Great photography is a mixture of luck and skill. It is important to know how to work your camera, and to recognize some basic photography terms. It is also important to have your camera nearby at all times, as you never know when the perfect moment for a picture will present itself. If your regular camera is too large to carry around, such as a single lens reflex (SLR) camera, consider getting a smaller digital camera to carry around with you to prevent missed opportunities. Knowing photography techniques can also improve the outcome of your pictures.
Great photographs are achieved by getting close to your subject. Not only are these shots easier to focus, but it gets rid of all the distracting background elements. This photography technique is one of the simplest ways to make a huge improvement in your picture taking skills. The exception to this is for shots where the background is part of the scene. Remember the rule of thirds; before taking a picture, mentally divide the scene into three rows and three columns. The main focus of the shot should be centered or artistically placed. There should be elements placed to move the viewer's sight from one section of the picture to the other.
Learn about camera speeds and exposure times. Know how to use the manual settings on your camera. Knowing when to use a higher or lower aperture, for example, can make a huge difference in how your pictures turn out. Play around with these settings to get creative shots from what could be run-of-the-mill subjects. Most cameras allow for photography techniques such as slower shutter speeds and smaller amounts of light coming in. These small changes can make a big difference.
Take pictures in the mornings or evenings, or on overcast days, to get the best lighting for outdoor shots. Use light coming in from a window for indoor shots. Set up extra lighting when necessary. If the lighting is too strong, the picture will be either too dark or washed out. The harsh light during the middle of the day is too bright for most types of photography.
Live action pictures show movement and the activities of daily life. Get pictures of your subjects while they go about their regular tasks. They will be more relaxed and natural, and you will end up with better pictures. Try to take your shots from the subject's level. For children, this will usually mean getting down low to get the best perspective.
Use a tripod. Movement can blur images, especially when you are using a longer exposure time. A tripod allows you to keep the camera still during the shot, preventing blurring. For do-it-yourself family portraits, this also allows you to get into the picture. A tripod will also allow you to focus on composing the picture, and setting the camera accordingly, without worrying about holding the camera with one hand while doing everything else with the other. This is especially useful when you are using a remote flash.
Take the obvious pictures, but also take the less obvious ones. For example, everyone expects a picture of a new baby cuddled in its mother's arms. A less obvious picture is of the child's tiny feet compared to its parents' hands, or of the infant's fingers curled around her daddy's fingers. The less obvious pictures are more artistic, and also provide perspectives that other pictures may not capture.
Knowing basic photography techniques and tips can make a difference in how well your photographs turn out. It is important to experiment with new methods until you feel comfortable enough to use them in regular situations. Digital cameras are great for this, because you get instant feedback on how the picture turned out and can make adjustments accordingly for the next shot. It is important to keep building on your knowledge of photography techniques. There are always new tips and tricks to learn that can improve your picture taking skills.