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The Best Photo Tip I Ever Received… What Was Yours?

The following post on The Best Photo Tip I Ever Received is by San Francisco based photographer Jim M. Goldstein. Learn more about him at the end of this post.

Far and away the best photo tip I’ve received to date has been…

“Capture an image with a sharp foreground and the rest will follow.”

What does that mean and why is it so significant?

It means display something in the foreground of your photo that is in sharp focus and the other elements in the mid or background will lend itself well to the scene as a whole whether in soft or sharp focus. By default the human brain strives to find something to focus on and make sense of… a means to put order to the chaos of our surroundings if you will. You can think of this focal point as an anchor. Having an anchor of focus to the scene you photograph is extremely important. In fact I bet most of you don’t even realize you’re looking for a visual anchor when viewing an image. This behavior is an unconscious one, but a very important behavior to exploit in ones photography.

Once you recognize and harness this human behavior you begin to look at photography a little differently. As you line up subjects to photograph you begin to think in terms of what element of your image will be the subject, how to capture it sharply, and how much of the surroundings should then be in focus to accentuate your subject. This later point is a key component to the subject of my next post on understanding depth of field.

Until then… What has been the best photo tip you’ve received to date?

This post was written by Jim M. Goldstein. Jim’s landscape, nature, travel and photojournalism photography is featured on his web site JMG-Galleries.com, and blog. In addition Jim’s podcast “EXIF and Beyond” features photographer interviews and chronicles the creation of some of his images.

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Jim Goldstein is a San Francisco based professional photographer. An author as well as a photographer Jim has been published in numerous publications including Outdoor Photographer, Digital Photo Pro, Popular Photography and has self-published a PDF eBook Photographing the 4th Dimension - Time covering numerous slow shutter techniques. His latest work and writing can be found on his JMG-Galleries blog and on 500px

  • http://flickr.com/photos/daniilb/ Daniil B

    “the question is not what u look at but what u see”

  • mezon

    If it feels good, shoot it!!

  • http://blogrdoc.com/blog david

    Paraphrasing Ben Long:

    Realize that what you see in your mind will not necessarily show up in the picture. There are a dizzying number of reasons for this (camera settings, focal length, 3D vs 2D, …) Systematically work through those issues to deliver the most effective picture.

  • http://www.abeautifuldayphotography.com Dan

    The best tip is to understand exposing for the shadows and developing for the highlights. When it comes to digital just understand what a grey card can do.

  • http://www.danielsheehan.com Seattle Photographer

    Shoot with the fastest glass you can afford wide open to get the best out of focus backgrounds.

  • easyrider1

    take your camera manual every time you go to the bathroon and stay there till your legs fall asleep. do that till you know your camera. i see people asking on different forums how to make their camera do something. read the manual! if you don’t understand how your camera works, how are you going to use the creative zones? that why you’re on this site. right? now go put your manual in the bathroom before you forget

  • Nish

    using aperture mode to take portraits. made a noticeable difference to the quality of my pics.

  • Nikos

    “Shoot black and white for a few years, before you move to color.”

  • Tiffany Raye

    Don’t just shoot what everybody else is shooting…make yours differnent….don’t take it like joe schmo

  • Ana

    One word… EXPERIMENT! Specially those of you who shoot digital, never be afraid to try that one seemingly odd combination of aperture/shutter speed/angle/light source… keep an open mind, some of my best pictures have been born that way. And hey, all you’d be wasting is the time to change the settings! :-)

    “Remove the lens cap”… LOL!!!

  • Raven

    The best advice I have ever recieved was from a friend of mine,

    ” take as many pictures as you can, no matter how awkward the angle or lighting, you never know what picute may be perfect.”

  • http://www.flickr.com/millais Patrick Millais

    Best tip i remember was to put a battery in the camera.
    Ok seriously;
    A quote from Ansel Adams:
    “You don’t take a photograph, you make it”.

  • Jim News

    For sports photographers…”If you saw the play, you missed the shot.”

  • Roger Greener

    Being a creative person in different mediums, I am always my worst critic. I don’t know who said it and it may have been on this site but this quote has helped me be more confident in my own photography skills. “The difference between a good photographer and a great photographer is that a great photographer doesn’t tell you how many shots it took to get that one great picture.”

  • Hagen

    Crop aggressively.

    I’ve interpreted that to impact several areas: 1. aim your viewer’s eye to a specific subject, 2. keep the photo simple, 3. remove anything from the frame that detracts from 1 and 2.

  • http://www.hafuusa.wordpress.com Hafsa

    Love it, that’s my favorite technique to use, it really works. The pics always come out amazing.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/zeddik Kasper

    Stop listening to people telling you how to take photographs.. Go out and learn for yourself..

  • http://foodientravelbug.blogspot.com Mei Teng

    Keep on shooting and experimenting. Read up or find out about stuff you’re not sure of.

  • TarNZ

    you dont need a flash as camera to take awsome pictures, its the person behind the camera that does

  • Elizabeth

    READ. YOUR. MANUAL.

