With digital cameras that do all the work for you, anyone should be able to take amazing photographs, right? So, why are so many photos dull and boring? Why is the most exciting part of the last photo you took Aunt Betty’s new hairstyle? The answer is two-fold: composition is everything, and despite what you may have read, the type of camera and lens that you use does matter.
First, let’s talk a little about composition. Composition is the grouping of subjects, whether they’re people, animals, items or architecture, within the frame of the photograph. The first rule of getting great composition is to simplify (less is often more). Choose one or two elements of the image to concentrate on. Once you’ve decided on those elements, exclude background clutter, and let those elements take up the majority of the frame, either by getting closer to your subjects or by using a lens with a focal length that allows them to fill most of the picture.
Browse stock images to get a feel for good composition. You’ll notice that stock photos are rarely static or boring. Their success is a result of great composition. The rule of thirds is critical to composition – imagine your frame is divided into nine squares, and balance the focus elements of your image on the sides or top and bottom of the photo. Avoid putting any one element in the absolute center, because that element, whether it’s a face or object, will tend to draw the eye inward and stop all movement in the picture.
Taking photos with an inexpensive camera is a good way for a beginner to get a feel for composition, but you’ll soon find that automatic-everything cameras are far too limiting for the really spectacular shots you want to capture. Sunsets come out disappointingly dull and portraits are spoiled by dark shadows cast by the sun. Animals move at exactly the wrong moment, producing blur.
A camera with manually adjustable options opens up a whole new world of techniques to the photographer, allowing you to take photos you could only dream of with your basic automatic-everything camera. Taking a few classes in photography through your local community college is a great way to learn about all the ways you can adjust your camera settings and take better photos. The camera’s manual is also a great source of information, so be sure to read it thoroughly. Finally, experimenting is the best way of learning to take great photos. Since digital photos are instant, don’t need to be developed and the only space they take up is on a memory card, it’s easier than ever to take as many shots as you need to find that perfect image.
Once your photos start looking more like the ones you’ve seen on stock image sites, it’s time to consider marketing your photographic art. Stock photo sites are always looking for great images to add to their collections, especially if you can provide them with unusual or famous regional features. Take the time to seek out unusual angles and try taking shots at different times of day, for photographs that will grab an observer’s attention and bring you repeat sales.
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