The Easy and Succinct Guide to Learning How to Make Photos that Rock

I propose here a little synthesis of the main rules to follow to take sublime photos with your digital reflex, compact camera, or smartphone. We will see in a practical way how you can succeed in taking the photos you need for your project, whether they are of the trips you will share on your blog, the products for your online store, the daily life that will feed your Instagram account, etc.

What makes a photo beautiful or not? I would almost say that this question has no answer as it is so subjective. Everything depends on the eye that looks at it, but especially on the sensitivity of the person to whom it belongs.

Some will be amazed by a nameless piece of crap while others will drop a laconic “bah!” in front of a Steve McCurry or Robert Doisneau’s photograph. However, there are a few basic rules that will help you have better control over the result you expect and to make your pictures more “attractive”.

This article has absolutely no pretension to turn you into a photographer. It’s just a very condensed and far from exhaustive summary of the basic knowledge that every budding photographer should know before starting out, along with some personal advice that I hope will be quite useful. So, let’s get started!

Illustration images: To illustrate most of the points discussed in this article, I’ve used my own photos and put a link to my space 500px.com in case you might be interested. For the others, I just put the name of the author and a link to their site or to the original image.

1Composition

Composition is the art of placing the different elements that compose a photograph in such a way as to make it pleasant and enjoyable to look at. It varies according to the subjects and the “message” you wish to express, but it is one of the keys to creating a beautiful photo.

  • The Rule of Thirds: This rule, with a relatively simple principle, is probably one of the best known in photography. It consists of dividing the image into three equal parts, horizontally and vertically, and placing the interesting elements on one of the intersections or along the lines separating the different zones.

    This more artistic approach breaks the monotony of a subject centered in the middle of a photo, intensifying its complexity and multiplying the possibilities of compositions.

    With a portrait, if the subject is in three-quarter view or in profile and his or her gaze is, therefore, oblique, it is preferable to shift the subject to the right or left, with the face turned towards the inside of the image. This added space will open up the field of vision, allowing the subject to “breathe” and allowing our eye to follow their gaze.

  • Center the Subject: The “rule of thirds” mentioned above is not a requirement but rather a personal choice. On the other hand, you can choose to place your point of interest in the center of the image, and in some cases, it is even the best option.

    This can be the case, for example, for portraits, product photos of an e-commerce site, or to emphasize the aesthetics of a symmetry. The best thing to do if you hesitate is to multiply the shots by varying the framing and then decide which one is the most appropriate.

  • IMAGE 4 Center the subject ©Jayden Sim
  • IMAGE 5 Interior view of the “Burj Al Arab” hotel, Dubai. Interior view of the “Burj Al Arab” hotel, Dubai. 500px
  • IMAGE 6 An old man in a street in Libon, Portugal. An old man in a street in Libon, Portugal. 500px
  • Play with the Vanishing Lines: Vanishing lines are those imaginary lines or curves composed by a road, a river, a building, a staircase, trees, etc. They guide the eye to a specific point in the image and bring a sense of depth or even a three-dimensional aspect to it.

    We notice that if these lines converge towards the center of the image, they bring a certain aesthetic symmetry to the photo while if, on the contrary, they lead towards one of the upper corners, it will give it a certain dynamism. In this second case, do not hesitate to slightly tilt your camera to accentuate the effect.

  • Use Geometric Shapes: Urban environments are the most suitable playgrounds for this kind of photography because there are all kinds of picturesque buildings offering very varied architecture, which are sometimes even downright surprising and unusual. By playing with the shapes, but also with the vanishing lines mentioned above, there are ways to make very nice shots.

  • Add Some Life: Including a human silhouette or that of a cat, dog, bird, etc., on your urban or natural landscapes will give a little (more) life to your images and give a clue about the size of what you are photographing, especially if it is bizarre or abstract architecture.

  • Change the Point of View: Sometimes it is enough to climb a few inches or even a few floors, to move back a little or sideways, to completely change the perspective and especially the character of a photo.

