Tips on taking great photos

We love to see the outcomes of the grants that we make and to share in your journey along the way. Sending in or pointing us to your online photos is a great way to do that. Despite nearly every phone having an inbuilt camera these days, it’s not always easy to take great photos.

Lisa Clarke, from ABC Capricornia, outlined 40 very helpful tips on how to take a good photo. We’ve chosen a selection of her tips and added some of our own that are most relevant to community groups taking photos to send to us. So before you take those photos, take some time to take a look through these tips:

Check your settings

These days, most of our phones have the ability to take great shots, as do the ‘average’ ‘point and shoot’ cameras and of course the DSLR’s. No matter what camera you use, start by making sure that you have the right settings. Even if you choose to use the auto settings, make sure that it is saving the file as a high-resolution images.  Ideally, they should be at least 300dpi, and around 1mb in file size, and at least 1000 pixels wide.

Get in close

Fill the frame with your subject and see how much better your photo will look without so much wasted space. The closer you are to the subject, the better you can see their facial expressions too.

If you’re shooting a building, make sure you get as close as you can if you’re showing the full building – but equally, don’t be afraid to take a close up shot of those windows that were really tricky to paint, for example. Let us share your journey!

Include people…

Photos that have people in them are much more interesting and engaging than those that don’t, so where possible, include people in your photos. And have them doing something, rather than just looking straight at the camera.

But not too many people

Given most photos that we use are published online we suggest that you have no more than five people in a photo. Sometimes that’s just not possible – say where you are taking a photo of the attendees at a workshop, or those graduating from a course – but as a guide, 3-5 people is a good number. That way we get to see exactly who was there, even if we make the photo smaller!

Check the light

Whether it is natural light coming from the sun, or an artificial source like a lamp, always check before you raise your camera to see where the light is coming from, and then try to use it to your advantage.

  • How can you use it to make your photos better?
  • How is the light interacting with the scene and the subject?
  • Is it highlighting an area or casting interesting shadows?

Don’t be afraid to use flash during the day

You might think that you should only use flash at night time or indoors, but that’s not the case at all. If it is an extremely bright day outside and the sun is creating harsh shadows on your subject, switch on your flash. By forcing extra light onto your subject, you will be able to fill in those ugly shadows and create an even exposure.

Know a good joke

A well timed joke will always yield a more natural smile, than simply saying “smile”. If jokes aren’t your forte, then think of a word that you know always makes people smile and get them to say it.

Take your time

Take time to think about what is going on in the viewfinder before pressing the shutter. Don’t jump straight in without giving it some thought first.

  • How are you going to compose the shot?
  • How are you going to light it?

Keep it simple

Don’t try to pack too many elements into your image as it will just end up looking messy. If you just include one or two points of interest, your audience won’t be confused at where they should be looking or what they should be looking at.

Bear in mind too that many photos will be shared on the web,  which means that the image will often be made smaller. If you keep it simple then the picture will reproduce better at a smaller size as used online.

Make it active

Everyone likes to see photos of people doing something, so if your grant has been for children’s play equipment, for example, take a photo of the children using it. Or if it’s a new dishwasher, show us someone packing the dishwasher.  If it’s chairs and tables, we love to see photos of them in use.

Get a different perspective

Taking photos from a different angle, other than head-height can often help to enhance a photo. So perhaps consider how changing your perspective could enhance your image. Consider crouching, lying down, or elevating your position in reference to the subject.

Be aware of backgrounds and foregrounds

We’re often sent some great photos – except for the garbage bin, ugly wall, sign, big desk that is lurking about in the image. It’s not just the person or object in your frame, it’s everything else in the background or foreground that can make or break a great photograph. So don’t be afraid to ask the person you’re photographing to move (or move yourself) to avoid something ugly or distracting.

We look forward to seeing your photos! Send them to or post a link to them on our Facebook page.