How to Improve Your Photos

Rule of odds

In simple terms, the “rule of odds” is to have an odd number of objects in your photos. It could be a photo of just one object or a group shot of three people. This technique makes the photo more appealing and interesting to the human eye.

4 strawberries

This photo of four strawberries is quite bland and boring. It is difficult to find the center of focus in this image.

3 strawberries

A similar image but with just three strawberries. Although just the image is similar to the previous photo, the odd number of strawberries make it significantly more interesting.


Limiting focus

Limiting the focus is an easy way to add focus. It may not be necessary in all photos but is useful whenever you have distracting objects that you want to hide. The most common use of this technique is to blur distracting backgrounds. Blurring the background turns any distracting backgrounds into a pleasing one. You can minimize the depth of field in your photos by using a large aperture (ex. F1.8), zooming in, and using a camera with a larger sensor (ex. full frame DSLR).

Couple with a blurred background

If the trees in the background were in focus, it would have distracted the subjects of this photo. By blurring out the background, the focus is emphasized on the couple.

Portrait with blurred background

Blurring out the background helps draw the attention to this persons eyes.


Simplification

The best way to improve the center of focus is to create simple looking image. The easiest way to do this is to limit the amount of objects in your photo. You can also use the previous tip to blur out distracting details.

A story told with a simple image

The simplicity of this photo makes the story clear. A simple photo gets attention and makes people look at it longer.


Centering

Centering an object gives the photo balance. Centering works best on simple photos with few objects.

A driller in the center of the photograph

You can improve the emphasis on the subject by keeping the spacing around the subject clean.

Ethernet cable in the center

A boring object made interesting by keeping it simple and centered.


Rule of thirds

This is one of the most effective and popular ways of composing a photo. You can improve your photos compositions simply by using this technique. The “rule of thirds” adds interest to the photo by aligning the subject on one of the four points of an imaginary 3×3 grid in the photo.

Boat on the rule of thirds

A simple image made more interesting by positioning on the rule of thirds.

Eye on the rule of thirds

When shooting portraits, you can use the rule of thirds to add focus to the eyes. Simply position one of the eyes or the area between the eyes on the rule of thirds to create a great portrait.


Lead room

Lead room is the the space in front of an object. This element is usually used with the rule of thirds to create a more interesting photo. By leaving room in front of the subject, the viewer will see that it has someplace to go.

Snowboarder on the rule of thirds with lead room

The snowboarder is positioned on the rule of thirds with some lead room in front of him.

Runner with lead room

Leaving some lead room in front of the runner makes the photo look more active. It also puts more attention to the sunset.

Runner without lead room

Leaving room behind the runner makes her appear to be almost done running.


S curve

S Curve is an imaginary line in a photo that is in the shape of an S. This type of line makes photos look more interesting by adding motion guiding the viewers eye in the shape of an S. S curve can also be used in posing to improve the appearance of the models figure.

Highway with s curve

An example of a highway with an S curve. This photo of a simple scenery is made more interesting with the S curve.

Highway without s curve

A similar photo of a highway but without the S curve is less dynamic.

Scuplture pose with S curve

S curve can also be used in posing. The earliest examples of S curve can be found in Greek and Roman sculptures.


Foreground

Most photos have a middleground and a background but very little foreground. You can improve your landscapes photos significantly by including some foreground objects. This is a great technique for creating a sense of scale and making the viewer feel like he/she is in the photo.

Landscape with rocks in the foreground

The rocks in this landscape photo gives the photo a sense of depth and scale.

Landscape with more foreground

Adding more foreground to the photo creates the feeling being there.


Fill the frame

When you think you’re close enough to the subject, try going closer. Fill most of the frame with the subject and you got another composition.

Two variations of the same subject created just by filling the frame

Getting closer and filling the frame with the wolfs head gives more emphasis to the wolf and creates more drama. Both photos are of the same wolf but the story it tells is completely different.


Framing

Here’s a creative way to add a foreground to your photos! Use elements around you to create a picture frame of the subject. This technique is a great way of adding interest and making a photo stand out from the rest.

Taj Mahal framed

This photo uses a silhouette to create a frame around the Taj Mahal.

Using trees to frame the winter landscape

Frames don’t have to stand out or be perfectly shaped. They can be natural like the two trees in this image.