    This is especially true for landscapes or monuments, but it can be applied to other subjects such as portraits, for example. Think about it before you press the trigger and vary the viewpoints if you have trouble finding one that will work for you.

  • Negative Spaces: Generally, they are used to illustrate the serenity of a place or to accentuate the impression of solitude and isolation of a subject. If this is not the desired effect, use secondary and anecdotal elements to fill the entire frame. But whatever you decide, avoid loading one area of the image and leaving another completely empty as this will throw your photo off balance.

    Some subjects require tight or even very tight framing in order to be best displayed, so don’t hesitate to get closer (or zoom in) if necessary. Wide framing with large empty areas is a common mistake for beginners.

  • IMAGE 19 Negative Spaces ©Todd Trapani
  • IMAGE 20 A seagull flying over the water. Algarve, Portugal. A seagull flying over the water. Algarve, Portugal. 500px
  • IMAGE 21 A composition with no negative spaces. A composition with no negative spaces. 500px
  • Backlighting and Silhouettes: All in contrast, this type of photography is always spectacular but requires a certain mastery of the technique. Because if the principle is relatively simple, we place a subject in front of a bright light (the sun for example) in order to detach the silhouette in shadow, and it will be necessary at the beginning to repeat several times before obtaining an optimal result and a good balance between light and dark areas.

    The use of black & white is perfectly suitable for this kind of photo, but it is not an obligation. So it’s up to you.

  • IMAGE 22 Two fishermen under the 25th of April bridge, Lisbon, Portugal. Two fishermen under the 25th of April bridge, Lisbon, Portugal. 500px
  • IMAGE 23 Backlighting and Silhouettes ©Sippakorn Yamkasikorn
  • IMAGE 24 Little girl dreaming by the water, Isaan, Thailand. Little girl dreaming by the water, Isaan, Thailand. 500px
  • Contrasts: If there is one kind of photography I love, it is the ones that have managed to capture these contrasts, lights, or colors with a certain perfection. They are, in my opinion, true pieces of art that require some thought on composition, framing, and exposure.

    The beautiful sunny days of summer are, of course, the most favorable for outdoor shots because the colors are shimmering and the lights are bright. Whether in an urban environment or in the middle of nature, train your eye to look for elements that stand out from the others because of their colors or their shadows.

  • Go for the Square Format: This format is as old as photography itself so, no, it’s not Instagram that invented it. It lends itself perfectly to certain compositions as well in portraits, landscapes, or architecture for example. It can be an excellent alternative if you can’t decide between a horizontal or vertical format for a particular subject.

    Few cameras offer this format naturally, so you will have to use an editing software. Keep this in mind when you press the trigger.

  • Foreground: Another way to modulate the composition of the image is to add a foreground. Examine the space around you for a door, tree, person, low wall, bench, flowers, etc. Just about anything you find can be used. This not only fills in any gaps in the frame, but also allows you to play with the blurred areas, which will make your photo even more stunning.

  • IMAGE 31 The Buddha's gaze through two pillars in the foreground, at the temple Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand. The Buddha’s gaze through two pillars in the foreground, at the temple “Wat Pho” in Bangkok, Thailand. 500px
  • IMAGE 32 Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas in the NRJ Paris studios, France. Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas in the NRJ Paris studios, France. 500px
  • IMAGE 33 Foreground ©Anastacia Cooper
  • Break the Rules: Yes, I know, I just told you the opposite, but the truth is that nothing I wrote above is an absolute law, and fortunately so. You are free to create your own rules of framing and composition.

    Be original, creative, and, above all, don’t be afraid to be subversive to show us the world as you see it.

Voilà. These are just a few of the rules or practices that are generally used, and there are, of course, many more, but I think I’ve pretty much covered what will be most useful for you to be effective and creative.

2Exposure

If composition is essential for a successful photo, exposure is no less so. The difference here is that the camera can decide everything for you since most of them can manage it fully automatically.

