Beginner’s Photography Tips: Taking Good Pictures With Your Camera

I was proudly showing some pictures of kids to their parents.

“You have a really good camera,” the mother said while looking at one in which I had captured an innocent look on the face of her son.

“Cameras don’t take good pictures,” I quipped. “The photographer takes good pictures.”

My attempt at snobbish humor was brought down by her response of, “yeah, right.” Though the mom didn’t allow me my exaggerated illusions of grandeur for the moment, I still believe the statement is true. You can spend a lot of money on the latest, state of the art photographic equipment. You can own a wide variety of lenses, filters, and even several different camera bodies. But if you don’t know how to “see” the picture before you “take” the picture, you won’t be happy with the results.

The camera is the tool to help you capture exactly what you want to capture. But the process begins with your eyes.

First, you need to find your picture. I see pictures all around me. While driving down a street, I may see a boy having an animated discussion with his mother. That would be a good picture. Or I see a person sitting alone at a bus stop. That would be another good picture.

I like getting spontaneous pictures of kids. Kids don’t care that you have a camera in your hand. They’re too busy doing kid stuff. So kids are less inhibited than adults when a camera is near. I like to get close enough so the child’s head fills the frame. This requires getting down to their level. Crawl on the ground if you have to. Take the picture when he or she is looking directly at you, or snap the shutter when the child is totally oblivious to you. Either way usually freezes a good expression on your exposure.

Scenic pictures or others without people in them are harder to spot. For a good scenic picture, you don’t need to be hanging off a mountain or traveling down a river in Brazil. Interesting pictures probably surround you but you have not noticed them. I have not been to either of the above places. But I have taken hundreds of scenic pictures. Sunrises and sunsets are some of the most photographed subjects, but I don’t get tired of looking at them. Plus there are trees, plants, birds, squirrels, vistas, hills, rivers, streams, etc.

Or go for the man-made subjects. Tall buildings are interesting from the right angles. Short buildings can be interesting also. Several years ago, I began shooting pictures of old churches. I took a picture anytime I saw an old country church. Later I included pictures of larger cathedrals.

Any item can be interesting. A telephone pole and its wires against a sky with storm clouds can convey many emotions.

Once again, you need to “see” the picture before you take it. Or at least put the camera to your eye and see the picture as it will be seen in the final print. If you don’t like what you see or if it is uninspiring, move around. Look for a different angle. Get on the ground. Lay flat on your back if you need to.

Look around you. Always keep the camera loaded and ready to shoot. You will be surprised at the pictures you begin to create.

Notice in all of the examples above, I did not once say that you must use a camera with a ton of features. This is because you don’t have to own a fancy camera to take good pictures. Though a camera with more features can expand your possibilities, the process of taking good pictures begins with you.

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