  • Remi

    1. Know your point of interest.
    2. Don’t keep your camera in the bag. Take it out and shoot, shoot, shoot.

  • http://salbehe.wordpress.com/ salbehe

    Read the manual (that comes with yor camera). Works wonder! :cool:

  • Peter

    If you’re leaving the house to go on a photo shoot of any kind, take a picture of your kitchen table before you go. This will remind your that you left your camera’s memory card in the computer, you left the camera battery in the charger, you left the….

  • Nalanti

    Even everyday objects can take phonominal photo’s with the right angle and light, use your imagination

  • Mike

    The best tip i ever got was from an article here, don’t remember which one. Someone claimed he spent more time considering the background than the foreground objects. I have changed my way of shooting after reading that article, and improved my pictures a lot.

  • jim grat

    Best advice I ever got was “slow down!”

  • Wadih Saab

    The best tip i ever got was: Photograph the light… and i think i read it here on DPS!

  • Chris macLeod

    My best tip

    Sigh, take your camera with you, everywhere you go. Everything else is irrelevant if you don’t have your camera with you. You can not get any shot if you don’t have your camera :)

    T

  • Sarah Wyld

    If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.
    Robert Capa

  • http://www.digitaldias.com Pedro Dias

    The best advice I have been given was not a general advice per se, but an introduction to using the histogram to judge exposure instead of chimping.

  • GDWSR

    The first on that comes to mind it that the “Rule of Thirds” is an oversimplification of the Golden Ratio. And the Golden Ratio involves Golden Spirals, Golden Arcs, Golden Angles, Golden Rectangles, and several others. That understanding opened up a whole lot of other possibilities in composition using the principle. The Rule of Thirds is just a good start; continue beyond it.

    The other advice that I am working on was given by an artist friend that said to me, ” Be more intuitive when shooting and less structured.”

  • GDWSR

    The first on that comes to mind it that the “Rule of Thirds” is an oversimplification of the Golden Ratio. And the Golden Ratio involves Golden Spirals, Golden Arcs, Golden Angles, Golden Rectangles, and several others. That understanding opened up a whole lot of other possibilities in composition using the principle. The Rule of Thirds is just a good start; continue beyond it.

    The other advice that I am working on was given by an artist friend that said to me, ” Be more intuitive when shooting and less structured.”

  • http://www.nathanfrankephotography.com Nathan

    Another one from A Adams: Visualize the final product. How do you want the scene to look on paper (on the web)? Then adjust the camera, lighting, post processing however you need to achieve that result.

    In other words, think before you press the shutter.

  • http://www.vivikasphotography.com Vivika’s Photography

    Always bring your camera with you. How can you create a photograph without the camera?

  • mark munywoki

    stop reading,take those photos..

  • http://Andresrecinos.com Andres Recinos

    That your first 10,000 images are your worst.

Some older comments

  • Andres Recinos

    March 21, 2012 07:48 am

    That your first 10,000 images are your worst.

  • mark munywoki

    January 1, 2012 09:39 pm

    stop reading,take those photos..

  • Vivika's Photography

    October 28, 2011 04:35 pm

    Always bring your camera with you. How can you create a photograph without the camera?

  • Nathan

    September 3, 2011 05:06 am

    Another one from A Adams: Visualize the final product. How do you want the scene to look on paper (on the web)? Then adjust the camera, lighting, post processing however you need to achieve that result.

    In other words, think before you press the shutter.

  • GDWSR

    June 24, 2011 01:48 am

    The first on that comes to mind it that the "Rule of Thirds" is an oversimplification of the Golden Ratio. And the Golden Ratio involves Golden Spirals, Golden Arcs, Golden Angles, Golden Rectangles, and several others. That understanding opened up a whole lot of other possibilities in composition using the principle. The Rule of Thirds is just a good start; continue beyond it.

    The other advice that I am working on was given by an artist friend that said to me, " Be more intuitive when shooting and less structured."

  • GDWSR

    June 24, 2011 01:48 am

    The first on that comes to mind it that the "Rule of Thirds" is an oversimplification of the Golden Ratio. And the Golden Ratio involves Golden Spirals, Golden Arcs, Golden Angles, Golden Rectangles, and several others. That understanding opened up a whole lot of other possibilities in composition using the principle. The Rule of Thirds is just a good start; continue beyond it.

    The other advice that I am working on was given by an artist friend that said to me, " Be more intuitive when shooting and less structured."

  • Pedro Dias

    May 1, 2011 05:05 pm

    The best advice I have been given was not a general advice per se, but an introduction to using the histogram to judge exposure instead of chimping.

  • Sarah Wyld

    January 22, 2011 06:04 am

    If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough.
    Robert Capa

  • Chris macLeod

    January 22, 2011 03:27 am

    My best tip

    Sigh, take your camera with you, everywhere you go. Everything else is irrelevant if you don't have your camera with you. You can not get any shot if you don't have your camera :)

    T

  • Wadih Saab

    January 21, 2011 11:30 pm

    The best tip i ever got was: Photograph the light... and i think i read it here on DPS!

