How to take better pictures

While there is no substitute for a professional photographer, sometimes you just need to get a shot of an event, activity or completed project, perhaps for social media or your newsletter.

I have seen many amateur photos that could have been pretty good if only the photographer had spotted the ugly background, the large expanse of ceiling, or the fact they’d cut somebody in half. So here are my top tips for taking a half decent shot yourself:

Before you start …

  1. Check the area is tidy and clean
  2. Are there any ‘ugly’ items lying around? (dishcloths in a heap by the sink, mop & bucket standing in the corner, wrappers lying on a surface)
  3. Is everything neat and ordered, both on surfaces and underneath, especially open shelving (make sure it’s stacked neatly)
  4. Is there anything there that shouldn’t be? (handbag, mobile phone, paperwork)
  5. Tidy up shelves and surfaces where there are open packets or appliances on view. Either remove them out of sight, or put something attractive in front of them

Once that’s all done …

  1. Have a look through your viewfinder – look around all the edges as well as the middle. Does everything look good?
  2. Would it be better to move the camera up or down to get less or more ceiling or floor in?
  3. Would it be better from a different angle?
  4. Are there any people in the background?
  5. Smiling people doing a job are fine. Contractors leaning on a wall taking a break aren’t!
  6. Keep the camera steady and make sure it’s in focus

A professional photographer will automatically check all these elements, as well as making sure the subject is well lit, bringing in additional lighting if needed. If you’re taking shots for your website or brochure, it is definitely worth the investment, but for day to day purposes the above tips should help you get a decent image.

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