Quick Tips for Better Photos: #8 Keep it Simple

Hey friends, I think it’s safe to say that most of us like to take photos, right?  But I also realize that most people don’t actually want to learn photography, what they want is a few easy tips to take better photos.  So I’m writing this monthly series to help you with that, whether you have an SLR, a point and shoot camera, or even a smartphone.

You know when you stumble onto a gorgeous scene, say a mountain landscape or or a stand of trees that are displaying the best fall color?  It’s beautiful to look at, but sometimes the whole picture might not translate into a good photograph.

Next time you find yourself in this situation, try keeping it simple:

Keep it Simple - Fall Color

Find something similar (but simpler) nearby.  What was I going for on the left?  Not sure?  Me either.  I’m guessing I was captivated by the beautiful color at this overlook.  The trees on the right were in the parking lot.  The parking lot! And then the wind picked up just a little and blew some yellow leaves off of the trees – what timing!

Keep it Simple - Icy Trees

Here’s another example of finding something nearby.  This whole beach was loaded with ice covered trees, I just had to find one with a nice background (and a few less branches).

Keep it Simple - Forest Park

Try getting closer to your subject.  While I think the image on the left could’ve worked if I tried a bit harder, there was a lot going on in the foreground and the sky was blown out, and the tree is cut off… I much prefer the detail of the frosty leaves and the colors and the overall simplicity in the image on the right.

Keep it Simple - Bahia Conception

Think about capturing the essence of a place.  On the left, is a snapshot of our mess of camping/beach gear.  On the right, in the same location, is my friend holding out a handful of clams that he just caught in our little bay.  What I like about the image on the right is the tidiness of the shot, but also it brings to mind really good memories of camping on that beach: Everyone digging up clams like crazy and then later, cooking them up for dinner on our campfire.

Keep it Simple - Lighthouse

Change your perspective to remove distractions from the frame.  Now I don’t think the image on the left is bad, some might think the lines are leading the viewer in, and I kind of agree.  But I prefer the image on the right.  It’s calm, quiet, and artsy.

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