Capturing great photos can be the easiest yet most complicated thing to master. But every photo will have certain elements that combine that make it great. It’s these combinations that are the anatomy of a great photo. So, if you have ever been disappointed with your photos here are 6 easy to remember checks to ensure you capture the best photos that you can get.
Is it the best time?
There is a perfect time to photograph everything. Often this is the biggest feedback that I give to people when they ask for their images to be reviewed. The fact that they haven’t taken the photo at the best time is what is holding that photo back. This isn’t just about the season, because that doesn’t necessarily make a photo fail. For example, whilst a stormy sky might not be the typical postcard beach shot, it is still possible to capture stunning photos in these conditions.
So, the best time is more around light and whether you are capturing something during the best time in the day. Light changes throughout the day both in terms of quality and intensity. But also, the direction of the light changes as well. So always ask yourself if you are taking the photo at the best possible time. If not aim to do so.
Have you committed to the image?
A great habit to get into is to commit to the shot that you are taking. Too many times I have seen people turn up somewhere take a couple of quick photos and move on. When you decide to add something on your shot list you should aim to capture the very best photo possible. Forget about everything else and just concentrate on capturing the best photo possible at that place however long it takes. Often this will just happen with more time at a location. The more you wait and look around the more you will see and notice things. You may even spot things that you didn’t even see initially. So, before you leave any location ask yourself if you have managed to capture that one iconic shot that encapsulates it.
Did you look beyond the obvious?
It’s a natural reaction to take the obvious photos. In fact, there is nothing wrong in doing that and you should cover off as many angles and compositions as possible, including the obvious shot. But the key is to also try to look for something different. Maybe a unique angle or even just an unusual time. For example, every photographer is guilty of taking photos at eye level the vast majority of the time. But get lower to the ground and the same photo will look completely different. Or find something like trees or arches to naturally frame your composition. These will give your photos a completely different look.
Is there a reason for the photo?
The best photos often tell a story. They can captivate the viewer into wanting to know more. So, whilst there is nothing wrong with a beautiful picture of the Eiffel Tower, to make your work stand out you need to also supplement that with other photos as well. So, try to always ask yourself when you are at a location what the story is that you are trying to tell. A good way to do this is to try to imagine the story being used somewhere like a magazine or newspaper. This should help you visualise the end product and give your photo more context.
Are you using the necessary accessory?
It can be easy to feel lazy and decide to take a photo without using the accessory that you should. For example, a tripod is heavy and cumbersome to carry so why bother when you can simply bump up your ISO? Or why use a neutral density filter to be able to have a longer exposure when you can just take a photo without it? Unfortunately, there is no way around it, if you want to capture great photos you have to be willing to use the ideal equipment for it. So, whilst bumping up your ISO to avoid using a tripod is an option, it will mean more noise in your photos. Too much noise and your photo will begin to look soft. Don’t be lazy, instead think about the end result.
Have you added the finishing touches in post-processing?
There are some people that think that any sort of editing of photos is cheating. But even the likes of Ansel Adams would use techniques such as dodging and burning to enhance the final photo. Whether you are a fan or not, editing your photos by enhancing colours, boosting contrast and adjusting the brightness is all part of the photography process. Because as advanced as modern-day cameras are, they are still no match for the human eye. So, to be able to replicate what you see in a photo will require some form of post-production.
The next time you are about to take a photo, ask yourself if you have taken the time to consider the points above. Doing so will help you end up capturing better and more unique photos. But if there is one thing you should remember it is to never settle for a photo. Make every photo the best that it can be.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission. Dreamstime.