(photo credit: Tom Langford)
Tom Langford is a commercial photographer, professional retoucher, and a
website designer. He teaches photography courses for beginners and
Everybody knows how to take a good snap - you
simply point and shoot, and the camera does the rest. But how do you
take a good picture that really captures the moment and is interesting
to more than just family and friends?
The good news is that you
don’t have to be an artist or come from a creative background to be able
to take impressive pictures. It’s hardly rocket science, and there
really is no mystery to it. Anyone can develop an “eye” for photography.
don't need to own an expensive camera either. Students on my
photography courses often ask whether it is a must to have an expensive
camera. I have to tell them that the camera is the least important
component in taking a good picture. To make the point, I show them lots
of good pictures that I have taken with the camera on my cell phone.
a photographer requires practice and patience, and the first step is to
understand the five elements that photographers all over the world use
when taking “Good Pictures." The five basic steps to taking good pictures
teach that there are five basic elements that all good pictures have in
common. To help you remember them I have arranged the first letter of
each to spell the word BASIC: B
ackgrounds – Good pictures have appropriate backgroundsA
wareness – How shapes, textures, perspectives, etc, create effective compositionsS
tory – Good Pictures tell a story - they communicateI
magination – Photographers imagine how the picture will look before taking itC
ritique – Being able to instantly spot what works or doesn’t work in a picture
start with we will concentrate on the first step: Backgrounds. It
sounds very basic, but its importance cannot be over-emphasized. The
next four articles will guide you through the other steps. Taking care of the background
distracting background will absolutely ruin what could have been a
great picture. Professional photographers will always keep a very sharp
eye on the background in every picture they take. Even before they pick
up the camera they will have been looking around and noting background
possibilities that enhance, rather than detract, from the shots they
have in mind.
Snappers keep their eye on the subject and don’t
notice what’s behind them. That’s why you will see a picture of a
child’s cute expression surrounded by a messy, distracting background. A
good picture needs to have a good background, otherwise it’s a snap.
My students always complain that things happen too fast to take account of everything.
How can they possibly control the background when it’s difficult enough just to capture an expression?
have to agree with them – in fast changing situations you don’t have
the time to fuss about. That’s why you have to be aware of the
background before you take the shot. As you take out your camera you
must already be assessing the background - taking a step to the left or
right, forward or backward, and already judging whether to hold the
camera higher or lower. It is amazing how a small movement can alter the
background significantly.Something to practice
enough explanation. Now it’s time to put your understanding into
practice. Next time you are taking some family snaps try to take at
least one with a clean and appropriate background that does not detract
from the shot. You won’t find it as easy as it sounds.
you get the chance to see a professional photographer working in a
changing environment, watch how they move their position before they
take a shot. The background is King and they are giving it all the
respect it deserves. How do you avoid taking snaps A few steps to the right
with messy backgrounds like this? cleans up the background.
Here the busy background shows An excellent picture with a background
his environment and adds to the picture. that gives the picture depth.
Photo: Eddie Friedman
Send me your picture
you are aspiring to take good pictures, and would like some
constructive feedback, send me a shot you would like me to look at and I
will publish one at the end of my next article. Please send a reduced sized version of your photo to [email protected]
.Tom's next course begins in Netanya on July 5. Details of this course and all other courses can be found at http://www.langford.co.il/courses.