10 Quick and Easy Tips to improve your Photography

10 Quick and Easy Tips to improve your Photography

It’s a new week and I’ve got a new set of tips to improve your photography. This week’s tips focus on planning and decision making while taking your shots…. Eventually it will feel like second nature and you won’t even be aware of the process, until then… keep these tips in mind.


1. Daydream

Yes, that’s right keep dreaming about your shot. Pre-Visualize in your mind what it will look like and walk through the steps you need to take to get it. This is a shot I thought about for several weeks before finally setting it up and taking it. With only one camera, I often feel like I’m constantly juggling lenses!


2. Use wide lens

Try to use wide lenses for landscape shots when you want to create an impact of size. You can use a wide range of lenses to shoot landscapes but the vistas are amazing if you shoot with the widest lens possible because they give you a bigger angle of view.


3. Sharpen Your Subjects

Keep your main subjects sharp. Sharp details in the image truly draw the viewers’ eyes towards the subject. Use your tripod in low light conditions to make sharp pictures. Try to make use of the new sharpening effect in Adobe Camera RAW. It does a great job and has improved from previous versions.


4. Keep it Clean

A background makes or breaks your shot so be sure to think carefully about the how you place your subject. Keep the background clean, simple and clutter free. Think about where the viewer should be focused….


5. You Can’t Have Too Many Clouds

Use fluffy white clouds on a blue sky to produce dramatic skies. Is it overcast with too many clouds to see the sky? The sky is now a giant soft box. This is the time to shoot portraits or waterfalls and streams with a motion blur effect.


6. Behind Every Great Shot is the Sun

Stand with the sun at your back and the light of the sun falling on your subject. Unless you are making artistic pictures always try to keep the sun behind you.


7. Light Trails

Enhance your dawn and night urban shots with light trails. Use vehicles or any other moving lights to add interest, mood, and drama. Light trails almost always makes the shot interesting (learn: how to shoot light trails).


8. Silhouettes

The key is an uncluttered, lit background. Simply place your subject in the foreground so that you have clean, sharp lines and go for it. Play with placement and angles to make awesome silhouettes (learn: how to shoot Silhouettes).


9. Top to Bottom

Look straight up. Look straight down. Now examine everything in between. There are great shots from every vantage point, including an unexpected angle. Sometimes we focus so much on the obvious shot that we miss something special just a heartbeat away.


10. And finally… It’s a Camera not a Machine Gun

Unless you are taking action shots or a time lapse series, try to reduce the number of shots. Don’t just fire away hoping for something good to appear during editing. Think, move, and adjust your framing before you click the shutter. You’ll develop better instincts and save hours of time editing those hundreds of extra images.


Check out these links to follow the whole series

Amar Ramesh is an emerging photographer from Redmond WA, USA….Photography, to him is a passion with infinite opportunities and he loves to share the lessons and tips that he learned with others….Please visit his Facebook Page for more….He is also in Flickr|Twitter|Portfolio.

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Some Older Comments

  • Anna Patrick October 1, 2010 09:31 pm

    I would add: keep exercising and always have in mind that even the most boring subject can turn with the right skills and vision into a photography masterpiece

  • Kat Landreth September 19, 2010 08:44 am

    Great article! Like many others I agree, #10 is important. For me, shooting film with a manual camera has helped me slow down. I can't fire off shots like I did with my DSLR b/c I don't have/can't afford that much film! Taking the time to meter every shot, choosing aperture and shutter speed deliberately, and get exactly what I wan in the frame takes time. It's worth is though, and I'm starting to be more patient in my digital shooting because of it.

  • Steve Cameron September 18, 2010 09:07 am

    My brother-in-law took a great shot of a lighthouse. What was unique about the shot was that the sun was going down and he found the perfect place to take the picture. He timed it just right at there it was.... The sun was shining right through the top of the lighthouse where the light usually was. It was a fantastic shot. I would show it to you but he would be very upset that I put it on the net.

    Anyway, I love your 10 tips. They are all great.

    If I may add one. I love taking pictures of old things. I think old things bring back memories in all of us. Memories we have barried for years.

  • Kathy Wess September 18, 2010 01:59 am

    Tip#10 - the more I learn, the fewer pictures I need to take. However..... one of my tips for new photographers is to take a couple of shots, and then moving from the Starting Spot each time - one step to the Right and one step to the Left. Move Higher, then Lower. It's amazing how the dynamics change with each moving of the POV. Sometimes, just a six inch move can make the difference between a good image and a great one.

