Panasonic GH5 in the dark.

Anyone can press a shutter button, but taking a striking photo requires special talent. Once you know the basics of exposure and a general idea of composition, it’s time to take your photography skills to the next level. Today we will show you more advanced photography tips to consider when composing an image. Keep these concepts in mind to improve your photos significantly.


Rule of thirds

Rule of thirds sample, one of the most well known photography tips

There is a sea of composition rules you will learn, but the rule of thirds is the most basic and popular of all photography tips. The rule of thirds is simple: draw two equally distanced imaginary lines horizontally, then do the same vertically. This will create a 3 x 3 grid. All you need to do is make sure your main subject or focus point is in one of the cross sections.

There will likely be an option to turn on this grid in your camera settings. Most smartphones have it, and it is a great visual tool for applying the rule of thirds.

Though this composition rule is a favorite and has a great chance at success, it’s also easy to mess it up. You have to watch out for other factors, two of which we go over in this very article.


Leading lines

Sample of leading lines. Beer in counter.

The word “photography” has ancient Greek origins and it means “drawing with light.” Lines are the most important part of drawing, and they’re imperative in good photography. Always be mindful of your lines and try to make it so they lead to your main subject.

Three people looking at phone.

These could be literal lines, but also thematic ones. There are vision lines, for example. A person could be looking at the main subject in the image. That’s not a literal line, but it works just as well, if not better. Eyes are a powerful tool to use in photography.


Filling the frame

Girl listening to headphones.

Filling the frame is a simple way to bring more attention to your subject. Get closer to the subject so it occupies more space in the picture.

Of course, empty space is also something you can use to your advantage, so you will have to rely on your creativity and environment to decide what’s appropriate. As a general rule of thumb, though, incorrectly used dead space can create distractions.


Negative space

Beer in counter.

As with any art, photography is not as simple as following rules, because these can be broken. Negative space (or dead space) can be used to make a more impactful image.

Photography is not as simple as following rules, because these can be broken and modified.

Edgar Cervantes

The subject of your photograph is known as positive space and negative space is everything surrounding it. You can use the environment to bring attention to your subject using bokeh, lines, colors, and other elements. One can also create feelings with dead space like grandeur, stress, activity, peace, and nature.

It’s hard to give you a way to use negative space appropriately. You can blur out trains, cars, or people around your subject. You can also include interesting textures or patterns to your negative space. You have to get creative!


Depth of field

Baby crawling on grass.

Depth of field can make or break an image. In a nutshell, depth of field is the distance between the nearest and farthest points kept in focus in a photo. This is how bokeh (blurry background) is created.

Depth of field is mostly controlled by aperture, distance to the subject, and focal length.

Edgar Cervantes

Depth of field is mostly controlled by aperture, distance to the subject, and focal length. The wider the aperture, closer the distance, and higher the focal length, the shallower the depth of field (less kept in focus) becomes. The smaller the aperture, further distance from the subject, and lower focal length, the larger the depth of field (more in focus).

Always use depth of field to your advantage. A narrower depth of field is great for isolating a subject from the background and lessening distractions. If you are taking a picture of something like children playing baseball, you will want more kids in focus, something a wider depth of field would help with.


Viewpoint

Couple at a bar.

The viewpoint, or perspective, can turn a mundane shot into an extraordinary one. Say you arrive at a famous tourist attraction, walk up to it, and take a straight shot at eye level. Just think how many people have taken that same cookie-cutter photo in the past, and how many will do so in the future. Your image will be lost in a sea of photos that look just like it.

People may laugh at your weird poses, but at the end you will have a special image to show.

Edgar Cervantes

Find a different angle, get closer to the floor, or higher from the ground. If you have a drone, use it. Get to a roof, or go behind the building. Finding an unusual angle will always make an image stand out. People may laugh at your weird poses (they always laugh at me), but at the end you will have a special image to show.


PatternsOtter products.

People seem to have an obsession with patterns, no doubt because of the relative chaos of everyday life. If you find interesting patterns, use them to make an image more interesting. You can use patterns to bring a feeling of balance to an image. Equally, you can break patterns to grab more attention.


Framing

Just married couple in classic car.

Framing the subject within the image can further bring attention to it, while also offering a more unique perspective. Instead of shooting out of a window, next time think of how the picture would look if it included the window. You could also use trees, mountains, and rocks to frame the subject and bring more attention to it. A fence, architecture, tunnels, mirrors, and caves are other popular choices.


Color theory

out of all photography tips color is often the most overlooked.

Of all the photography tips we’re discussing today, color is often overlooked by many photographers in favor of framing, thousands of rules, and catching the moment. Color can affect the mood of an image significantly. It’s the same reason why painters and designers usually stick to specific color palettes.

you can manipulate colors (whether it is while shooting or in post-processing) to give a feeling to your images.

Edgar Cervantes

Remember back in elementary school when we learned about primary, secondary, and tertiary colors? The most popular among photographers is the RGB (red, green, and blue) wheel. These primary colors form the base. Secondary colors are made by mixing primary colors; in this case, the mixtures would create cyan, magenta, and yellow. Furthermore, tertiary colors are made by combining both primary and secondary colors.

Samsung Dex.

You could spend a long time learning about photography tips related to color theory, but we can’t keep you here much longer. In summary, you can manipulate colors (whether it is while shooting or in post-processing) to give a special feeling to your images.

Colors on opposite sides of the color wheel compliment each other and give good contrast, offering a very eye-catching effect. Analogous colors are adjacent to one another in the wheel, and can create a harmonious effect because of the low contrast. Monochromatic images do the same by exclusively using different shades of a single color.

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So that’s it for our look at some of the best basic photography tips to take your photos to the next level. Get out there and shoot! Use these tips to get better results. Make the most of what you learned! You have a long road ahead.

Any photography tips you can think of that we left out? Let us know in the comments.

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