Concise photography advice for friends and family


Do you have any advice on how to take good photos?

Because I don't make a secret of my interest in photography, it's not uncommon for people around me to assume that I'm the right person to answer this seemingly innocuous question. It doesn't really help when I try to explain embarrassingly that I'm just an amateur and most likely the last person to dispense photography-related morsels of wisdom. So I thought I could just as well distill my meager photography experience into a few simple points I can share with people seeking my advice1.

For most people photography exists in the context of recording important events and travel experiences. So I have these two scenarios in mind when I talk about taking good photos.

I'll be the first to admit that what I offer is often gross simplification, but my advice is based on the assumption that people want actionable info and not a philosophical discussion on the finer points of photography.

So let's start with the most important question.

What is a good photo?

What to photograph?

How to photograph?

Composition

The main purpose of the composition is to prevent the viewer's eye from aimlessly wandering around the frame. A strong composition leads the eye, and then keeps it firmly focused on the main subject. To oversimplify, the composition answers two questions: What do I want the viewer to look at? and How can I make my photo pleasing for the viewer?

Follow simple rules to improve your composition.

Light

What else?

What software should I use?

I'm biased, but give digiKam a try. It's available free of charge, and it runs on macOS, Windows, and Linux. More importantly, it has all the essential tools for importing, organizing, processing, and managing photos, RAW files, and videos.

Further reading

Understanding Photography Field Guide by Brian Peterson

Footnote

1 Being lazy, I thought I could get away with simply googling the topic and compiling a list instead of writing the whole thing from scratch. However, while there is an abundance of articles catering for beginners, they often dispense advice that is hardly of practical use for mere mortals. I mean shoot RAW, understand the exposure triangle, learn to read the histogram, and don't overexpose highlights is not exactly what your aunt expects to hear when she asks you for advice.


Back © 2020, Dmitri Popov