Thanks to the increasing power and performance of smartphones, tablets, and digital cameras, these days, everyone is capable of producing stunning photos. Certainly, not everyone makes a profession or even a hobby out of it – but given the skyrocketing quality of images you can now produce with off the shelf solutions, it’s no surprise many people’s collection of pictures now numbers in the thousands. Looking to snap snazzier shots? It’s simple. Whether you're using your phone to spontaneously capture everyday happenings for social media sites or just recording magical family moments, with a few simple tips, it’s easy to take better pictures, no matter your preferred device.
Ideally, your camera should feel like a natural extension of your body, so that you can take a picture at a moment's notice, whenever and wherever needed. To this end, you’ll want to keep your camera on you at all times and shoot as many scenes and portraits as you can, as often as you can, to practice and improve your skills. A considerably less practical approach when film was a vital component of shooting, the ability to digitally capture and delete photos as needed at the press of a button makes it easy to run wild for as long as your memory card allows. Be sure to experiment as much as possible and get a feel for your camera and your style as it continues to evolve.
Get Smart About Lighting
Lighting is a critical factor that can make or break a picture. For starters, never trust your eyes to tell you how a picture may turn out, as they can adapt to and perceive light differently from the lens of a camera. Second, try to get to know your available light sources while shooting, and make them work for you as you use them to highlight or cast shadows as necessary. Finally, don't be afraid to use your flash during the daytime as needed – the sun can actually cast harsh shadows on a very bright day that can affect the view of your subject. Using your flash can negate these effect to a degree and give a more even exposure.
Check Your Screen Later
Digital cameras are handy in that they allow you to instantly see how shots you’ve just snapped have turned out. However, checking the screen on the back of your camera after every shot (aka "chimping") can cause you to potentially miss better shots and moments. It's generally considered a bad habit and can disrupt the flow of your shooting, so for now, just keep snapping away. You can always check your shots and pick and choose which ones best suit your needs later.
Keep Your Batteries Charged
Preparation is key, and perhaps the most important rule of thumb in this day and age is to make sure you keep your batteries fully charged whenever you can. When you return to your home or hotel room after a busy day of playing paparazzi, right to the charger you should go, recharging your batteries to be ready for the next time you need them. Even if you're going to be relaxing for a short period before heading back out, a little bit of charging can go a long way. In the case of devices with removable batteries, though, be sure not to forget them before heading out – and it might not hurt to keep a spare set around, just in case.
Get Close Up
Positioning is everything, and if you feel you're not getting the desired results from your photographs, try stepping in a bit closer. (And note that if you're using your smartphone's camera, actually getting in closer is typically better than just zooming in, if possible.) This helps bring out facial expressions and fill out the frame more with less wasted space. Be aware of your backgrounds and how to work around them as necessary, and consider height as well. A higher vantage point can reduce the prominence of a subject in a picture, while shooting from a lower one can increase it.
Have Fun With It
When applicable, you want your subjects to feel relaxed as you photograph them. Of course, sometimes you want to evoke a certain emotion as well, generally happiness and laughter. If you can time a joke well, then you’ll produce a more natural grin than if you simply give the order to “smile.” If jokes aren’t your thing, though, consider having your subjects say a quirky word, but avoid “cheese” if you don’t want a smile that’s just that. Fun fact: Words with an “m” sound, such as “monkey” or “milkshake” can actually result in a more satisfying expression.