How to Take Great Photos

These days it’s difficult to determine what is considered a great photograph. It’s easy to conclude that if you have the most expensive equipment you should then be able to create the best photograph. That’s not the case, even with today’s technology. Technology has made it easier to take quality pictures at an affordable price. You’ll find that anyone can take a photograph, but making it a great photograph takes skill. Having artistic ability and training are more important than having great equipment. You can overcome any limitations your equipment may have with artistic ability.

great photos

“fisherman” captured by zaid ishak

Creativity and knowing how to capture unique images are what will set your work apart from others. A great photograph is visually appealing to your client. It has the ability to hold your attention and generate deep thought. There are a few basic elements that make a great photograph. Focusing on these areas will allow you to stand above and beyond your competition. Remember your camera can’t compose your image for you.


The single most important aspect of a great photograph is getting proper composition. How you place your subject and surrounding objects sets the tone of your picture. If you don’t have the right composition then you won’t be able to create a great photograph. It’s the make or break element in creating a great photograph. You can take a picture that’s not the most exciting to look at and change the composition around to turn it into a picture that your reader can’t take their eyes off of. Take shots from different angles and heights. Creating different perspectives will allow you to get that great shot you desire. The shot has to be eye-catching and hold the viewer’s attention to be a great one. The attention to detail is what needs to stand out the most. If the shot has no detail or lacks the proper composition then your viewer will turn away and move on without taking notice.


Your use of lighting is also very important and plays a major role in creating a great photograph. If you have no light to take a shot then there won’t be a photograph. You then need to take available light and use it properly. Creating a silhouetted photo doesn’t take as much light as a newborn photo session. Your lighting in these two instances are totally different. However, the lighting in both can be used to create a unique and detailed photograph. If your light is low and you don’t have proper exposure your photo is going to turn out dark. You should consider light direction and the quality of the light as well as the color.

how to take photography

“Gondola ride” captured by Sheryl Yerro


Our eyes are drawn more toward warmer colors such as orange and red. Cool colors such as greens and blues will draw the eyes of the viewer away. You can create a photo that has a 3D effect by using a red object as your primary focus with a blue background. This is a great way to make your photo really stand apart. You have to remember that cool colors are soothing and peaceful. So, don’t try to create a shot that you want to portray lots of action with those colors. Vibrant colors and warm colors are what you want to use to get this effect. You want to make sure you get your colors right in post processing. You don’t want green grass to look blue just to get a calming effect in your shot. Keep your colors true, and don’t try to totally change the objects’ original color.


A great photograph can also be one that helps tell a story. If you’re taking a portrait shot with people as your focus you can allow your viewers a chance to be part of their story by proper placement within the shot. You can guide your subject to help illustrate an emotion by changing the eyebrows or smiling. A loving couple holding hands and staring into each others eyes is going to tell a story of love and show emotion. A couple waving their hands and giving the appearance of disagreement and discontent is going to look as though they are having an argument. These are the ways you can use your photo to tell a detailed story and make it a great photograph.

photojournalism great photography

“don’t shoot” captured by Jamelle Bouie


Trying to recreate what another photographer has already created rarely works. A great photographer should create their own masterpiece without using other photographers’ ideas. A photographer who looks at one’s work and tries to duplicate it down to color and backdrop is cheating their client. Going out and creating a photo based a gut feeling and not having a set idea in mind beforehand will help set your apart from your competition. Make sure you’re open-minded while trying to figure out what backdrops and unique objects you want to incorporate into your shot. Looking for a specific place on a beach or searching for the exact location another photographer used shows a lack of creativity, and over time your portfolio will reflect that. Your clients will ask why all of your shots look the same and why you only use this field or that lighthouse as a backdrop.

emotion makes a great photograph

photo captured by dz roman


Emotion is the last area that you should focus on while trying to create a great photograph. Capturing emotion is the one key element that any great photograph should have. Everyone’s facial expression is unique and emotion can be seen in everyone’s face. A person with a blank facial expression is showing emotion even if they don’t realize it. If you force or fake these emotions rather than capturing them as a genuine, the photo will look staged. Capturing raw and genuine emotion is rare. If you’re a skilled photographer you’ll be able to catch these rare glimpses into one’s heart. Don’t hesitate when you have the opportunity to capture these raw emotions. This is what will turn an average photograph into a great one.

About the Author:
Chi Photography is one of the top Charleston children’s photographers located in Charleston, South Carolina.

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4 responses to “How to Take Great Photos”

  1. Thanks for sharing your idea here. I appreciate your idea, very excellent. It is beneficial to me to save a money via forum.

  2. Bill says:

    The single most important aspect of a great photograph is getting proper composition.
    So, making sure you have proper lighting is most important.
    Capturing emotion is the one key element that any great photograph should have.

    So, which one is key? And how do you capture emotion in a landscape photo?

  3. Tony says:

    An interesting article and I totally agree that composition is all important. Without an “eye” for a good photo, not even the most expensive camera will make you a good photographer!

  4. Michael says:

    Bill, while “capturing” an emotion is nice, what we are really trying to do is GENERATE an emotional response of the viewer. Yes, each of us may react similarly or in one of a hundred different ways when we see someone else’s emotion, but that’s just the start.

    There are a ton of factors that may generate an emotional response – even when we are viewing an inanimate subject like landscape. What is the “subject” of the scene? Are there multiple subjects? Are they complimentary, supportive, contentious, offer irony, etc? What about the colors? And the lighting? And even more importantly, the shadows? The lines? The shapes? The texture? The symmetry? What about the time of day? And the relationship between shutter speed and moving subjects in the scene? The placement, relationships, and scale of subject/s in the shot? What about the shot angle and perspective? Waiting for an interesting element or subject to show up in the scene? Use of white space? Depth of field, focus, post production editing? Or cultural and other stereotypes of the scene? The factors associated with the media? (environment, lighting, frame, reflective/absorptive/texture properties of media, size of media…)

    Bottom line, art has an aesthetic, psychological emotional element – ditto for photography.

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