    A second benefit to shoot multiple shots is that shooting a few in a burst usually means the second or third shots are a lot clearer than the first one (not as much camera movement.)

    My own tip. I carry a 1# bag of Poly-Pellets in my car. It's invaluable at stabilizing my camera for shots taken out the window or off the outside of the car. It's also helpful for taking pictures when hauling a Tripod is impractical or not allowed.

  • Poonam September 13, 2010 09:49 pm

    Hey !! nice tips and interesting photographs....I would like to add some more tips like avoid camera shaking, shoot in raw, check your angle and light (very important for exposure)

  • sumi September 13, 2010 05:46 pm

    Thank you for your useful tips . Please , tell me how can i submit assignment photograph ?

  • Guess the Lighting September 9, 2010 12:59 pm

    Thanks for all the tips. I would also add: play with light and lighting. See what different placements can do. Never stop pushing.


  • jeff September 6, 2010 03:14 am

    I don't think I'd say it is always best to have the sun behind you. Cross lighting increases texture which can be very useful in landscape photography. And, of course, rarely would you put the sun behind you when shooting portrait photography.

  • Anne September 5, 2010 12:03 am

    Hi, I just love your photos. I've been wanting to ask for a long time how you do your watermark like you do with the white line across. That is so cool. Thanks.

  • Kimberly Wilson September 4, 2010 10:00 pm


    Love the images! Curious as to what lens you used for # 1.

  • Mark September 3, 2010 03:22 pm

    I do and don't support number 10. I don't support it if it's because your approach is casual or ambivalent but it can be a great option when you are in a place or have a situation that may never happen again. Many times I have not taken enough shots or played through enough visual scenarios to my later regret. Use it with thought but not with callous disregard and you should be rewarded. In which case you take advantage of the 0 development cost of digital (errors)

  • Wayne September 3, 2010 02:31 pm

    Great tips, but can I add another one? It's simply to turn around. When you'e in a new city or walking down the street looking for a great shot, just turn around occasionally. I've found that looking at something from the other side is often worthwhile and makes a more interesting/better picture.

  • Naveen September 3, 2010 05:39 am

    Hi Ramesh,

    I also use Canon T1i but my results are almost always soft. How are you managing such clear, bold, colorful and sharp pictures? Could you pls share your digital workflow? All the pictures are fabulous.

  • Susan B September 3, 2010 04:39 am

    All extraordinary reminders! #10 is my personal tough one!

  • Roman September 3, 2010 03:48 am

    I love all the tips... but number 10 was the most surprising and such a big problem for me... how do I slow down? How do I restrain myself? I wish there would be an article just about that one tip - number 10. Article is great and it just repeated and assured me I'm on the right track... if I only found strenght to implement number 10. LOL (great attached images)

  • Peggy Collins September 3, 2010 03:44 am

    Tip #10 is something I've been reminding myself about lately. I find I'm taking way too many shots...it seems like fun at the time but it's not fun when it comes to dealing with your overloaded hard drive.

    I'm a big fan of the unexpected angle and an uncluttered background...
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/peggycollins/3331033876/' title='Would the real Squiggy please stand up?' url='http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3556/3331033876_95312d8cbc_o.jpg']

  • Jason Collin Photography September 2, 2010 05:18 am

    I especially like the last tip, REDUCING the number of shots taken. This is something I can attest to in my own experience, going from taking hundreds of shots on a simple visit to the park, to now taking maybe 50.

    Nice collection of images and wide ranging tips.

  • MJ September 2, 2010 02:40 am

    Excellent tips, Amar! I will definitely keep these in mind as I practice. Thank you!

  • kate si September 2, 2010 01:53 am

    Are there photos in this article? I'm still not seeing any and am just wondering if I should be.

  • Akasha82 September 1, 2010 11:26 pm

    Great article! These tips will be helpful on improving one's craft for sure. I do agree with #10 as well, photography isn't just clicking the cam, and off you go!

  • Diana Eftaiha September 1, 2010 07:02 pm

    nice!! also i would add develop an eye for light peaks into shadow areas. those create the effects on your subject with the light and shadow areas interact with it and with each other

  • Timo September 1, 2010 06:17 pm

    I can really emphasize tip no. 10:
    A good way is to buy a used analog SLR camera (if you don't have one already), put a 50mm prime lens on and shoot with film.
    This way you are forced to think more before you press the shutter button. The prime lens forces you to compose the picture more consciously.

