How To Take Pictures That Look Like Postcards

postcard-photosSo you want to take postcard-perfect photos.

Maybe you’re heading out of town to a new locale and you want to grab some impressive shots from your trip. Or maybe you just want to make the most of the photo-worthy spots your own area has to offer. Either way, this collection of five helpful tips will get you started on the right track. Put this advice to use, and your photo albums can have all the flavor and pizzazz of a postcard stand.

Consider Your Goals

The first step is to know what you’re aiming for. What is your ideal? What is the aesthetic standard you want to match? Collect postcards that personally appeal to you, and create a library of your favorite landscape and landmark photography. Look through this library occasionally to get inspiration.

Consider Composition

Don’t just stick with the boring convention of placing your subject squarely in the center of the shot. This run-of-the-mill practice is rarely the most interesting way to compose a shot. Play with unique and intriguing composition, and keep in mind the Rule of Thirds. What is the Rule of Thirds? Basically, you divide your shot into nine equal parts, with two horizontal lines, and two vertical lines, all of equal spacing. Align components of your picture along these lines. For example, place the horizon along one of the horizontal lines, and a tree or building along one of the vertical lines. This technique can help you create photos that are more aesthetically pleasing and interesting.

postcard-photos2Consider Lighting and Time of Day

Light is one of the most critical components of a good photo. So, it’s important to pay attention to the lighting in the shot. Lighting is probably most highly influenced by what time of day it is.

Early morning and late afternoon usually have the best lighting conditions for creating photos. However, any time of day or type of lighting can prove interesting, depending on what your subject is. On an east coast beach, a sunrise shot is beautiful; on a west coast beach, a sunset shot is equally stunning. (These are two examples of “backlighting” a photo – a great technique for creating photos with strong lighting schemes.) In a forest, a misty midmorning shot might do the trick. A lake might look the brightest and bluest when shot mid-afternoon. It’s all about seeing your subject with a creative eye, and fitting the lighting to the mood.

Night shots can also be good if you have the right equipment. It’s hard to photograph fireworks or city lights at any other time! To take good pictures at night, invest in a small tripod and shoot photos with long exposures. If you don’t have a tripod, try balancing your camera on a ledge, bench, or another sturdy surface.

postcard-photos3Consider Color Schemes

Many postcard-perfect pictures are so appealing because of their strong colors. If you want to take great photos, you should learn a little about color theory and the color wheel. Interesting color schemes are often composed of either monochromatic or complementary colors. Monochromatic colors are all based on a single color, present in several shades and tints – for example, a blue ocean beneath a blue sky. Complementary colors, on the other hand, are contrasting colors that usually fall opposite one another on the color wheel – for example, a bright red flower in a field of green. Red and green, yellow and purple, and blue and orange are the basic complementary color pairs, but you can represent this powerful creative tension using other contrasting colors, too.

Consider Focus

The best photos are often strikingly simple. Focus on one strong detail, or stand back and capture the stunning simplicity of an uncluttered horizon. Either way, your image will be the most powerful if you can simplify the theme of the picture, by quickly and clearly drawing the viewer’s eye to just one compelling detail or gripping feature.

Cam Marcus is an enthusiastic traveler and avid photographer, who has discovered a way to make his photography equipment pay for itself. Curious? Check out his photo galleries and learn more about his creative business plan at

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One response to “How To Take Pictures That Look Like Postcards”

  1. Angela Power says:

    I am hoping to find an answer to my question…… I did not set out to take photos which looked like a postcard, however I recently submitted a photo in a competition and the only comment the judge made was that it was “Postcardy” ….. what does that mean……. it sounds like a negative comment to me but cannot find an answer online… can you help ???/

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