How To Take Professional Photos: A Beginner’s Guide

Are you looking to improve your photography skills? These professional tips will help you make your photos look better. Format TeamFebruary 26, 2019.

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ToFor inexperienced photographers it can be easy to take great photos by simply pointing and shooting. But anyone who’s tried to learn how to take professional photos knows that there’s a lot more to it than that.

To capture great photos, you need to take care of many things.

These tips will help you take your photography to the next step. You will be able to greatly enhance your photos once you master these pro-level techniques.

It’s the greatest part of learning to take professional pictures. This opens up new possibilities. The more professional-looking photos you’ll be able to produce, the better your online photography portfolio will look. And the better your online photography portfolio looks, the more photography jobs you will land.

So, let’s dig in!

1. Learn the Foundations of Composition

Pick a focal point that is strong

The focal point of a photo is the main point of interest. This could be anything, from a tree to a building to an individual (or their eyes). A strong focal point is a key step in how professional photographers take photos. So when you’re planning out or setting up a shot, you should stop and ask yourself, “What do I want viewers to focus on?”

When you are clear about your focal point, you can start to build it. Many of the composition rules below will help you create an interesting focal point that draws in and holds the viewer’s attention.

Keep the Rule of Thirds in Mind

Instead of positioning the focal point in the center of your shot, it can make for a more interesting composition if you follow the rule of thirds. You should not place your most significant elements in your photo center.

Imagine there’s a tic-tac-toe grid in front of your shot. This means that your frame is divided vertically into three parts and split horizontally into two sections. These lines should be followed or placed at any of the points that intersect with them.

It’s one of the easiest ways to learn how to take professional photos. You don’t want your portraits to look like mugshots. This guideline helps you balance the background and main subject.

Use Leading Lines

Leading lines are line shapes in your shot that can help guide a viewer’s eyes to the focal point. These lines can include anything you see that makes a photo line, including fences, buildings or long hallways.

The trick is using them take a viewer’s attention where you want it to go. You can direct their attention directly to the subject of your work or take them along a visual tour through it.

You can change the tone of your compositions by changing how your leading lines are directed. Horizontal leading lines convey calmness and tranquility, while vertical lines may be used to communicate an imposing, strong mood. For more information on why this technique can help with taking professional photos, check out this guide on how to use leading lines in your photography.

Give some thought to it

Perspective has a massive impact on the composition of any photo. You can change the perspective or the distance from which you are shooting to completely alter the meaning and mood of the images.

You can easily see this by taking the same subject from both above and below. A bird’s-eye view can make a person in your shot seem small, while shooting from below can make it look like the same person is now towering over you. A person can look small if they are photographed far away. However, a close-up shot can give the impression of being powerful.

When setting up a shot, think about the perspective. Don’t be afraid to walk around your subject to search for interesting angles, and see how drastically it can change the composition’s mood. You will be one step closer in your quest to create professional-looking photos.

Give depth

Finding ways to convey depth is another important step in learning how to take professional photos. This rule can make your photos look flat and dull if you don’t follow it. To convey depth, you should include elements in the background, foreground and middle ground. Instead of taking portraits where the subject is standing against a wall or posing for the camera, try bringing them closer to your lens, or finding a background that has depth.

Bokeh makes your Subject pop by using it

Adding a bokeh effect can help when you are trying to add depth to your photos. Bokeh refers to the intentional blurring effect that you see in professional photographs. This effect is often used by photographers to preserve the focus on the subject while blurring the background. This effect will make your subject pop from the background.

It is possible to get close up shots of your subjects in front of the camera. You can even use a zoom lens! You can use it at your maximum focal length for a deeper bokeh effect and to reduce depth of field. When knowing how and when to use bokeh becomes like second nature, you’re on your way to understanding how to take professional photos.

Get Framed for Your Photo

Framing is another technique that can help you take professional photos. You need to find something you can use as a frame and place your subject within it. Examples include an archway, a doorway and some foliage. This type of framing can help direct the viewer’s attention to your focal point.

If the frame is close to the camera it may act as a background layer, adding depth and dimension to your images. Similar to creating a bokeh effect in the background, if you manually focus and zoom in on a subject the middle ground, you can keep the frame out of focus, which makes sure it doesn’t draw attention away from your focal point.

Please Fill the Frame

When photography students are being taught how to take professional photos, they are often told to “fill the frame.” It’s great advice because if you leave too much space around your main subject, distracting elements in the background can take away from your composition.

So, for example, when shooting a portrait, you might decide to just include the person from the waist up, or, even better, to fill the frame with their face. This makes the photo more appealing and professional looking.

Look for Patterns and Symmetry—Then Disrupt Them

Including patterns or symmetrical elements in your photos can make them more eye-catching. Humans have a tendency to spot patterns, and it’s one reason that including them in your shots can help you learn how to take professional photos.

Look out for opportunities to incorporate patterns and repeating shapes in your photos. You can also include an element that breaks the pattern as a focal point. AA picket fence without one picket would be an example.

2. Use good lighting

Making sure your shots are properly lit is an essential part of how to make your pictures look professional, and it’s something that inexperienced photographers often overlook. First, ensure that you have sufficient light to make your subject visible. If there’s not enough light, your camera may struggle to capture the details in the scene.

You can use automatic settings if you are shooting with your camera (which it is). It is not how to take professional photos, but more on that later!), it will use a high ISO setting or extra-long exposure, and you’ll probably end up with grainy or blurry results. And, if you try to brighten things up in Photoshop, you may find you have to make massive adjustments, which also results in a low-quality image.

