convey a mood. For instance, a close-up shot of a person’s worn hands can illustrate the hardships of manual labor, while a photo of a cracked sidewalk can convey the feeling of neglect and desolation. Ultimately, it is the photographer’s ability to capture these small yet significant details that separate great photography from merely good photography.

Adding Layers Creates BEAUTIFUL PICTURES

Landscape photo of a foggy sunrise demonstrates rule of thirds with horizon on the bottom third

Another way to create visual interest in an image is by including multiple layers. There are several ways to create layers in a photograph, including using foreground elements, different focal points, and contrasting colors. Foreground elements are objects that are close to the camera, and they can help to create a sense of depth. Different focal points can also create layers by directing the viewer’s attention to different parts of the photo. Finally, contrasting colors can also create layers, by making distinct elements stand out from each other. By using these techniques, photographers can add interest and depth to their images.

While photography is a complex art form, the basics are easy to understand and apply with a bit of practice. These 10 essential elements will help you create better pictures that capture your audience’s attention and tell a story. By understanding these principles and incorporating them into your photography, you can take your photos from good to great. Keep in mind that it is important to experiment and find what works best for you.

Author Bio

Author Bio Image

Delaney is a Business Analyst by day and a travel and wildlife photographer by night who is using her skills for translating complex technical language into easy to understand concepts to make photography achievable at all skill levels. You have questions; she has answers.

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