  • jim grat

    January 21, 2011 10:45 am

    Best advice I ever got was "slow down!"

  • Mike

    January 21, 2011 05:47 am

    The best tip i ever got was from an article here, don't remember which one. Someone claimed he spent more time considering the background than the foreground objects. I have changed my way of shooting after reading that article, and improved my pictures a lot.

  • Nalanti

    December 22, 2010 11:23 pm

    Even everyday objects can take phonominal photo's with the right angle and light, use your imagination

  • Peter

    June 30, 2010 02:19 pm

    If you're leaving the house to go on a photo shoot of any kind, take a picture of your kitchen table before you go. This will remind your that you left your camera's memory card in the computer, you left the camera battery in the charger, you left the....

  • salbehe

    November 26, 2009 06:45 pm

    Read the manual (that comes with yor camera). Works wonder! :cool:

  • Remi

    September 4, 2009 02:10 pm

    1. Know your point of interest.
    2. Don't keep your camera in the bag. Take it out and shoot, shoot, shoot.

  • Elizabeth

    September 4, 2009 12:34 pm

    READ. YOUR. MANUAL.

  • TarNZ

    September 4, 2009 09:35 am

    you dont need a flash as camera to take awsome pictures, its the person behind the camera that does

  • Mei Teng

    September 2, 2009 06:52 pm

    Keep on shooting and experimenting. Read up or find out about stuff you're not sure of.

  • Kasper

    August 11, 2009 06:21 pm

    Stop listening to people telling you how to take photographs.. Go out and learn for yourself..

  • Hafsa

    August 11, 2009 08:49 am

    Love it, that's my favorite technique to use, it really works. The pics always come out amazing.

  • Hagen

    June 12, 2009 05:28 am

    Crop aggressively.

    I've interpreted that to impact several areas: 1. aim your viewer's eye to a specific subject, 2. keep the photo simple, 3. remove anything from the frame that detracts from 1 and 2.

  • Roger Greener

    June 12, 2009 02:31 am

    Being a creative person in different mediums, I am always my worst critic. I don't know who said it and it may have been on this site but this quote has helped me be more confident in my own photography skills. "The difference between a good photographer and a great photographer is that a great photographer doesn't tell you how many shots it took to get that one great picture."

  • Jim News

    June 9, 2009 12:28 pm

    For sports photographers..."If you saw the play, you missed the shot."

  • Patrick Millais

    June 1, 2009 12:01 am

    Best tip i remember was to put a battery in the camera.
    Ok seriously;
    A quote from Ansel Adams:
    "You don't take a photograph, you make it".

  • Raven

    May 6, 2009 08:13 am

    The best advice I have ever recieved was from a friend of mine,

    " take as many pictures as you can, no matter how awkward the angle or lighting, you never know what picute may be perfect."

  • Ana

    April 12, 2009 06:09 pm

    One word... EXPERIMENT! Specially those of you who shoot digital, never be afraid to try that one seemingly odd combination of aperture/shutter speed/angle/light source... keep an open mind, some of my best pictures have been born that way. And hey, all you'd be wasting is the time to change the settings! :-)

    “Remove the lens cap”... LOL!!!

  • Tiffany Raye

    April 8, 2009 11:21 pm

    Don't just shoot what everybody else is shooting...make yours differnent....don't take it like joe schmo

  • Nikos

    March 30, 2009 10:10 am

    "Shoot black and white for a few years, before you move to color."

  • Nish

    January 29, 2009 01:14 am

    using aperture mode to take portraits. made a noticeable difference to the quality of my pics.

  • easyrider1

    October 24, 2008 05:56 am

    take your camera manual every time you go to the bathroon and stay there till your legs fall asleep. do that till you know your camera. i see people asking on different forums how to make their camera do something. read the manual! if you don't understand how your camera works, how are you going to use the creative zones? that why you're on this site. right? now go put your manual in the bathroom before you forget

  • Seattle Photographer

    September 27, 2008 07:47 am

    Shoot with the fastest glass you can afford wide open to get the best out of focus backgrounds.

  • Dan

    July 19, 2008 05:28 am

    The best tip is to understand exposing for the shadows and developing for the highlights. When it comes to digital just understand what a grey card can do.

  • david

    July 2, 2008 05:07 am

    Paraphrasing Ben Long:

    Realize that what you see in your mind will not necessarily show up in the picture. There are a dizzying number of reasons for this (camera settings, focal length, 3D vs 2D, ...) Systematically work through those issues to deliver the most effective picture.

  • mezon

    June 27, 2008 02:52 pm

    If it feels good, shoot it!!

  • Daniil B

    June 19, 2008 02:14 pm

    "the question is not what u look at but what u see"

  • Olivier H

    June 13, 2008 05:30 pm

    # Jennifer Zandstra Says:
    2) Natural light is best

    I beg to differ :
    If using artificial light, use it off camera!