On the other hand, if there’s too much hard light in your shots, it can ruin your photo with unwanted shadows. So spend some time carefully picking your location and the angle you shoot from to ensure there’s enough light in the scene. Lighting equipment is another way to solve this issue.

3. Get Some Lighting Equipment

Professional photography isn’t possible if you rely on the available lighting. You are severely restricting your creativity if you do this. ProfessionalPhotography requires a lot planning and a variety of equipment. But you don’t need to spend a lot of money to take the lighting in your photography to the next level.

Use a light reflector

One affordable piece of equipment that will help you manage your lighting is a light reflector. You could pick up a 5-in-1 light reflector for around $20, and it will give you a lot of options for manipulating light in your shots. The versatile light reflectors can be reversible with covers that are made of different reflective materials. These reflectors come with reversible covers. They can have black or white covers to help you get rid of light in a room, reflective silver covers which will reflect high levels of light and softened light.

The light reflectors provide a quick way for you to begin manipulating the light in your photos. This is a great help when trying to figure out how to create professional looking photographs.

TakeCamera Flashes & Diffusers: Avantage

It is important to understand the importance of lighting in making photographs professional. You may consider investing in studio lighting equipment like a strobe. But don’t overlook your camera flash!

If you shy away from using it because you find the light is too harsh, there are a number of solutions. The best option is to buy an external flash. External camera flashes, whether used attached to your camera’s hot-shoe or used off-camera, can give you much more flexibility. They allow you to direct the light towards your subject rather than having it flash directly at your face.

You can bounce light off of a wall or ceiling nearby. This results in a spread of light that is more even and less intense. External flashes can also be softened with flash diffusers.

But if you aren’t ready to invest in an external flash, there are less expensive options for diffusing the light from your camera’s built-in flash. One example is this diffuser for built-in camera flashes. The diffuser costs less than $20, and can be attached to the camera’s top. Frosted plastic is used to soften the light.

Many photographers also create DIY solutions for diffusing the light from their flashes, such as using various translucent white plastic containers and cutting them so they fit over the flash.

Make your surroundings interesting with light

But there’s a lot more to lighting than just making sure you have enough of it. Light can be used in many interesting ways, that will change the mood of your photographs. These effects can be used to enhance the professional look of your photos.

You could, for example, try these techniques:

  • Shooting during the golden hour. The golden hour is what photographers call the time just after sunrise and just before sunset. This is when you can capture scenes bathed in golden-hued light—which makes for a Great photo. A dramatic effect can also be created by the low sun.
  • Create a silhouette. Try shooting a subject in front of a bright light like the setting sun, and manually adjust your camera settings so all you’re left with is a dark silhouette against a background of light. Check out this guide to learn all the ins and outs of silhouettes, Silhouette Photography 101: Master The Basics.
  • Shoot in hard light. Shooting in areas or times when there’s lots of bright light and shadows can make for an interesting photo with lots of contrast. You might want to look out for shadows cast by fences, window blinds, or other objects. You can then capture the shapes and patterns that shadows create on your subject. For more info on this technique, take a look at hard light photography advice.

4. Learn HowYou can edit photos like a Professional

It’s not only about how to Take professional photos. You should also learn how to edit photos like a professional.

Photoshop is the professional photographer’s best friend. Practically any image can benefit from some touch-ups, whether it’s cropping, brightness adjustments, color corrections, or other tweaks.

So it’s worth spending some time learning what the program is capable of. There are lots of helpful tutorials available online, including a bunch on the Adobe website.

If you don’t have access to Photoshop and aren’t looking to spend the money on it, there are many free Photoshop alternatives. One of the most popular is GIMP.

But no matter what photo editing software you use, there’s one rule that remains constant: you should use a light touch when making adjustments. Inexperienced photographers tend to go overboard during editing. Start with a preset look and make small adjustments to develop a consistent body of work. If you make too many drastic adjustments, the final result won’t look realistic and your touch-ups will be obvious.

5. Learn Your Camera’s Settings

Relying on the camera’s automatic settings is another thing that will hold you back when it comes to understanding how to take good pictures. While it may work fine at times, you won’t have nearly as much flexibility to get creative with your photography or handle unique situations.

For instance, if you are trying to take a silhouette, your camera may try to capture the wrong details and you’ll end up dimly lit subject against a blown out background. If you’re trying to shoot at night, it may give you an extra-long exposure when you don’t want it, and you’ll end up with a blurry mess. So spend some time familiarizing yourself with your camera’s settings, because it’s a critical step in learning how to make pictures look professional.

For some help, here is our complete guide to manual settings on your DSLR camera.

6. Pick Up a Tripod

We’ve already covered some lighting equipment, but there’s one more piece of photography gear you should definitely consider adding to your arsenal if you want to know how to takeProfessional photos.

You might think you don’t need a tripod if you have a steady hand and are comfortable with handheld shots. But a tripod allows you to try a variety of shooting techniques that you can’t do without one. Just a few examples include tethered photography, long exposures, or creating your own 3D images.

AA tripod allows you to set up the shot, then manage other elements of the scene. You can also keep your camera at your ready. A tripod can be used to set up your shot. You could also speak with a model to adjust the lighting or simply wait for the right moment.

And you don’t have to spend much money to get a quality tripod. For some info on the variety that’s available, read up on these must-have portrait photography accessories.

7. Get the latest gear

You can improve your photography results by using the tips from professional photographers. However, if you’re working with sorely outdated equipment and have the budget for some new gear, it might be time to upgrade your camera, lenses, and accessories. These guides can help you make a decision between the many options available.

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