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5 tips for taking better photos: A blog post from Chuck Greeson

02.05.2015 | By: Texas Wesleyan University
With today’s technology, everyone can be a photographer. University photographer Chuck Greeson shares his tips for taking better photos with a new camera or smartphone.

So you just got a new camera or you have been using your iPhone and you think you’re the next Ansel Adams. I mean its just pushing a button and you’re a professional, right? NOPE.

It has taken me years to perfect and I am constantly learning something new everyday. Here are my top 5 tips on taking better photos.

1. Know your camera

Your fancy new camera is great but I believe the first step in taking amazing photos is to know what it can do. Read your manual! Trust me it will help. Even if you are using your iPhone, know what it can do. Play with the settings and get familiar.

2. Fill the frame

The great photographer Robert Capa once said, “If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough.” I don’t think he meant using the camera’s zoom.

Use your feet get close and fill the frame. The iPhone may have a good camera built in, but as soon as you use the zoom function on it, you can kiss your image quality goodbye. 

3. Look for good light

Nobody likes to take a picture with the sun blaring right in his or her eyes. Also, nobody likes to look at those pictures. The harsh light from the sun can either cause harsh shadows all over someone’s face or wash all of the shadows out.

Keep the sun at their back or stay in the shade. The pictures will definitely look better.

Also shooting at dusk is a photographer’s best friend. You will commonly hear this as the magic hour or golden hour. Simply put it’s the hour before and after the sun has set.

Good lighting makes great photos. (And I don’t mean using your camera’s flash, but that’s a whole other topic of discussion that I could go on for days about!)

4. Use two hands

Unless you’re going for a blurred photo effect or you want to show movement in your photo, use two hands when taking your photos. Hold your elbows in close to your rib cage and press the shutter button as you exhale, this will keep you more relaxed and will prevent camera shake.

Also, after taking the photo continue to hold the camera up. Sometimes, after taking the photo you will want to bring the camera down immediately after you hear the shutter release. Holding the camera up for a few seconds after the shutter releases will stabilize the camera more and your photos will be crisper.

5. Composition or the Rule of Thirds

Don’t just put your subject directly in the center of the frame! Our brains naturally break things down into patterns, but having things slightly off-center is appealing.

In photography there's actually a very simple method of composing called the "Rule of Thirds" that takes advantage of this. Basically, you cut the frame into thirds horizontally and vertically.

- Chuck Greeson, Texas Wesleyan photographer and videographer

Questions? Contact Chuck.

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