Once you begin to look at the world for photographs, everything begins to take on new character and interest. You become differently aware of your surroundings, looking at them with a fresh eye. Your neighbors' gardens, the office buildings you pass every day, even common objects like coins or key chains—all can make compelling images.
The Caledonia is one of many apartment buildings newly constructed along Manhattan's High Line.
Photo Tip: Compose your building shots with a compelling foreground element to add interest, scale, and depth.
Window washers work on a skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo Tip: Use the distortion you get when the lines of tall buildings converge at the top of your frame to accentuate the soaring quality of a skyscraper.
Jasmine flowers float in a stone vessel.
Photo Tip: Simple works of art are all around you. Sometimes all it takes is careful framing or shooting from a different perspective to bring out an arresting juxtaposition of shapes, colors, or textures.
An English version of a biography of Mao Tse Tung sits on a table in a train.
Photo Tip: When photographing still life compositions, you can rely on natural light alone if you position the subject near a window. Curtains soften the sunlight, and the natural shadows fall in the same direction.
Japanese Maple, Oregon
A Japanese maple tree is surrounded by flowers in an Oregon garden.
Photo Tip: Gardens are ready-made objects of beauty, but photographing gardens takes some careful crafting. Find something significant to catch the eye—a figure, a prominent physical feature, a pond, or a splash of color.
Water Lily Seeds
The ripening seeds of a water lily reveal patterns and shapes that occur in nature.
Photo Tip: When photographing gardens, find an element that interrupts a pattern. It might be one tree trunk of a different color or a protruding rock that breaks the symmetry of concentric circles in the water.
Autumn leaves litter the ground beneath bamboo shoots.
Photo Tip: Remember that patterns found in nature can be less obvious. Blocks of color, either the same hue or different ones of about equal tonal value, can lend depth.
A teenage girl poses for a portrait on a stormy Nebraska day.
Photo Tip: When you photograph fashion, every element of the photo—the model, the clothes, the hair, the composition, and even the angle—contributes to the vision. Think about the pose; make sure your model knows what you’re after.
Farmers Market, California
Colorful produce is on offer at a California farmers market.
Photo Tip: What matters most when shooting food is that it should look fresh. The easiest photos are often the ones you get at outdoor markets, where street vendors may be cooking up sizzling local delicacies with ample sunshine to light your composition.
Gourmet Still Life
Caviar, asparagus, and slices of strawberry are arranged artfully on a plate.
Photo Tip: When photographing food, plan the entire composition. A simple background and just a few props, if any, make the food stand out best.
Friends celebrate with a wedding groom.
Photo Tip: When photographing weddings, bring along a small, lightweight stepladder to give you an overview of events and a different perspective.
A newlywed couple stops for a kiss under an arch of sparklers.
Photo Tip: Think of the wedding as a story that your photographs will tell. Go to the bachelor party. Catch the bride as she is getting her hair done. Keep an eye out for serendipitous moments.
A young boy smiles at the dinner table on Thanksgiving.
Photo Tip: On holidays, look for the moments that express the feeling of the day and then make pictures that convey them. Flash might distract people and upset the holiday mood you want to record. Adjust your ISO and shutter speeds to allow you to use whatever light is available.
A glowing Christmas tree lights up a living room in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Photo Tip: One approach to shooting a tree with lights is to combine flash, ambient, and indoor lighting. The flash lights up the tree, and a slow shutter captures the lights on the tree. Here, the photographer does not use a flash but rather boosts the ISO.
Mother and Son, Iceland
An Icelandic mother and son embrace.
Photo Tip: Look for the places in your house with the best light. Keep your camera set on autoexposure and autofocus. