Not everyone who reads Photofocus.com is a pro. In fact, I hear from lots of point and shoot owners who have no intention of upgrading to a DSLR. But They DO have an interest in improving the images they can make with their point and shoot or compact camera.
So here are three tips that EVERY amateur can use to improve their photography.
1. Get close, then get closer, then get closer still! Fill the frame with the subject. If you’re photographing a flower, show me the flower, not the entire garden it’s growing in. Most amateurs try to make images from too far away. You’ll never go wrong if you get closer. And DO move closer. Don’t just rely on the camera’s zoom to make the object appear closer. Use your feet. Move in, show me what you REALLY want me to see. Don’t try to get fancy. You can’t go wrong when you fill the frame.
2. If you’re photographing outdoors, make a rule. When possible, don’t photograph more than two hours after sunrise or two hours before sunset. I know, I know, this means you will miss some opportunities. There are always trade-offs in photography and this is one of them. The beautiful, golden, sweet light of early morning and late afternoon is the secret ingredient in most of those big-time professional photos you see in magazines. The closer you shoot to actual sunset or sunrise, the better the light. This does NOT mean you can only photograph sunsets or sunrises. It means you need to look for subjects you want to photograph bathed in that sweet light.
3. Put the sun at your back. Years ago, when we all shot film, each box of Kodak film included a little instruction sheet and the main piece of advice was to shoot with the sun at your back. If you’re an amateur, just trying to make sure your compact camera photos are well-exposed, and that they “come out,” shoot with the sun at your back. This avoids nasty backlit scenes that put your subject in shade or harsh side lighting that might blow out one side of the photo. Just point your shadow at the subject and you’ll always have nice even light. Indoors? Just find a big window that’s close to your subject and stand in front of it. The light will come from behind you and cover your subject.
This post assumes you’re just looking for good, basic exposures that reliably convey the scene. You can break every one of these rules and get creative if you know what you’re doing. But if not, start here. You WILL get better photographs, guaranteed.