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Slow Down: It’s easy to press a button and see your image immediately on your screen. So photographers shoot and shoot before they think. Don’t be afraid to slow down. Look at what’s around you. Find a new or different angle. Be aware of what’s in the background. Move. When I photograph in a new location, I almost always walk around looking at different possibilities of places to use before I even pick up my camera. When I start shooting, I will hold the camera up to my eye and fine tune my composition, look for things out of place (stray hairs, wardrobe not behaving, a pole or tree behind someone’s head), and make sure everything looks good. Then I shoot.
Composition: The composition of a photograph is the placement of your subject within a set space. To improve your composition, follow the “rule of thirds” principle. Imagine placing a tic-tac-toe grid on your image, place the main subject or the horizon of a landscape on one of those lines. I like to place faces at one of the four corners where the vertical and horizontal lines meet. Another composition principle is framing. When photographing people, use the background to frame the person in the image. This gives emphasis to your subject. Place people between trees or lines of buildings.
Light: A couple simple lighting concepts can go a long way to improve your photographs. When photographing people, place them in shade (the north side of buildings is great). This is an easy fix for harsh light during the day. If you’re photographing inside, stand with your back to a window (your subject facing the window) to allow the window light to illuminate the person with a soft light. If you enjoy landscape photography, try shooting from an hour before to an hour after sunrise or sunset (so that two hour window).
Chris Bunker earned a BFA in Photography at BYU and is a professional wedding and commercial photographer based in Utah County. He loves sports, ice cream, and pupusas, and enjoy living life with his beautiful wife Chelsa and three children.