How to take better photos

With even the most basic of cameras now coming with an array of different camera settings, photographers can easily change and alter the effects of their images. This can be a daunting prospect for those new to photography. Learn how to take better photos with these top tips and master the basics of photography. If you are looking to buy a new camera, check out the cashback deals in our computer and electronics sections.

Basic photography tips

  • Read the camera manual – It may seem obvious but so many people forget to read it. Learn how your camera works and how to operate the different settings on your camera. Some modern cameras even have built-in tutorials on the camera itself.
  • Experiment with camera settings – Now you have read the manual and know how to adjust the settings, experiment and play around with them to get your desired effect. If you have a digital camera, there is no cost in getting it wrong so take lots of different shots using the different settings.
  • Use a tripod – If you want to steady your photos for a crisper shot, use a tripod. Especially useful if you have shaky hand.
  • Take your camera everywhere – Carry your camera around with you because you never know when you might find that perfect photo opportunity. The more photos you take and practice you get, the better your photo taking skills will become.


The lighting has one of the biggest impacts on your photos. You can drastically alter the effect of the image depending on how much light you have and whether it is natural or artificial light.

  • Use natural light – Try and use natural light when you can. Use it to your advantage and simply adjust the white balance where necessary. If you want your photos to have a dramatic feel, shooting in low light areas will help to create this.
  • Use the flash – You may not think you need to use the flash in the day time but bright sunlight can cause dark shadows. Use the flash for increased light exposure on your subject.
  • Where is the light coming from? – Work out what direction the light is coming from and then shoot your subject from different angles for varied effects. Don’t stand with your back to the sun as this will cause your subject to be heavily shadowed.
  • Adjust the white balance – Adjusting the white balance is an important feature as it ensures the colours are accurate. The colours of images can change depending on the type of lighting used. Fluorescent lighting adds a blue colour whereas tungsten lights add a yellow tinge to photos.

Framing and composition

framing example

Getting the composition of a photo right is a vital element in taking a good photo. Framing your shot and shooting from different angles can dramatically affect the look of your photos. Getting the composition right is the difference in taking a good photo and taking a great photo. There are a few guides to follow on composition but you don’t always have to stick to the rules, it all depends on what sort of effect you are going for.

  • Rule of thirds – The rule of thirds is a helpful guide on how to frame your photo and where your point of interest should sit in the frame. The rule is to cut your frame into thirds both vertically and horizontally then the subject of interest in the photo should sit on one of the cross sections. Of course you don’t always have to stick to this if you want a more obscure looking photograph.
  • Be aware of what is in the background – If there are objects in the background that are distracting the attention away from the main subject, don’t be afraid to move them or ask people to move if necessary. You may want to change the angle or get in closer so that the main subject is the main focus of the photo. You may feel that the background adds to the photograph, in which case leave it there.
  • Change perspective – Look for unusual angles to shoot from. You don’t always have to shoot straight in front. Why not try taking the photo from the ground below your subject or from a different height.
  • Take vertical pictures – Don’t always shoot in horizontal mode, vertical may work better for certain shots so don’t be afraid to try it.
  • Move your subject around – This may go against the rule of thirds, but your main subject doesn’t always have to be in the middle of the frame. Try out different shots and angles to get better photos.


high speed photo example

Getting the exposure right is a key consideration when taking a photo. Learning the basics of shutter speed, aperture and ISO and working them together is a basic photography skill that will allow you to create a range of imagers with different effects such as depth of field.

  • ISO – The ISO is the camera’s sensitivity to light. The more light you have when taking a photo, the lower the ISO will need to be. If you are shooting in low light conditions you may need to use a higher ISO however with higher sensitivity the images can look grainy.
  • Shutter Speed – This refers to the length of time a camera shutter is open and therefore exposed to light. Slow shutter speeds are ideal if you are shooting in low light as it allows more light to enter the camera. The use of the shutter speed function also allows you to capture motion. If you have a fast shutter speed you will be able to capture fast moving motion with a crisp clear view like the example below.

Using a slow shutter speed will add a blur to your photographs when you are shooting movement. This can be good to create special effects such as the below.

slow speed photo example

  • Aperture – This function controls the size of the hole in the lens. The larger the hole, the more light that passes through the hole to the camera sensor. You can also use the aperture as a way of controlling the depth of field. Depth of field is when you decide how much of the shot will be sharp and how much will be out of focus. If the aperture is very small, the depth of field is large, while if the aperture is large, the depth of field is small. A shallow depth of field allows you to create images where the subject is in focus whilst the background or even the foreground is blurred.

low aperture example

If you want to start experimenting with these different camera settings, you are going to need a camera that has these functions. Buy your camera with GetPaidTo and you will receive cashback on your purchases when you shop with any of the following:

Helpful tutorials

To help you take better photos and learn how to use your camera settings, why not try following a blog with some helpful tutorials? We have found some useful photography blogs to help you.

Visit Hot Courses to search for a photography course in your area.

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