• Zach

Improve your pictures with one super easy tip!

Updated: Feb 22, 2019



Ever wondered why that picture you took just doesn't show what you thought it would? Ever thought that some people's pictures just look BETTER? Here I'm going to give you one super easy tip that will improve all your pictures.


I taught photography for 5 years, both as a school teacher, and in the community, working with people who had shiny new cameras, but no idea how to use them. My photography has been published in books and magazines and newspapers. For years, I was obsessed with the subject, either shooting or reading articles or watching videos for 2-3 hours EVERY DAY! There are still people who know way more, maybe you're one of them, but I know enough to help most people improve the biggest issue I see when they bring me their pictures and ask "Is this a good photograph?"


Often the answer is " NO!"


But there is usually an easy fix.


The most common problem I see, whether you're shooting with a smartphone or $2000 DSLR is that there is no clear subject for the picture. In other words, you can't tell what it's a picture OF. That's why I always ask the person talking to me about their picture, "What's this a picture of?" And usually, they can't answer. "It's a picture of.... well... I just liked it... I thought it was pretty." And it may well have been pretty, when you looked at it; that doesn't mean it's a good picture.


Let me give you an example that I took with my phone not 5 minutes ago. It's a terrible picture and is a good example of this problem.

GAH! WHAT IS THAT MONSTROSITY? Now, there are A LOT of problems with this picture, but the biggest one to me is that you can't tell what it's supposed to be a picture of. Is it a picture of a couch? A computer? A TV? Who knows?!


But here's the one easy solution to this problem: GET CLOSER TO YOUR SUBJECT! If you can't tell what it's a picture of, have whatever it is fill up more of the frame.


On this next shot, I took it right after the first, and all I did was change the angle of the camera. Same phone, same room, same time. But just by getting closer to my subject and having it fill up more of the frame, you can easily tell what it's of, and why I shot it.



This shot won't win any awards, and I should probably dust my computer, but at least it's a decent picture with a clear subject.


I most frequently see this when people are taking pictures of groups of people, especially when they're all doing an activity like playing sports. Sports can be tricky because you can't always get super close to the action, and unless you have an expensive lens, you won't be able to have a good shot. But the universe is not a fair place, and that's why sports photographers still have a job, it's not easy to do that job well, and it takes a lot of training and expensive gear.


So, next time you're about to take a picture, ask yourself, "What's this picture of?" and if you can't answer that question easily and quickly, point your camera somewhere else.


If you'd like more practical photography tips, subscribe to my blog!


(some of my real work)


If you liked this post, come join the discussion over at The Happiest Teacher Facebook Group! I would love to have your voice added to the discussion! Also, if you're into that Twitter life, come follow me!

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