However, it is very useful to know the basic rules if you want to have a minimum of control over the expected result. Even smartphones allow you to manually set the different parameters (sometimes through an application) that I’m going to talk about now.

Without going into too much technical detail, let’s first take a look at how a camera works by focusing on the two main elements that make it up.

  • The Sensor: Basically, a camera is nothing more than a system capable of capturing the light that is reflected all around us. The sensor [IMG37] is the photosensitive electronic component that will collect this light and transform it into digital information. It is protected by a shutter [IMG38], a kind of curtain placed in front of it to avoid it being constantly exposed to light, and which opens briefly when a photograph is taken.

    There are different sizes of sensors [IMG39], the main ones being APS-C (Cropped) which equip most “consumer” cameras, and full-frame (also called “full format”, “35 mm” or “24×36”) found on professional and semi-professional cameras.

  • IMAGE 37 A full frame photo sensor A full frame photo sensor.
    ©Canon HK
  • IMAGE 38 The shutter of an SLR in action. The shutter of an SLR in action.
    ©SlowMoGuys
  • IMAGE 39 Sensor sizes The 3 main sensors: Full frame, APS-C and Smartphone.
  • The Lens: This is the optical system composed of several lenses whose role is to guide the light with the highest precision to the sensor. It is a key element because, whether it is fixed (compact and smartphone) or interchangeable (SLR and hybrid), its manufacturing quality greatly affects the quality of the photos obtained.

    The two important parameters that characterize a lens are the focal length and the maximum aperture.

  • aThe Focal Length [IMG40]: Expressed in millimeters (mm), it determines the angle of vision covered by the lens. The smaller the number is, the wider the angle will be, and therefore, the more elements of the scene will be in the frame.

    There are all kinds of focal lengths for SLR cameras, from the 8 mm fisheye (180° field) to the 1200 mm super-zoom (2° field), but one of the most popular is the 50 mm (46°) because it is the closest to human vision (which is approximately 43 mm).

    This means that everything photographed at 40 mm and below (35 mm, 24 mm, 16 mm, etc.) will be smaller than reality (ours at least) while everything above 50 mm (70 mm, 100 mm, 300 mm, etc.) is “magnified”.

    Be careful because all the values I mention here apply to “full format” sensors. Indeed, APS-C is smaller [IMG41], so we must calculate the ratio corresponding to this difference.

    For example, with Canon, it is 1.6 times smaller while with Nikon, Sony, or Pentax, it is 1.5. Concretely, this means that the equivalent of a 50mm on your camera equipped with an APS-C sensor will be a 35mm (50 mm ÷ 1.5 = 33.33 at Nikon or 50 mm ÷ 1.6 = 31.25 at Canon).

  • bThe Aperture [IMG42]: The lenses are equipped with an iris diaphragm (similar to that of our eye) that is opened or closed according to the amount of light the sensor needs to correctly expose the photo.

    Its value is expressed in f/stop or 1:x (x being replaced by the value). The smaller it is, the larger the aperture is, and therefore, the greater the amount of light reaching the sensor is. In practice, this means that an aperture at f/2.8 (or 1:2.8) will be larger than an aperture at f/11 (or 1:11). Yes, I know, it sounds paradoxical, but this value is the result of a small mathematical equation.

    Calculation of the f/ value

    Focal length of the lens (L) ÷ diameter of the aperture (A) = aperture (f). So, if we take the example of a 100 mm lens (L), whose aperture opens to 36 mm (A), this will give 100 mm ÷ 36mm = 2.8 (f).

    Most common values: f/1,4, f/2, f/2,8, f/4, f/5,6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22, f/32

    Don’t worry—you don’t have to memorize this formula because the camera does it for you. However, what you should remember is that the smaller the f/ number, the larger the aperture and that each time this value goes up or down a notch, the amount of light reaching the sensor is multiplied or divided by two.

