You, the Photographer

header_cellpicDoes this headline make you laugh (yeah, sure, me, a photographer?) or give you a knot in your stomach? There’s mounting pressure on every communicator to be great picture takers. Images get attention and they are effective at sharing a message. So, writer, it is time to be a photographer!

For many of us, that’s not an easy transition. I admire the work of great photo takers and know that I am not one of them. But, I am trying to get better. Here are some tips that I hope will help you too.

Keep the tools basic: Thanks to smartphones and editing apps, we can now take high quality photos and edit them without any big investment.

Use grid lines: Turn on grid lines so you can properly set up your shot. The lines are based on the rule of thirds, one of the most well-known principles of photographic composition. The theory is that if you place points of interest along the lines, your photo will be more balanced.

To switch the grid on:

  • iPhone: Go to “Settings,” choose “Photos & Camera,” and switch “Grid” on.
  • Samsung Galaxy S5: Launch the camera app, go to “Settings,” scroll down and tap “Gridlines on.”

Simplicity is your friend: Use simplicity to your advantage. Focus on one subject or object in a simple background. When you include a lot of empty space, your subject will stand out more and evoke a stronger reaction from your viewer.

Move to make it interesting: Taking photos while standing in front of the subject isn’t the only option. Try these:

  • Capture a unique, unexpected angle – kneel, climb on top of something, move to the side
  • Use reflections in glass, metal, water, etc.
  • Look for symmetry
  • Focus in on a small detail

Turn off the flash. Flashes wash out photos and often lead to blurry photos. Use sources of natural light.

Take many; toss most: One of the best ways to capture an interesting shot is to take a lot of photos. You’ll have more to choose from, and often the best photos happen when the stars align in a single moment.

Use a photo editing app: Edit your photos to brighten colors, crop to important elements, etc. The great news is that many tools have automatic adjust settings that will improve your photos with the click of a button. There are many options including the Snapseed photo editing app and desktop applications like Paint and Gimp.