    @Alastair Moore
    I totally agree with your disagreement with the disagreement! ;-)

    @major bokeh
    An example:
    If one shoots in RAW modus the resulting RAW files are not as sharp as JPEG files. The reason for this is that with JPEG you leave the sharpening process to the inbuilt camera algorithms/software. With RAW files however, you can take control over the sharpening process yourself with post-processing software.
    Some digital compact cameras have quite aggressive sharpening algorithms as a default nowadays.
    Some DSLR lenses are a bit soft wide open. In these cases sharpening in post-processing can be quite helpful.
    However, as Alastair already said - a picture which is out of focus cannot be made sharp...


  • Alastair Moore September 1, 2010 10:55 am

    Cheers for the tips. Some good tips and inspiration.

    @major bokeh, I've got to disagree with your disagreement! Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture etc. are all more than capable of sharpening up images without creating the artifacts you talk about. Sharpening images is, as far as I've always been away, standard practice with digital images.

    Obviously you can't sharpen an out-of-focus image and over sharpening an image will display artifacts but like almost any practice in photography, less is more.

  • Amar Ramesh September 1, 2010 07:44 am

    @Keith I use a Canon T1i and some of the shots were taken in Canon XTi

  • Grandmougin Photography September 1, 2010 07:00 am

    Great tips! I am sure there are many more techniques but it's good to revisit a few because as a photographer I am always learning. In fact, I am practicing panning shots today :-)

    Sharpening your subject can be effective so long as it is done properly. I agree that sharpening for the sake of sharpening an image or sharpening a blurry photo are not good post processing techniques. You want to begin with a sharp image in the first place and that process is done in camera (tripod, handheld techniques, effective use of shutter speed, timer/cable release, etc.). However, I shoot raw and I choose to selectively sharpen my photos (very conservative) to create an impact but only in areas I feel there is a need. For example, in portraits, I may selectively sharpen my subjects eyes.

    FYI...Print (Hi-res) vs. web (low-res) sharpening is very important in this process as well. Adjust accordingly.

  • Major Bokeh September 1, 2010 03:15 am

    Great tips and images.

    But I disagree with number 3, to use post-processing sharpening. If it's not sharp in the image all you'll be doing is creating digital artifacts that make the image look unrealistic and not really sharper. I'd say number three should be, "Be sure you focus deliberately on what you want to emphasize"

    As for number 10, I can see the point, but then again magic happens sometimes when you're spontaneous and fire the shutter a few more times. It's digital now. No cost of film or processing. And how much extra time does it really take to delete a few more images?

    Lastly, number 5 is a great shot all on it's own. No need to ruin it with HDR. The best HDR is the kind you can't tell it was used.

  • Keith September 1, 2010 02:46 am

    Some great tips, and great shots. My pictures never look that good (or clear) I would be interested in knowing what kind on equipment, camera, lenses, filters where used to create such stunning shots.

  • Danferno September 1, 2010 01:54 am

    I highly disagree with the sharpening. It may draw the attention, but in my opinion, it reduces the quality (both technical and artistic) of a photo when done too much, like in the example. HALOs, pure black edges, etc...

  • Scott September 1, 2010 01:50 am

    Don't forget motion blur, like light trails motion blur can add a lot of interest. Surprised this wasn't mentioned.


  • AmyH19 September 1, 2010 01:50 am

    Great tips and photos. I agree on number 10 unless there's little kids involved! :p

  • Postwardreamer September 1, 2010 01:46 am

    Tip 11: Less photoshop

    Photo 1: To obviously photoshopped: You wouldn't hold the objective you are about to throw like that, and the other hand is not ready to grab the falling objective.

    Photo 3: Too much sharpening. It simply looks bad and unreal.

    The other photos are really nice, though :-)

  • Robert September 1, 2010 01:38 am

    I completely agree with these, especially #10 as well. I cant tell you how many shots i used to take hoping to get a good one. This goes for portrait work as well. I would literally take 500-600 a session. Most of them that I shot off a bunch were all so similar it was hard to tell the difference between them. I would spend hours on these trying to pick the"best" one when in reality, they were all good(or all bad, haha). Slow down and enjoy the process!

  • Mei Teng September 1, 2010 01:29 am

    Ditto on tip #10. Great set of images.

  • Ilan (@ilanbr) September 1, 2010 12:15 am

    I strongly support number 10 :D People tend to neglect that.

    And there is another important step - Always carry your camera with you
    Or you can miss moments like this - http://www.ilanbresler.com/2009/10/lexus.html

    Although I do must confess that I find it tedious to go around with my DSLR, so I bought a tiny Ricoh GX200 for this purpose. G11 or LX3 are also great for this purpose.