  • Danny

    June 5, 2008 05:36 am

    Sometimes you need photoshop to change the composition, light, color of something, etc...

    I use when the composition isn't right or if I want to change the color of something in the photograph.

  • Danny

    June 5, 2008 05:33 am

    The best tip I would say is "pay attention to the light"

    really helps

    use it every time i take a photograph.

    ps: "photoshop is not cheating"

  • Nathan Black

    June 4, 2008 09:04 am

    The three best pieces of advice I've got so far:

    1) If you saw it you missed it. Always be ready to shoot.

    2) Print you photos more. It forces you to go through your shots and apply a critical eye to them. There is something magical when you have your photos in your hand. It makes them come alive.

    3) Shoot more.

  • Martin Gommel

    June 4, 2008 12:58 am

    Hey Jim, hey Darren !
    Well, my best tip that I received sounded like this :

    "Take thousands and thousands of shots, than you will get better"Never has brought me a tip so far than this one.

    I received it in an email from a professional photographer which I had asked to answer my question of how to get a better photographer.

  • Greg

    June 2, 2008 12:57 am

    Take lots of shots!!!

  • John

    June 1, 2008 08:42 pm

    never under estimate your clients.

  • GL

    June 1, 2008 07:07 am

    "Your photo will be no better than the quality of the light... if the light is mediocre, do not expect anything more than a mediocre photo"

    "You can't take a great photo if you leave your camera at home"

  • Wendy

    May 30, 2008 10:24 pm

    Always focus on the eyes, whether this be a person, an animal or even a statue. The rest of the photo may be softly blurred, but if the eye is in focus it will look artistic overall.

  • Junior

    May 30, 2008 06:23 pm

    Train your "photography mode" thinking - once you get used to your camera and lens(es), you will memorize the way you see through the viewfinder and then look at the world around you like you would see it through the viewfinder. See the pictures around, ready for you to take them. This way, you save time and will be always prepared to shoot. Think photography!

  • Rob

    May 30, 2008 04:52 pm

    For me photgraphy is 80% composition so I always "FILL THE FRAME".

  • MarianoPR

    May 30, 2008 02:34 pm

    Shoot in RAW... shoot in RAW!

  • Bruce

    May 30, 2008 02:22 pm

    1) You are photographing the light.
    2) Fill flash for portrait shots on sunny days.

  • pya

    May 30, 2008 01:32 pm

    paint the photograph with lights.

  • Simon San Thane

    May 30, 2008 01:15 pm

    1. The larger the aperture, the more creamy the background...

    2. After focusing, move your camera a little bit to adjust the
    sharper distance...

    3. Make sure extra Cards and spare battery always in your bag...

  • Ray Farris

    May 30, 2008 12:14 pm

    "Fill the frame, as space is always exaggerated in a photograph"

  • Bayo

    May 30, 2008 10:54 am

    -Leave some air ubove people heads.
    -FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS!!!
    -Always carry enough batteries

  • Andy Helms

    May 30, 2008 10:46 am

    "A camera ain't nothin' but a box that lets the light in"

  • R Darryl Cox

    May 30, 2008 09:56 am

    The best advice that I ever have gotten was from Vincent Versace at one of his seminars.

    Paraphrased he said: 'If you see something that grabs your stop and photograph it right then. Do not say I will come back later and shoot it because you won't.'

    I live by that and it is a good bit of advice.

  • Margaret Gilet

    May 30, 2008 09:26 am

    1) Understand your equipment
    2) Study the type of photography you prefer - books, magazines, galleries
    3) Take on board constructive criticism
    4) Challenge yourself
    5) Learn to 'read' photographs - light, composition, depth of field etc.
    6) Analyze your own photographs - be very critical
    7) Congratulate yourself when you have THAT special image

  • Tim Martin

    May 30, 2008 08:42 am

    Good pictures can be had with average cameras. But to take a really "good" or "great" picture, you need to have a higher end DSLR. Then learn how to use it. It's sort of like listening to digital recordings on a $100 stereo system. I had a 4megapixel Kodak and took good photos. I made the switch to a DLSR and have never looked back. As a previous poster Bilka said, buy the best camera yo can afford.

  • Gerry Vrbensky

    May 30, 2008 08:16 am

    When shooting portaits in bright sunlight use a flash to reduce facial shadows.

  • Gerry Vrbensky

    May 30, 2008 08:12 am

    When doing weddings, scout the area and take test shots a day or so earlier. Install fresh batteries or recharged batteries the day of the wedding and keep a few spares close by. Use two or more memory cards incase one fails so all is not lost. Have a second photographer if posible. Have a check of list of the type of "must have" photos that the wedding party requires. You'll only get one chance so preparation is the key.

  • steaminhaggis

    May 30, 2008 06:04 am

    Never stop learning.