  • IMAGE 40 Example of focal lengths and fields of view Example of focal lengths and fields of view.
  • IMAGE 41 Size comparison of the main sensors Size comparison of the main sensors. 500px
  • IMAGE 42 Aperture of the diaphragm Aperture of the diaphragm.
    F_K

The Exposure Triangle

Now that we have seen how a camera works, let’s see what parameters are involved in managing exposure. There are 3 of them: ISO, aperture, and speed.

  • The Aperture: Unlike the other two parameters, this one is intrinsically linked to the optical system itself, and that’s why I developed it earlier in the section, defining what a photographic lens is, and will not come back to it here.

    The only thing that is worth adding is that this aperture has a direct impact on the depth of field, but as it has little to do with exposure, I will talk about it below in a paragraph specifically dedicated to that.

  • The Shutter Speed: This defines the time during which the shutter opens and exposes the sensor to light when the trigger is pressed. The longer this time, the larger is the amount of light received by the sensor.

    It is expressed in fractions of a second (eg: 1/125s) or in seconds depending on the “exposure time” required and, as for the aperture, the amount of light received is multiplied or divided by 2 depending on whether you raise or lower this value by one notch.

    In practice, it is best to always choose an exposure time as short as possible because the longer the sensor is exposed, the more likely it is that your subject will be blurred, especially if it is moving.

    For example, for sports photos or any other subject with fast movement, a minimum speed of 1/1000th of a second will be advised, for a subject with little movement, 1/125th, and for a landscape or still life, 1/30th will suffice. Below 1/30th of a second, I strongly advise you to use a photo tripod.

    Most common values: 1/4000, 1/2000, 1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1 second, etc. up to 30 seconds, Bulb (or B mode).

  • ISO Sensitivity: The ISO is the unit that indicates how quickly the photocytes (the cells that compose a sensor) will “absorb” a certain amount of light. The higher this value is, the more light they will capture in the same amount of time.

    But even though sensors are a true concentration of technology, they still have their weaknesses. And the main problem is that the more you increase this sensitivity, the more you will have what is called “noise”, that is to say, a rather unsightly grain that can ruin the quality of an image by altering its sharpness.

    The value at which this noise appears varies according to each sensor, but generally, it is beyond ISO 800 that it starts to become really annoying.

    To avoid this problem, there are two solutions: either you try not to go too high by opening the diaphragm by increasing the exposure time (the use of a tripod can be useful) or by using a flash, or you retouch the photo with a software such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom (but there are others, even free).

    Personally, since retouching is sometimes a relatively “destructive” practice, especially when it comes to “erasing” the grain, I use it as a last resort and always prefer the first option.

    However, you should know that this noise can in some cases, such as black & white, bring a real aesthetic effect to your images (it reminds the great era of argentic film.

    Most common values: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400 and 12800 ISO

3Other Important Concepts

We have seen so far two of the main points that lay the foundations of photography. I now propose to go through others that also have their importance.

  • The Depth of Field: It defines the area of sharpness between the different planes or elements that make up a photograph. We speak of deep focus when everything is in focus and, conversely, shallow focus when the subject on which you have focused is in focus, but not the background or foreground or any other element that makes up the photo (this is called a “bokeh”). These pictorial examples should help you understand.

  • IMAGE 44 This little Geko found his snack. Thung Pho Chai, Thailand. This little Geko found his snack. Thung Pho Chai, Thailand. 500px
  • IMAGE 45 Kimba, a friend's adorable cat. Kimba, a friend’s adorable cat. 500px
  • IMAGE 46 Deep focus ©George Desipris
  • Two parameters allow you to control it: the aperture and the focal length. For the aperture, as we saw above, the larger it is (f/2.8 for example), the more the depth of field will be reduced.

  • The same goes for the focal length. The larger it is (100 mm or 200 mm for example) and the further apart the different planes are, the more blurred areas your image will have. So, the more you zoom in, the more the depth of field will be reduced. Note that I am talking about optical zoom and not digital zoom (digital magnification of the image).

