From Snapshots to Photography

Watch the video below for a front-row seat in Jim Dicecco’s class for beginning to intermediate photographers on how to turn your snapshots into stunning photography. A professional photographer and product educator for Canon, Dicecco explains how by keeping just a few pointers in mind, you can tap into the creative right side of your brain and take your photography to the next level. Trying to keep his presentation as non-technical as possible, he focuses on two main topics: matching the right lens to the right situation, and choosing the most effective composition as you’re out shooting. The video is long, over an hour and a half, but is also fast-paced and packed with useful information:

Here are a few highlights:

Choosing a Lens

50 mm – creates a natural or realistic look, because it imitates how our eyes actually see

Wide-Angle (35 mm and lower) – captures more information than the eye can take in at once

  • typically for large landscapes/scenic shots or cramped interiors
  • can also be used for an interesting point of view that creates dramatic, graphic images because of the perspective distortion
  • can emphasize the foreground while the background stays in detailed focus for a sense of place
fall trees

taken with a wide-angle lens

Telephoto (85 mm and higher) and Super-Telephoto (upwards of 300 mm)

  • short telephoto lenses are ideal for portraits because they offer mild compression for a more flattering shot
  • good to use with “camera-shy” subjects, whether people or animals, or simply to span physical distance
  • can visually isolate subjects for a crisp focus and a nicely blurred background
mountain lion

shot with a telephoto lens to compensate for the distance

“Typically, the rule of thumb is that you pick your telephoto lens based on where you are on the food chain: the lower you are, the longer you want it!”


shot with a telephoto lens to isolate the subject against a soft, blurred background

Specialty Lenses

  • Macro – for extremely close range, capturing minute detail; can also be used for portraits
  • Fisheye – super wide-angle for deliberate distortion
red flower

shot with a macro lens to capture the fine detail


  • look for what will catch the eye in a composition, including the brightest or sharpest object, geometric shapes, motion, and, of course, people
  • follow the “Rule of Thirds” (don’t place your subject in the center of the composition)
  • you can use cropping can improve the composition
  • look for balance and symmetry
  • composing your shot diagonally is another option

Check out some examples below:

old barn in field

using shapes as part of the composition


capturing an in-motion moment that would normally be too fast for the naked eye to see

little girl at beach

demonstrating the rule of thirds

old barn and wagon

a balanced composition


a diagonal composition

For more great tips, check out the whole video!

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One response to “From Snapshots to Photography”

  1. kellygreen says:

    Great photography learning info

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