Thursday, October 8, 2009

Taking Good Photographs


My philosophy about photography is simple. Anyone can take good photographs given they take time to learn a few key points.

1. It's not about what type of camera you own.

I have never owned a DSLR. That said, DSLRs are great for a lot of reasons. However, because most camera magazines, online articles, and photography school classes center themselves around owning one, people who do not own one tend to feel intimidated. But I am here to tell you, no matter what kind of camera you own, you can take great pictures! You do not have to be able to spout lens millimeters and focal lengths to make pleasing images.

Polaroid PDC 640

Pastureland, Lakeland, Florida

2. Know what your camera will do.

So you don't own a DSLR, or perhaps you do own one, take the time to learn the settings and functions of your camera. Nowadays even the most basic digital cameras are equipped to help new photographers take great pictures in all situations.

Get out of AUTO and read your manual! You know, the book that came with your camera? You might be surprised to learn what's in there and how it might help you. Photography is all about making good choices. If you don't know what your choices are, then you seriously limit what you can do.

Through The Looking Glass
Ricoh RDC-7

Through The Looking Glass, Saddle Creek Park, Lakeland, Florida

3. Study the basics.

Any good photograph comes as a result of learning the basics of photography: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Photography is, after all, about capturing light, and every camera uses these items to capture the light, even in automatic mode. When you understand how each of these affects the other, you will be able to make decisions on what will work best in each situation and you will take more, better pictures. In other words, you will capture pictures you would have lost through ignorance. Knowledge is, as they say, power.

Study the fine points of photography composition. Composition is how you lay out the image. You can have great light, but mess up the picture with where you have placed the elements in it. Watch your foreground and background. Is there a pole coming out from anyone's head? Are there any other distracting elements? Will a shift in your position make for a better image? What in your photograph draws the viewers eye the most?

4. Pay attention.

Paying attention means you apply all your new knowledge when you take each image. Ask yourself a series of questions. Will placing this object at that point in the scene be the best place for it? If I try from another angle, will the lighting be better? Can I adjust any of my camera's settings and achieve a better photograph? At first, this may seem taxing, but with consistency it will become easier and easier and you will in the end be a better photographer.

Try taking time without your camera to just study a scene. I always say some of my best photographs are in my head. I saw them just as if I had had a camera with me. This is also a great way to learn how to set a scene. Pretend you could move certain objects, even if they technically speaking cannot be moved. How would doing that improve things?

Scene By The Stream, Anna Rub Falls
Fuji 4900 Zoom

Scene By The Stream, Anna Ruby Falls, Georgia

5. Have fun

Never forget to have fun. Photography is about making memories and enjoying the process. When it ceases to be happy, then change what you are doing.

Don't be discouraged when you find yourself in a rut! This happens to everyone at some point in time. Think back to what you loved the most about your pictures and return there, or find inspiration in the work of others. Sometimes other people's photographs will give me fresh ideas and make me want to try something new.


I began photography with a low-end used digital camera and a magnifying glass. Through the encouragement of a man I met on the web, I learned that everyone can capture great photographs with even the simplest of tools. I hear from people all the time who can't believe I took that picture with this camera. And that for me is very satisfying.

Always be willing to take constructive criticism. The man who thinks he has learned it all is no different from the person who is blind to their faults. Both resist change, and sometimes the process of learning means we will make mistakes. If we will listen and consent to correction, we will become better people and better photographers.

Autumn Barn
Olympus SP-550

Autumn Barn, Between Ellijay and Dawsonville, Georgia

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Suzanne Williams Photography
To Read More of My Words
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

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