  • Color or Black & White?: If in some cases the choice seems obvious, such as a sunset in a blazing sky, a meadow full of spring flowers, or any other subject where colors are one of the main attractions. In other cases, we can legitimately ask the question.

    Black & white is mostly an artistic choice and requires a deep reflection on what it can bring or express more on an image. It can sometimes add a certain intensity to the subject or underline the dramatic side of a scene and thus prove to be a real aesthetic asset. However, when used improperly, these shades of gray can simply ruin a work of art.

    Some photographers even consider color to be a “distraction”, preventing them from seeing the essential meaning of the photo. It depends entirely on one’s sensibility and/or the “story” you want to tell through the image.

    If you want to make your own opinion, the best thing to do is to go and look at the images of great photographers “specialized” in B&W. Anyway, the great thing about digital is that you can take all your pictures in color and decide later, in “post-production”, if the desaturation of your shot is relevant or not.

  • IMAGE 47 Homeless in a street of Brussels. Homeless in a street of Brussels. 500px
  • IMAGE 48 A woman does her accounting. Bangkok, Thailand. A woman does her accounting. Bangkok, Thailand. 500px
  • IMAGE 49 Fire in the small village of Granho, not far from Lisbon, Portugal. Fire in the small village of Granho, not far from Lisbon, Portugal. 500px

If you like black and white photography, go check my Instagram and let me know what you think. (Yeah, I promote myself 😋)

  • Selective Desaturation: We all know this image of the bright yellow New York cab, moving through the streets of a city all in shades of gray [IMG50]. Well, that’s what selective desaturation is all about: “decolorizing” a part of the image to keep only one colored element.

    We see it more and more on the Web and yet, this “technique” must be used with the greatest parsimony, because the “kitsch” (or the catastrophe) is often never very far away. Most photographers will even tell you never to use it, but for my part, I find that the effect can be nice in some cases. In fact, even Steven Spielberg used it in his movie Schindler’s List.

    I was inspired by it a few years ago when I was walking in the streets of Lisbon, Portugal, and I saw this touching old blind lady, who was earning some money with her radio. In this photo, I performed a selective but also partial desaturation (decrease of the saturation to -85%) [IMG52].

  • IMAGE 50 The famous image of the Yellow Cab in New York ©Etienne Delorieux
  • IMAGE 51 The kitsch I was talking about (yes, it's from me). Mahabalipuram, South India. The “kitsch” I was talking about (yes, it’s from me). Mahabalipuram, South India.
  • IMAGE 52 An old lady in an alley in Lisbon, Portugal. An old lady in an alley in Lisbon, Portugal. 500px
  • White Balance: When you take a picture at night or from any place where there is no sunlight at all, artificial light can be a very good source of light for your subject. It can even be a very important aesthetic element and create a very special atmosphere in your image.

    You have to be careful, though, because this kind of lighting can sometimes bring a rather unsightly colorimetric dominance to your pictures. For example, if you photograph a nighttime street scene with only urban lighting, your photo will have a very orange tint that is not very aesthetic.

    This is because each lighting diffuses a light with its own color. This color is measurable and is expressed in “degrees Kelvin” (K). I will not go into details, but what is important here is to know that the lower this value is, the more the dominant color will be orange (we speak then of “warm” colors), and on the contrary, the higher it will be, the more it will be blue (“cold” colors).

    Here are some examples of colorimetric temperatures:

    • Light emitted by a candle: 1200 K
    • Incandescent lamp (tungsten): 2800 à 3200 K
    • Sunlight at dawn and dusk: 2500 à 3800 K
    • Flash light from a camera: about 5000 à 6000 K
    • Overcast sky: about 6500 K
    • Sunny daytime: 12000K

    You can decide to keep this color scheme if you wish. After all, you are the artist, and therefore, the choice is yours. But in most cases, we will try to avoid it. The goal, as you may have guessed, is to make the white in your image really white.

    There are only two ways to correct this: before or after taking the picture.

