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Photography Basics for Beginners: 3 Factors You Need to Know

by Angel De Leon, on Aug 18, 2021 1:16:06 PM

Presidio’s creative team is proud to offer professional photography services for our clients, but we know that there are countless moments just waiting to be captured using nothing more than a smartphone and some basic photography knowledge. 

Even the most seasoned creative professionals can sometimes find themselves planning and overthinking more than creating and sharing. When a creative rut takes hold, though, you shouldn't just wait for inspiration to strike. Don’t worry if you consider yourself a complete novice when it comes to photography. Instead, take out your smartphone and start capturing moments that make you proud of your organization and present it in a positive light.  

As you do so, keep a few basic things in mind. Without worrying about following all the standard “rules” of photography, you can understand these quick tips and feel prepared to capture real-time moments without overthinking and missing the opportunity. Below, we highlight the three most important factors to consider when aiming for great photos. 

 

Lighting 

Light can dramatically modify the mood of a photo, and that’s why lighting is probably the most critical element of photography and the one that best demonstrates how it can capture a subject. You don’t need to delve into details of photography rules, exposures, and different F stops. Instead, you can simply think back to your childhood to remember how dramatic lighting effects can be. Remember telling spooky stories as a kid and holding a flashlight under your chin for dramatic, frightening shadows? Now compare that to the calm feeling of climbing up a tree and seeing the sun peeking through the branches. What a difference! 

In photography, there are plenty of light sources to choose from: the sun, a lamp, a phone's flashlight, or even a computer screen. No matter which one you choose, be aware of where that light source is coming from. If you’re taking photos outside, check out this quick guide to natural lighting angles. Indoor photography can be trickier, but you can still take great photos without buying tons of professional equipment. Check out some tips here.

Photograph of children with the sun in the background

Framing 

Don’t forget to pay attention to framing! Most of your composition could look great, but an awkwardly cut-off arm on one side of the frame will immediately distract your audience. Never cut off limbs, and always consider what the real subject of your photo is. Move your camera around to test out different angles and zoom options. Remember that you can also do some editing later to crop to the right frame; cropping won’t work, though, if you frame the photo too closely at the start. 

You can also search for framing objects – doorways, windows, branches, arches – that will serve as a frame within a frame, adding even more visual interest to your composition.

 Rear view of man testing out framing the landscape with his hands

Composition 

Now, focus on composition: how the elements within a photo are arranged. A composition can be made up of many different elements, or it can involve only a few. It’s how you put those things together within a frame that helps a photograph intrigue your viewer.  

Be aware of your composition, and make sure you find balance and the right amount of distance between yourself and the subject. It’s usually best to find symmetry in your photos when capturing close-ups. For some photos, though, you may want to utilize negative space in some of your photos to add visual interest: leaving part of the composition empty will draw the eye immediately to your main subject. You can also take advantage of your smartphone’s gridlines to follow the famous “rule of thirds.” You can turn these on by going to your settings and navigating to its camera section.

 Gridlines on smartphone-1

If you capture an amazing photo, no one will question whether that image was captured on a high-end camera or a mobile device. The moment and photo always win, not the gear. Have fun with the camera, and don’t forget to capture the moments. 

Taking amazing photos will increase the opportunity for your communications team to connect to your desired audience. Make sure to take photos and showcase them!


Angel De Leon headshot-1Angel De Leon
Creative Associate

Angel brings his more than seven years of videography and photography experience to Presidio's creative team. After honing his production and creative skills for many years in the commercial creative realm, he now applies them in the service of nonprofit and public agency clients.

Topics:PhotographyCommunications

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