How To Take Better Photographs
by Marcella Hackbardt, associate professor of studio art
1. Use the four edges of the "frame," by having pictorial elements that intersect with the edge. For instance, as you move in toward the subject to fill the frame, a bit of the top of someone's head might be cropped to use the top edge. If you then move back to capture a sense of the story or place, something in the background could extend edge to edge in a strong diagonal line, activating the composition.
2. With some photos, centering the subject-like the birthday girl blowing out the candles at her party-makes sense. But try alternatives for other pictures, putting the subject to the left or the right of the frame. Fill the other half with beauty, wonder, and mystery, or with documentary evidence. Either way, think of the poetry and storytelling possibilities.
3. Try using window light instead of flash if you are shooting indoors. Drag a chair over to a window so that the light comes in from the right or left onto your subject (not from behind the subject). Do not include the window itself in the photograph, just incorporate the flattering light and quiet sensibility.
4. Many of the new cell phones have great photographic capabilities. There are also many fun apps that are free or almost free. Some apps can make your cell phone photos look like slightly aged Polaroids, others can auto-stitch images--you take 4 or 5 vertical shots and the app will stitch them together into a panoramic. Experiment, and remember to enjoy the process of discovery!