Photography 101: How to Capture your Best Life on Camera

Trying to capture that perfect sunset or your delicious brunch for all your followers to feast their eyes upon can be a bit frightening. If you’re anything like me, any photo you take will be picked and prodded at by your own mind, scrutinized for every flaw. After all, we are our own harshest critics! 

Not to mention, social media provides a breeding ground for judgment, especially with the constant pressure to gather more likes, retweets, and followers. Posting pictures is a nerve-wracking experience, so to try and make it a little bit easier I’ve compiled some of my favorite tips and tricks for capturing your best life on camera! 

  1. 1. The subject doesn’t have to be the center.

    When my photography teacher first broke the news that your subject should not always be in the middle of the picture, I was shocked. Wouldn’t you want the highlight of your photo front and center? That was when she explained the Rule of Thirds. The Rule of Thirds is one of the main guidelines for photographers, where if a photo is split into three equal parts, the subject should be in the furthest left or right third. When this is the case, the viewer’s eyes must follow across the photo to find the subject, and thus they spend more time observing it. Since we’re not all trying to be Annie Leibovitz, you don’t have to always follow the Rule of Thirds, but personally, I use it as a tool to diversify my photos.

  2. 2. Pay attention to your background.

    Look at the photo above. Notice anything off? Chances are your eyes were immediately drawn to the nasty trash can in the the background of that otherwise beautiful photo (if I do say so myself). Even if it isn’t anywhere close to the subject, distracting and/or unsightly objects placed in a photo can take away from its message and beauty, drawing one’s gaze to them instead of the person or object you want the viewer to see. 

  3. 3. Color coordination.

    Some of the best “feeds” I’ve seen on Instagram incorporate the same tones and shades in all of their photos. Take a peek at the amazing Natalie Held’s feed here. She masterfully incorporates peachy oranges, whites, pinks, and lilac shades throughout her photos, so whether warm or cool-toned they all meld together. When putting together an outfit, one of the first concerns is if the colors between your clothes go together. Coordinating your feed is the same thing. If you’d be embarrassed to wear orange and teal together, putting those on your Instagram has the same effect. Paying attention to the colors in your photos, whether that be in the moment or while editing, can give that pretty acai bowl photo an extra boost.

  4. 4. Mix it up!

    This one’s simple. Don’t take pictures of the same thing! Whether that be selfies, sunsets, or food, posting the same subject over and over can give off the impression that’s the only thing in your life. I love to see photos of friends, or that cloud you thought looked like a bumblebee, or your new haircut, or your cat (especially your cat), because we both know there’s more to your big, beautiful life than a single subject.

  5. 5. Share all the emotions.

    Finally, you’re human, and you’re not always happy. While you may not want to share your bad hair day or the test you flunked on social media, there’s plenty more feelings and emotions and thoughts than happy-happy-happy floating around in your head! Sometimes we’re reflective, or excitable, or maybe passionate or pensive. Sometimes you may be sad about graduating, or nervous about your first day at the internship, and it’s okay to show that. In fact, I always appreciate it when people do. Being real is beautiful and it’s human. When you post that first-day outfit, don’t be afraid to share how nervous you are because others will relate.

Taking photos is a passion of mine, but even after years of striving for the perfect picture I still make mistakes. I’ll still find trash cans in the background, or catch myself pretending I’m happy when I’m not, and I have to slow down and remind myself of these tips. Now I hope you too can look to these, and remember them as you post that brunch selfie. Don’t forget to smile for the camera!  

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