three_things_you_need_to__110992_205467The holidays are upon us, and with their arrival come lots and lots of photo ops. These days, almost everyone has a smartphone, and some people have more than one. Almost every smartphone comes equipped with a decent digital camera, which you’ll probably be using to take your holiday pictures this year. Whole books can, and have been written about the finer points of photography and taking killer pictures, but there are three key principles that stand out from the rest. If you nail these three keys, your photographs are going to dramatically improve. Here they are:

Lighting Is Your Friend

Whenever possible, use natural light. If you can’t use natural light, then make sure that the subject(s) you’re photographing are evenly lit, unless you’re intentionally doing something artistic with the contrasts of light and shadow. Good lighting is every bit as important as the quality of your camera. The two, working together, provide a powerful one-two punch that helps ensure top quality photos.

Experimentation is Key

Remember, you are the photographer, not the camera, so explore your subjects. Don’t take the same picture over and over again. Get creative. Get inventive. Go wild. Take a dozen, or even twenty photos of the same subject(s), and make sure each one is unique. Different angles, up close, far away, above, below, fiddle with the lighting, and so on. The possibilities are endless and limited only by your imagination. Of course, you’ll only be keeping/showing off the best of the best, but the more pictures you take, the more options you’ll have, and you’ll get firsthand knowledge and experience about what really “works.”

The Rule of Thirds

Imagine a grid of nine squares, three by three. Make sure the focal point of your picture is centered on the grid lines and NOT in the center of your shot. This makes your compositions more interesting and visually appealing. If you’re having trouble picturing those grid lines, you’re in luck, because there are photography apps, available for free, which will put the lines on your screen for you so you can use them as a guide.

Mastering photography can take a lifetime of practice. Mastering these three keys though, will help you improve the quality and dramatically improve your pictures.

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