This article appears in the Hobbyist a newspaper that will be next to Locals Guide & Sneak Preview soon.

Helpful Hints for Photographers

Do you want your photo to stand out, whether it’s for social media, a professional exhibit, or posterity? Here are just a few tips that will make your photos pop, whether you use a phone, a “point and shoot” or a serious camera.

First, when shooting a group, hold your camera horizontally (not vertically). This especially holds true for shooting videos on your phone. For portraits, try a vertical orientation. If you have a newer phone with a “Portrait” feature, use it to blur the background. Those with more professional cameras will want to use a shallow depth of field (for “bokeh”). Then hold your camera steady so you won’t produce overall blurry photos. Ask your subjects to lean their torsos into the image (like a model might) and stand at an angle rather than straight on. If there is a nice background (think Crater Lake), put your subject off to the side so they’re not smack-dab center.

Helpful Hints for PhotographersTry not to cut off feet or other appendages. Avoid distracting backgrounds like telephone poles or trees coming out from behind your subject’s head. (Shoot from below the subject or above if necessary.) Make sure your subject is looking at YOU and not at the person to your left who is also trying to capture an image. Take a few extra shots in case eyes are closed.

If it’s overly sunny, have the subject close his or her eyes and open at the count of three so they’re not squinting. Have them remove sunglasses. If possible, place your subject in the shade rather than in bright sunlight to avoid shadows and hot spots. Don’t crop too tightly. (You can do so later in editing but you can’t add it once it’s gone!)

Be discreet when shooting candid shots. Ask permission before photographing people, especially children. At an event, don’t interfere with a paid photographer. Turn off annoying beeps on your camera, especially in quiet places like churches or museums.


Overall, your photo should communicate with the viewer, tell a story, evoke emotion, or capture a moment in time. Attempt to have compelling compositions, good color, and lighting. Professional photographers use “leading lines” to draw you into the image and frame photos using the “rule of thirds.” (Place your subject on a dot along an imaginary grid to avoid a dead-center image.) For more serious photographers, avoid “noise” or grain by using a low ISO setting, and don’t overly process your image afterward by increasing saturation, sharpness, etc. Most importantly, remember all of these rules can be broken if the photo is unique and artistic!


Barbara Tricarico

President, Southern Oregon Photographic Association

Barbara Tricarico's Photography Albums

Helpful Hints for Photographers in the Hobbyist

Helpful Hints for Photographers in the Hobbyist