  • Jamie H

    May 30, 2008 05:55 am

    Whilst I don't believe that "photoshop is cheating", I do believe that photoshop isn't photography. To me photography is the art of capturing an image, and for me getting the best image with the camera is most important. I much prefer to be outside shooting photos and experimenting with exposure, focus and composition than sat in front of a computer tweaking a picture until there is nothing left of the original.

    Changing white balance, brightness and sharpening are all necessary parts of Digital photography but if you don't have a good picture to begin with then its all a waste of time.

  • Peggy

    May 30, 2008 05:36 am

    among others already mentioned, here's one that has stuck with me:
    stop and take a look behind you after you have shot the story in front of you...there are many times interesting stories going on right behind you.

  • R. A. Speight

    May 30, 2008 05:08 am

    Difuse a harsh flash quickly with a white plastic bag. Simply cover the flash (be careful not to cover the lens!)and shoot!!

  • Charlie

    May 30, 2008 04:52 am

    My best photo tip was rule of thirds. I found I could take two photos with identical attributes, but when I positioned the subject with the rule of thirds, the photos always look 10 times better.

  • jastereo

    May 30, 2008 04:48 am

    If you're shooting outside, shoot w/ the light coming over either shoulder (I.E. sun behind you and at an angle) if at all possible. Works almost every time.

    To add to one that was above, if you're taking pictures inside or of kids you need a 50mm lens. Not only will it help you learn not to stand still (no zoom) the 1.8/1.4 will let you shoot without flash most of the time. Your pictures will be immeasurably better for the cost of a 100$ lens that you will have forever. Get one. Period.

  • Adam Christie

    May 29, 2008 08:36 am

    Rule of thirds for me, especially in landscape shots.

  • Rusty

    May 29, 2008 08:28 am

    Shut up and shoot!!

  • Chet

    May 29, 2008 12:27 am

    Would you put it on your wall?

  • Gail Peck

    May 28, 2008 10:30 pm

    Light management.

  • Teineli

    May 28, 2008 04:03 pm

    "Light is EVERYTHING in photography"

    Without light there is no photo.

    But the best advice was how to REALLY learn about that. When I was novice photographer my frind told mo to pick a target (ie. building and some trees) and photograph same place in Morning sun, Midday sun, evening sun, half cloudi, cludy day, winter, summer and then look how diffirent picture was from diffirent angles and diffirently scatterd light.

    Second "lesson" was to photograph a person in bright daylight from every angle so that person would allways look directly in camera. Every photo with and without direct fillflash from camera. That way you have pictures of person with every possible angle of sunlight.

    These two practise lessons really showd me ten years ago how light works in photography. They both took roll of film and have saved me MANY MANY rolls of film after plus learning rally easy how light works and how significant it is.

  • Gregory Block

    May 28, 2008 01:54 pm

    Best advice I received:

    "Before taking a single photo, go and pick up 'Understanding Exposure' and read it."

  • Andrés Torres

    May 28, 2008 01:50 pm

    The best tip: Look, compose, shoot and compose again

  • Christian James

    May 28, 2008 10:10 am

    There's nothing like a nice piece of glass!

  • TikiPundit

    May 28, 2008 09:28 am

    From SLR film days: "Spend time with a 50mm lens." The idea is that you will best learn composition by forcing yourself to shoot only with a 50mm.

  • Scott

    May 28, 2008 08:42 am

    Best Tip i got was "Know your gear"

  • George L Smyth

    May 28, 2008 03:57 am

    "Take too much film."

    Actually, I think I made this one up, but more probably this is what someone said to me. Not only does it mean to make sure that you have what is needed to ensure success, but also to take exceptional care with each shot to ensure it is captured properly.

  • Dan Wolfgang

    May 28, 2008 03:37 am

    Don't remember where I learned it, but the most valuable advice I received came when I was shooting film:

    If it's worth taking one photo of, it's worth taking a whole roll of.

    What's it mean? Take more pictures, basically, but of the same subject. 24 or 36 shots gave an opportunity to experiment with perspective, light, focus, and exposure. I created a lot of interesting work that way, and it's definitely helped me to understand the technical side of things better than ever, as well as greatly improved my eye for what's interesting.

  • AaronK

    May 28, 2008 03:17 am

    Don't be ambiguous with your composition.

    Either include something in the frame or crop it out. Don't leave something floating precariously close to the edge of frame - not quite in the photo and not quite cut off by the edge of frame. Always be decisive with your edges.

  • Peter

    May 28, 2008 03:04 am

    First answer the question...Why am I taking this photograph.

  • Brian Rueb

    May 28, 2008 02:30 am

    The best advice I've gotten was,

    "Do you REALLY want a photo of this?"

    I got the advice first day of my first photography class, and it's served as a basis for every picture I've taken since. If I can answer 'Yes..I DO want a photo of this.' then I can decide if I should move in, or out...or how to compose it...a lot of times, I'll be shocked, that I answer...'no...I don't really want a picture of this.' and I move on.

