From snapshots to great shots: slow down

From snapshots to great shots…

There’s nothing wrong with snapshots – if you think about it they are photographs taken in an instant, grabbed quickly, not planned, spontaneous. And many great shots have been taken in exactly that way.

But any shot is weakened by being out of focus, poorly exposed and badly composed. To avoid this you need to be familiar with your camera settings, have an appreciation of light and how the camera deals with it and a grasp of what makes a strong composition. You can then put this into action in a split second, almost instinctively.

This all requires practise, practise, practise. And as you are doing this weekly photo challenge you are well on the way to improving your photography and taking good snapshots and more considered photographs.


For more considered photographs you should slow down and think before you press the shutter:

  • What are you trying to convey, what story are you trying to tell?
  • What should the main focus of your image be? How do you make this obvious to the viewer?
  • What camera settings do you need to achieve this? Shutter speed, aperture and ISO? Flash or no flash? Which lens will do the best job?
  • How should you frame the image? Portrait or landscape? Cropped in tight or wide?
  • What is the best angle for the shot – eye level, high up, low down?
  • Take several shots from different viewpoints, angles, distances. Then pick the best.
  • How will you edit the shot? Colour or black and white, saturated and contrasty, faded and lo contrast? Would it benefit from a slight crop or straighten?

Here’s a shot I did some time ago that I think sums up a recent theme of HOME for me – baking in the kitchen – a favourite pastime for my daughter and husband. I’ve annotated it with my thought process / technique to demonstrate what I mean about slowing down, thinking and having an intention to tell a story. Hope it’s helpful.

Shot with a Canon 5D MK II, 50mm f/1.8 lens (purposefully chosen to get the soft focus background and allow me to let in lots of natural light). I switched the kitchen lights off to avoid a yellow cast.

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