This is our third post on Cell Phone Camera Tips. The first post introduced camera settings and discussed the #1 villain responsible for blurry photos – camera shake. In the second post we warned you about digital zoom and explained how to get the best portraits from your camera phone.
It would be a good idea to read those earlier posts, if you haven’t already. In this post we will assume you’ve got your camera settings covered. We are now ready to consider composition. We’ll describe techniques that lead to pleasing photographs – regardless of camera cost – for the remaining posts in this series.
There are many attributes and compositional elements to consider. It’s not our intention to cover them all. We will focus on the most significant in this series on Cell Phone Camera Tips. Others, such as rule of thirds (as shown in photo below), foreground objects, framing and diagonal lines are covered elsewhere. For today’s post we’ll consider the #1 technique to improve your photographs.
5) Clutter Reduction
No, we’re not talking about cleaning out your garage but …. if that’s what came to mind you may need to consider that. The clutter we’re talking about is found in most snapshot photographs. There is no quicker way to improve your photography than reducing the clutter in your frame.
When you’re looking to frame the scene ask yourself this question before you press the shutter: “What in this scene is important?” Once that’s determined then look around the frame and eliminate all the other clutter. We want to focus attention on the scene element you decided was the most important. Fill the frame with that scene element. That’s the quickest way to reduce clutter and usually requires nothing more than moving closer – zooming with your feet. Resist the urge to be lazy – heed the digital zoom warning we wrote about last week.
More often than not this can be achieved by finding a simple background to photograph against. This is usually easy to do for portraits. Look around; move your subject to ensure there are no tree branches growing out of their heads.
Another great technique for portraits is to give the subject breathing room. Look for “negative space” – a fancy phrase used by pros to denote open areas as discussed in this post. Both of these engagement photos below include negative space – but one violates the rule of thirds. Read that earlier post and learn why we decided to purposefully brake that “rule”.
The techniques illustrated in these photos don’t require any special equipment. They do require a bit of planning and a willingness to put yourself in a position to minimize background distractions. So please get in the habit of checking for distractions in your frame. Then make adjustments in your position to eliminate them. The quality of your photos will improve for all to see.
Next week we’ll talk about photographing from multiple angles to not only reduce clutter but to also find new and interesting perspectives that will set your photos apart.
Feel free to comment or show off some of your own compositions that illustrate this tip. In the meantime, stay tuned because more Tuesday Photo Tips are right around the corner. Better yet – be updated automatically by “friending” our Facebook site.
PS - This is one of dozens of photo tips in our continuing Tuesday Photo Tips series of posts. There are other resource articles on our site you may enjoy covering basic and more advanced photography topics. There are also tips covering topics such as preparing for family or infant/child portrait sessions. If you would like a topic covered just jot it down in a comment or send us a note.