    It was more helpful of a philosophy when I shot film, because I was limited in frames...so I couldn't afford (literally) to waste frames

  • D. T. North

    May 28, 2008 01:42 am

    Best tip I ever heard:
    "Take notes on every shot - you will learn far more from your failures."

    In film, that grew cumbersome. In Digital, EXIF data covers most of the info you need. But don't be afraid to take other notes (time of day, etc).

    Second best tip I ever heard:
    "Find a favorite shooting location and return often. Not only will you catch subtle changes over time, but you have a basis for comparison as you grow."

    As anyone that's familiar with my work will notice, I spend a lot of time shooting around Lake Naomi near Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania.

  • Teewinot

    May 28, 2008 01:15 am

    I think the best tip I ever got was that LIGHT is the key. Every time I shoot a scene I try to examine available light. Then I think about how shooting that same scene at different times of the day could improve the shot. Even though I've always known about the "magic hours" (1 hour after sunrise and 1 hour before sunset), I now try to be more active about shooting during these times of the day...what a difference!

  • mw

    May 28, 2008 12:15 am

    In digital photography, film is cheap.

  • Rikk

    May 27, 2008 11:27 pm

    I'm far from a novice, is there something that comes before novice?

    Anyway, I seem to take some decent shots keeping the "rule of thirds" in the back of my mind and always taking several as opposed to one. Almost always do I find the subsequent photos are better than the one I thought was exactly as I wanted it. Don't know where I learned these techniques, probably browsing in a bookstore somewhere, but they have made my photography better.

  • xlt

    May 27, 2008 11:02 pm

    Photography is not about pressing the button. It starts in your head - its what i want to say.

  • Theis

    May 27, 2008 10:44 pm

    I will share here :)

    - If you wan't to take good pictures stand in front of more interresting things.

    - The chief enemy of creativity is common sense

    - Still of hand does not make up for emptiness of heart

    An what you need... Passion, Vission, Technique, Inspiration and creativity.

  • Smitty

    May 27, 2008 10:19 pm

    Somewhere between "Fill the frame", and "It's not the camera".

    The first was the tip that literally got me interested in understanding how to actually compose a photo, rather than just blindly snap away at random.

    The second tip I kind of told myself when I first wanted to run out and buy an SLR because I thought it would automatically make me a better photographer. It forced me to not only compose and produce better photos, but it taught me to really fully exploit the technology that I already had. I learned to fully push my point and shoot to the max and while I eventually upgraded to an SLR, I did so only with a full understanding of why.

  • Brian

    May 27, 2008 10:14 pm

    Best for me was:

    Only show your best work.

  • DanaB

    May 27, 2008 09:37 pm

    There are so many! Here are two that have made the most impact for me thus far:

    In photography, it's all about the light. Find the great light and you'll find a great subject there. (I'm not sure where that one came from, I think tis someone Scott Kelby quoted in one of the digital photography books of his)

    "If you want to be a better photographyer, stand in front of more interesting stuff." --Joe McNally

    That being said, 'interesting' is certainly relative!!

    ~~

  • MrTim

    May 27, 2008 07:19 pm

    I think the one that stands out for me is from my brother:

    "Does it look good to you?"

  • Pernod

    May 27, 2008 07:10 pm

    "Digital should be no different from film when you press the shutter"

    This is one that stuck with me, specifically they were talking about 'wasted shots'.

    When you hit the shutter, think to yourself 'is this really worthy of the cost of a negative, the price of printing equipment, the time to process...

    If the answer is no, then change the shot so that it is worth that. Just because digital is 'free', doesn't mean this isn't a good check before you click.

  • KRIS

    May 27, 2008 05:53 pm

    The best tip I got was from Bryan Peterson's book, understanding exposure, regarding metering. The Maestero says the easiest way to meter for a land scape or outdoor photo is to meter the blue sky. He calls them the SKY BROTHERS. I tried this and found this a very valuable tip. The whole book is a great read.
    Kris

  • Stephen

    May 27, 2008 05:39 pm

    "A meaningful image tells a story"

    I originally come from a photo journalist/journalist background. I learned that whatever you are taking a photograph for, you are telling a story. And like every story it should be one that engages people. Now I do art and commercial stuff, and it's harder if not impossible. However, I try to tell a story in every picture.

    The second is related

    "Don't tell the whole story in an image, let the viewer figure some of it out."

  • Igor

    May 27, 2008 05:34 pm

    One of the main statement I found out after several years of taking pictures.
    I didn't hear this from anyone of my friends-photographers.
    It's rather complex and comprises many artistical and technical moments. But it's essential.

    Try to express your emotion in photo.
    Photo is great emotional impact.
    If you compile an image with rule of thirds, with good light etc., but without emotion - that will fail the image.
    Express YOUR emotion to outworld. And it can work without rules (but you should know them!). Photo is not only a picture. It's moment of life.