    • aBefore: Cameras (smartphones or APNs) have a sensor that can automatically adjust the white balance but only up to a certain limit.

      It is possible to manually adjust this WB on most SLR cameras as well as on some high-end compacts and smartphones, but it can be a bit laborious if you are a beginner. So you can always take care of it after the shoot if you want.

    • bAfter: Most photo editing software or applications will allow you to quickly and easily correct the white balance. I will not be able to explain the procedure to follow because it differs too much depending on the one you use, but here again, Google and YouTube are full of tutorials that will help you.

  • IMAGE 53 White balance correction des blancs White balance correction. 500px
  • IMAGE 54 Color temperatures and presets available on some devices Color temperatures and presets available on some devices. ©Bella White
  • Avoid Blur: If your image is blurry, there are only two reasons for it: a too long exposure time or a wrong focus. I’ve already discussed these two points above, so I won’t go into them at length here, but keep these tips in mind: first, always make sure you focus just before you shoot. Second, if you have to work in long exposure, but don’t have a tripod, stabilize your body and the camera as much as possible by leaning on a wall or other solid surface if possible, sticking your arms by your side and holding your breath for 2 or 3 seconds just before you hit the trigger.

    Now, if despite these tips your photo is still blurry, take a good look at it before you delete it. There are artistic blurs that can give a very original effect to some images. You never know…

  • IMAGE 55 Motorcycle stuntman in a silo Wall of Death, Udon Thani, Thailand. Motorcycle stuntman in a silo “Wall of Death”, Udon Thani, Thailand. 500px
  • IMAGE 56 An artistic blur ©Dom J
  • The Signature (Watermark): Please, avoid signing your photos with your name or logo. At least, at the beginning. First of all, because it’s ugly and doesn’t necessarily make you want to look at the photo. Secondly, you’ll probably be doing some “shit” during the first few months of your apprenticeship (sorry to break it to you so abruptly), so it’s better to keep a low profile if you know what I mean. No, leave that to the kids who draw mom, dad and Fido, their Labrador.

    Well, if you really think you’ve taken the photo of the century, if you’re afraid that Yves Saint Laurent will steal it for their next ad campaign or if you just want to tell the world that this work of art is yours, put your name or a web address (without the “http://www”) in the corner of the image and apply an opacity between 10 and 20%. Something discreet but readable. Above all, avoid aesthetic signatures and other logos that will only draw the eye and disrupt the “reading” of your photo.

    If you ever receive a photo assignment, you can sign the ones you will post on your social networks or use for commercial purposes, but never the ones intended for your client.

    Finally, if you hesitate, think about the fact that few great photographers put their name on their work…

  • IMAGE 57 Examples of photo signatures photo Examples of photo signatures. 500px
  • HDR: The sensor of your camera does not see the same way as your eye. Its main flaw is that it has a lot of difficulty in balancing the very bright and very dark areas of a scene.

    For example, try to photograph someone when the sun is shining behind him, and you will get either a black face or a white sky. The same goes for a landscape—the sky is blue, but the forest below is black.

    To overcome this problem, there is a technique called “exposure bracketing”. It consists of taking several photos (usually 3 or 5) with different exposures and then compiling them using image editing software.

    The result is an image called “HDR” (for High Dynamic Range). If you are interested, I refer you once again to Google and YouTube which are full of all kinds of tutorials.

    However, avoid the “pushy” HDR as we see too much on the Internet! It must remain natural. Here are some examples of quite catastrophic HDR (here and here).

  • Vignetting: Vignetting is the dark “halo” that appears on the edges of a photograph, which is usually due to a flaw of certain lenses. The absence of vignetting is, therefore, a sign of quality of the material you use. What is curious, even paradoxical, is that it is very popular with Instagram users. Personally, I’m not against it as long as it remains discreet. As with HDR, pushy effects can ruin a very nice photo.

