general photography tips

i was going through some old notes from various places and compiled a list of things that i found pertinent to photography.  this is some general advice that i wish i could a had when i got into the photography thing more seriously.   if some of this is something you already know – sorry.  think of it as a refresher.  some of these notes are from my experience, some of these notes are collected from various sources across the interweb.

Photographing People:

*       Try not to cut off limbs.
*       Try not to cut off part of hands/head/legs/feet.
*       1-2 people, generally set for portrait – vertical composition is best.
*       3 or more people – horizontal composition is best.
*       3 or more people should also overlap each other – no big spaces or gaps.
*       Set focus on the eyes when taking a portrait.
*       Don’t be afraid to get in close.

If you’re taking candid shots – wait until the person is doing something
of interest.  (Not something like scratching their leg/arm.)  It’s not
always necessary to photograph the person all the time – sometimes what
they’re doing is more interesting.  (ex. Prepping food/cooking, a kid
tying their shoe lace, baseball in hand)


*       Try to compose to get full body shots if they’re in action.  (ex. Dog chasing frisbee)
*       Shooting down at animals are sort of boring, try to get down to their eye level – it makes more interesting shots and allows the viewer to be more connected.
*       Full face shots should have focus on their eyes since that’s generally where most people look first.


Flowers are so commonly photographed that the only way to get people to
say wow – “beautiful flower/s” is to separate your shots from average
snapshots to full on composed work.

Flower pictures are weird.  There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground
when photographing them.  i’ve found that either there’s got to be lots
of flowers (ex.field) or up close and personal with one.

1.      Look at the scene before taking a shot – is there a flower in
particular you see that you like?  Don’t just look at the flower either
– unless you’re really zooming in on the flower itself – look at the
background to see if that will look nice in the picture too.

2.      Look around for different angles, sometimes placing the camera
on the knee or setting it on the ground facing up gives interesting
perspectives.   Same thing like animals – try to get to level with the
flower.  If you want to emphasize height – try to shoot the flower from
lower ground and aim up.  If you want to emphasize only one flower in
particular – focus on that one and blur out the rest with your aperture
settings.  If you want to emphasize volume – focus on the flower closest
to you and angle outward.

3.      Also if you’re photographing a single flower, always try to
focus on the closest part of the petal or stamen that’s close to you.
People tend to look at whats in focus first then review the rest.


*       When photographing landscapes (like up in the mountains) try to
use a smaller aperture so you get more DOF.
*       Set your focus to infinity – or towards the mountains for
*       Try to make sure the horizon is straight.  Crooked horizons look

What makes a great photo is content and composition.  It’s what the
viewer’s eye is drawn to.  The eye tends to be drawn towards the focused
part of an image.  You want to make sure what you want them to look at is in focus and of interest.

A bumble bee: 

lets assume you have a busy bee hanging out in the yard.  you want to get a shot of it buzzing around.  study the bee and its surroundings.  first we can safely assume the bee is doing something of interest – it’s collecting pollen.  Two, flowers make a nice background.  Two elements of making a great photo.  

The hardest part about this scenario is that bees tend to move fast and frequently.  Trick to do is anticipate his next move.  Have the camera ready to fire as soon as he comes into focus.

what i’m about to suggest next is always up for debate.  for the digital age, we have the convenience of the delete button.  we can splurge on hundreds of photos and work the trial and error angle till our camera shutters die.  i admit that i’ve not been one to master composition and creativity all in a single shot without practice.  so when i say don’t be afraid to take a lot of pics, don’t.  we can afford it.  the key is to learn from it though.  

anyone can take a thousand photos and come up with 1 or 2 fantastic shots.  the point though is to experiment and LEARN from taking a thousand shots.  that way the next thousand shots you’ll have more keepers.   of course this would apply more so to the person who’s just beginning photography versus someone who’s already more established.

Back to the bee…  It might take 30-50 photos of that bee to get it in focus.  Shoot in burst mode (continuous shoot mode), then put the camera in that mode and fire away.  Chances are – at least ONE of those many photos taken will have that bugger in focus.  

With the exception of modeling – I feel photography should tell a story.
It should try to evoke emotion from the viewer.  A single isolated
flower might evoke ‘loneliness’ while a child caught laughing might
evoke happiness and a smile.  It should bring the viewer into that
single moment.

The best photos are usually by accident – the trick is to figure out how
it happened so we can duplicate it again in the future.


One thought on “general photography tips

  1. thanks a lot for these.

    think you missed one…..

    take lots of photos 😉

    I am fine and you?

    Hope you get settled soon and can click along.

    P.S. what bike? I read nr1 is photography nr2 bikes….

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