    Observe and remark. Nature, people etc.
    If you think great pictures can be captured only in great places of the world you can be dissapointed.
    They are around us! And they are in ourselfes!
    You must come to this by yourself. Via your mistakes and experience. Different technical aspects of image taking and editing can be learned. But your attitude, your relation to life is only yours! Not others.

    I think, I wrote it shortly, but it's only a "Response/comment window". :)

  • Bilka

    May 27, 2008 03:58 pm

    Look beyond the obvious.

    The viewfinder is the frame to your world--use it to your advantage and show others what you see.

    Craft images don't just take pictures.

    The camera is only a tool. Purchase the best camera you can afford and use it to its fullest but don't ever mislead yourself into thinking that a better camera will make you a better photographer. It won't.

    Bilka

  • Poi

    May 27, 2008 03:46 pm

    "Keep it simple"

    Best advice I got from my teacher.

  • Andrew Ma

    May 27, 2008 03:11 pm

    Always check your ISO before shooting

  • Aithnea

    May 27, 2008 03:02 pm

    Take your camera every where with you. Take pictures off. Try new prespectives. And most of all have fun. I think the fun part was the most important. If you are passionate about what you are taking a picture of, some how that passion translates into the picture.

  • Canadian Mum

    May 27, 2008 02:23 pm

    Shoot lots... and often...

    and... pay attention to the background!

  • Seth Roberts

    May 27, 2008 01:32 pm

    "Never look at the Sun through a telephoto lens."
    --Jack "One-Eye" Montgomery

  • Laura

    May 27, 2008 01:12 pm

    K.I.S.S.
    Keep It Simple Stupid
    hurts my feelings every time- but works!

  • Alex

    May 27, 2008 12:56 pm

    "photoshop is not cheating"

  • Bill Boem

    May 27, 2008 12:55 pm

    I don't remember where I heard it or read it, but the most encouraging advice I ever got as a beginning photographer was the following:

    The difference between great photographers and a not so great photographers is that the great ones don't show their crappy pictures.

    This made me realize that even the pros shoot bad pics and don't be discouraged. Just shoot tons of pictures, get rid of the bad ones and learn from your successes and failures.

  • Ryan

    May 27, 2008 12:52 pm

    Fill the frame

  • MIchael Zahora

    May 27, 2008 10:13 am

    Exposure, exposure, exposure... Did I mention exposure?

    Visualize what you want the image to look like and then use your exposure to get that look (adjust aperture, shutter speed and ISO for desired affect).

    Now, this is assuming you know composition already.

  • taro

    May 27, 2008 10:00 am

    1) learn the third rules
    2) use manual
    3) shoot in raw
    4) experiment, its bitmap, its free!

  • Sreejith

    May 27, 2008 09:59 am

    Photography is all about capturing light in the right amount in the right way.

  • Fredrik Steffen

    May 27, 2008 07:58 am

    Have fun

  • Charlie

    May 27, 2008 07:10 am

    Less is more-- More is less Keep it simple

  • Grant

    May 27, 2008 05:52 am

    Take the lense cap off.

    All my pictures were much too dark, then someone told me "Take the lense cap off, stupid". Following that advice has made a huge difference in my results.

    ;)

  • Nadine

    May 27, 2008 05:46 am

    Get down to children's level.

  • Mark Kenny

    May 27, 2008 05:40 am

    There are two tips I read somewhere, but they're both similar...

    First, "you can't be a photographer without a camera". I have a 450D (yup, got it last week, upgraded my 300D), but lenses can be a hassle to carry, so I always carry my Digital Ixus for grabbing moments when I'm not "really" shooting.

    Second, "Shoot often and shoot many." Especially in the age of digital, don't shoot one, shoot five pictures, 10 pictures, try different settings. The more experience you have, the more you'll learn and the better a photographer you'll become.

    Agree with Jonathan, always shoot RAW, then you have to process so you become more involved with your digital files and understand the process (I say process, not art or skill, anyone can learn the basics of processing a RAW file, then it's up to them to style a photo the way they choose). Shooting JPG is like taking polaroids, you might get lucky, with a digital negative you can process a file any way you want and it takes you into the darkroom stage of photography, another creative part, my favourite part cos I'm a metadata nerd ;-)

  • Alex

    May 27, 2008 05:35 am

    It's not camera. Not the lens, filter or sensor. It's all in your hands and eyes.

  • Sybren

    May 27, 2008 05:33 am

    The best tip I ever read: Bring your camera with you.

    Without that, you can forget about making any kind of photograph.

  • a husband

    May 27, 2008 05:31 am

    Though this one isn't so critical anymore, but "Check your ISO!" always rings in my head AFTER I've left the shoot and realized I shot the whole thing on much-too-high ISO setting.

  • Jonathan

    May 27, 2008 04:13 am

    White balance and exposure are critical! Shoot in raw to have the most control of both.

    The example photo above is a huge example of the importance of white balance. On a trip to Death Valley a couple of years back, I shot all the photos in JPEG, and all the shots were completely underexposed and the white balance was off due to the extreme brightness of the sand. I have never been completely satisfied with those photos since.

