The Everyone Guide to Better Photos

With more and more people shooting digital I get asked the question of how to take better photos fairly frequently. The following is a short guide that will help the weekend or occasional shooter not only take better photos but also gain a better understanding of what you camera can do.

The first step is understanding your cameras limitations. For instance, a 3 megapixel camera will not under any circumstances print a good 8×10 print and a 10 megapixel camera isn’t always better than a 6-8 megapixel camera. Each camera has strengths and weaknesses, as do photographers. You understand what you camera can do and it will help you understand what you can do.

The second step in taking better photos is actually taking more photos. In photography the more photos that you take the better the chances you will take more photos that you like. With memory prices so cheap there really isn’t a reason not to take multiple shots of a single subject. I follow a rule of three, even when photographing people I shoot three shots rapidly in a row.

The third step is review. Reviewing the photos you’ve taken on you computer screen rather than the 3.5″ LCD camera screen while they are still fresh in your memory is very important. More and more people take the photos and just leave them sitting on the card inside the camera and inevitably they wait until the card is full to transfer or, as is most often the case, the card fills up while the person is away from their computer and they are sitting there reviewing them on that tiny screen looking for ones to delete while their big hard drive at home stays empty. Looking at images on your cameras LCD is nothing like looking at them on that big monitor you have.

The fourth step is experimentation. You have the photos off your camera and taking up space on the hard drive and now is the time to have fun with them. There are numerous ways to do this and there are some great free ways to do this:

iPhoto – free, Mac
Picassa – free, Mac/PC
Photoshop Express – free, web based

Even if you just hit the auto-fix button or change them from color to black & white, you’ll be shocked at how easy it is to experiment and impart a little personality into your shots.

The fifth is share your photos. There are plenty of ways for people to share their photos with friends, family, and even strangers. Free photography social sites like Flickr or free blog sites like WordPress.com are great ways for you to share your photos and even get tips for how to improve.

The sixth and final step for taking better photos isn’t anything with the camera or experimentation or sharing; it is something that will preserve your memories…back your photos up. Either with an external hard drive, a CD/DVD, or just printing them. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard “my hard drive failed, is there any way to get my photos off of the drive?” Unfortunately if it is dead and without spending a couple hundred dollars your photos are gone forever. The back-up mantra is very important for all of your files but even more so when it comes to memories.