1. Don’t be shutter-shy. Snap a lot. There’s no such thing as too many pictures in this digital age. Take multiple shots of the same scene. Sometimes a different angle or a fresh expression will make the difference between a decent picture and an amazing one. One more reason to keep snapping: people tend to relax after the first few pictures and act more naturally.
2. Speaking of acting naturally, engage your subject in conversation. “Say cheese” usually solicits a cheesy smile (hmmm….maybe that’s where the expression comes from!) but a good story or a joke will bring out the real thing. Take fewer posed shots and more candid/action shots. Try to capture life as it happens instead of making everyone stop for a picture.
3. Take your camera with you whenever you go out. If you don’t, you will frequently regret it. And don’t forget to pack an extra fully-charged battery. How many times have you been in the middle of taking great pictures when your battery has gone dead?
4. Move in closer to your subject. Rather than standing far away and zooming in, stand closer and zoom out. Fill up your frame with what’s important.
5. Open up those curtains, move towards the window, and let the natural light flood in. If you need to use the flash, have your subject move away from the wall or the background to reduce those annoying shadows.
6. Speaking of backgrounds, keep them plain! Eliminate the distractions by moving around (either you, the photographer, or your subject) until the background is less busy.
7. Change-up the composition. Move your subject off-center. See if the shot looks better in a different orientation (landscape vs portrait).
8. Get down on your subject’s level, or try a shot from above your subject, looking down. Get down on the floor (or up on a chair if you’re the short one). Try different angles.
9. Do a little studying. Read your camera’s manual and get to know how your camera works and why common problems happen.
10. Get out and try new things. Experiment. Stretch. Sometimes it’s the unconventional shots, or the ones you are sure aren’t going to turn out at all, that end up being your favorites. Get ideas from other people. If you see something you like, try to recreate the style.