  • G Dan Mitchell

    May 27, 2008 04:12 am

    The best tip I ever got came from my father way back when he introduced me and my siblings to photography when we were children - starting us with box cameras and, once we earned the right, letting us use his camera and eventually teaching us to develop film and make prints.

    His advice - which I generally ignored - was "take three steps closer."

    Superficially this seems pretty vague, and you can even think of lots of shots in which this might actually be the wrong advice. But in terms of getting one to focus on the main subject - or even to make sure that there is a main subject - it is advice I still think of often when I photograph.

    Dan

  • Jesper Revald

    May 27, 2008 04:11 am

    1) First know all the rules, then you can go and break them

  • UncleSam

    May 27, 2008 04:02 am

    Stop reading - go shooting.

  • Jennifer Zandstra

    May 27, 2008 03:56 am

    1) Focus on the eyes when shooting people
    2) Natural light is best
    3) Set up your camera settings ahead of time

  • Cedric

    May 27, 2008 03:55 am

    "Don't take photographs of subjects, take photographs of the light"

  • Joe Doherty

    May 27, 2008 03:25 am

    Coverage = horizontal, vertical, wide, medium and closeup.

  • My Camera World

    May 27, 2008 03:19 am

    The best ever photo tip does change with time as we learn new skills and techniques. What is best one time may be just basic knowledge latter on.

    The best tip I received very early on in my photography learning journey was when shooting an image examine the 4 corners and make sure they are ok.

    This is the one thing that I tell everyone just starting out in photography. The compositional rules can come later.

    Bt this I mean that there is nothing in the corners of the viewfinder that is distracting form the central subject. For most of us it is relatively easily to focus on the main subject and to find an interesting perspective to capture what we find interesting, but we tend to be so focused that we may forget to examine the rest of the scene for objects that don’t fit. Bright highlights, disconnected object sticking in. Things that just don’t add to the image.

    Niels Henriksen

  • Fuzzy

    May 27, 2008 03:01 am

    Advice that my old USSR Zenit camera gave me after I spent around 10$ for my first photo film filled with snapshot-like trash...

    "Think BEFORE you press the shutter"

    Therefore, I'm putting much more effort in my photos now and it works, you know.

  • SandraC

    May 27, 2008 02:56 am

    Take a step back...

  • Barbara Ling

    May 27, 2008 02:35 am

    I'm the webmaster for my karate dojo and spent several weeks getting optimal shots for all of my senseis. What I discovered as a 'best tip' dealt with portraits - have the subject stand with their body at a 45 degree angle to you but have their eyes look directly at you.

    The photos looked 'way better than direct face-forward shots; I was also able to use similar techniques for the
    class storyboarding. You can see them at

    http://www.amatosgojuryu.com/instructors.htm
    http://www.amatosgojuryu.com/gallery.htm

    Taught myself quite alot during that time.....

    Barbara

  • scott harris

    May 27, 2008 02:32 am

    if you photo is not good, you are probably not close enough!

  • Romain

    May 27, 2008 01:45 am

    The best tip I ever received and which I used for every single photo since was:

    "Remove the lens cap"

    worked wonders.

  • Jim

    May 27, 2008 01:14 am

    My best tip comes from Ansel Adams, "You don't take a photograph, you make it".

    I start with:
    * setting up your camera in advance
    * shooting in RAW
    * scoping out your shoot or studying your subjects face
    * composing in the camera
    Then I go to post production:
    * making global adjustments
    * making local adjustments in post processing software
    * apply filters, sharpening and blur as needed
    * Using techniques such as HDR and Orton
    * even combining photos using layers
    * allow my imagination to create a more artistic compos ion.

    This is by no means to take away from the purist who believes you should never have to make adjustments. However, until they make paper or screens that can produce the same eleven stops of light my eye sees as well as the vibrant colors and contrast that my brain remembers or prefers, but Ansel Adams' quote will always be my guide.

  • frank

    May 27, 2008 01:11 am

    Get closer!

  • Jack Foster Mancilla

    May 27, 2008 01:10 am

    Shoot what you want to see. ... That encompases framing, lighting, depth of field. ... Pick your subject, and shoot that the way you want it seen.

  • Sam Cadby

    May 27, 2008 01:07 am

    'Don't take boring photos'

    Easy to forget ;-)

  • Kevin

    May 27, 2008 01:04 am

    Light is the key.

  • Tim

    May 27, 2008 01:01 am

    That's simple. Fill the frame. Best advice I ever got.

  • Bob Fantastic

    May 27, 2008 12:54 am

    The best photo tip I ever received was-
    "Photoshop is cheating", from a friend whos name I don't remember.
    It's stuck with me, it makes me strive to take 'good' photos, rather than photos that I can 'improve' later on.

  • Train

    May 27, 2008 12:50 am

    The best photo tip I ever received was to read this blog

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