  • IMAGE 61 Visualization of a vignetting on a grid Visualization of a vignetting on a grid.
  • IMAGE 62 Visualization of a vignetting on a half image Visualization of a vignetting on a half image.
  • IMAGE 63 Example of vignetting Example of vignetting. 500px
  • The Flash: If you don’t have enough light to illuminate your scene or your subject is against the light, the flash can be of great help. The key here is to know how to send an optimal amount of light, so that your image is neither burnt nor underexposed.

    Most cameras are equipped with a sensor that measures this amount and decides for you the intensity with which the flash will diffuse this additional light. Unfortunately, the result is not always perfect, especially when the flash is integrated.

    The best method, if your camera allows it, is to have an external flash. No need to ruin yourself, an entry-level model and not necessarily the same brand as your camera is more than enough to start. There are many advantages: you can correct its intensity if necessary, direct it towards a surface that will serve as a reflector (white wall or ceiling), avoid the “red-eye” effect, etc.

    Using the flash is not always easy, and there is a reason why entire books are devoted to the various ways of using it. The best thing to do is to practice over and over again until you get the hang of it.

  • The RAW Format: You certainly know the JPG format which is mostly used on the Internet. It is in this format that most non-professional digital cameras save the images they capture. It is a compressed format which limits the size of the files, but which, in return, alters the image. It is what is called a “destructive” format.

    DNG, CR2, NEF, etc. are some examples of RAW formats, which means that they are not compressed, weigh much more, and therefore keep all the data recorded by your sensor. The big advantage of RAW format is that it allows for much more advanced retouching and, therefore, if you are a beginner, will allow you to recover certain exposure or colorimetry errors for example.

    This option is generally available on most SLRs, some compacts, and smartphones. If you have the possibility to shoot in RAW, do it, especially if you want to edit your photos.

  • Product Photos: If you have an online store, you should know that the quality of the images illustrating each item has a significant impact on your customers’ decision to buy. And if you have decided to take care of these photos yourself, here are the 4 parameters to which you must pay the greatest attention:

    • Exposure: Your items must be perfectly lit and contain no strong shadows. For this, a single light source is generally not enough. You will have to equip yourself with several flashes, umbrellas, or even light boxes to ensure an optimal exposure. This is an investment that will quickly pay off if you have several items to photograph.

    • Sharpness: No soft focus here—close your lens to f9 or higher, so that all areas of your item are sharp. This is even more important if you are displaying high-definition images of your products.

    • Colors: Colors attract and flatter the eye. So use them but without abusing them. Use your retouching software to enhance the “vibrancy” of the colors.

    • Don’t frame too tightly: Leave a comfortable space around your product to avoid a feeling of claustrophobia.

  • Travel Photos: This is probably the most popular type of photography found on the Web, and it will be even more difficult to stand out from the others. So be original in your choice of destinations, subjects, and framing. The challenge here will be to come up with something different but that appeals to your blog readers or those who follow you on your Instagram.

Conclusion

That’s it. I’ll stop here. I know there are plenty of other aspects of photography that I haven’t covered and others that I’ve only skimmed over. But again, the goal here is not to make you a photographer. It’s just to help you learn the basics, so that you can do it on your own if you ever need to shoot some images for your project.

I will probably add more content to this article in the coming months, but in the meantime, the only advice I can give you is to keep practicing because it is through practice that you will progress in photography. So, take your camera and go out to photograph whatever inspires you. Vary exposures, viewpoints, and framing, follow the rules, and then break them!

And if you’re not sure how or where to start, look at what others are doing. The Web is full of all kinds of images, so go and see what you like and especially try to understand why you like it. Don’t hesitate to “copy” at the beginning, but quickly find your own artistic identity—the one that will set you apart from the others. Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Steve Mc Curry, Mary Ellen Mark, etc. There are so many great photographers who have inspired younger generations…

This article could be completed or improved with your help. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any question, a relevant remark, a feedback, additional information or spotted any error.Go to comments

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2 comments

  1. Wow! This is great! I’ve always wanted to improve my photography skills but I’m too lazy to read a whole book on this subject so thank you for this article.

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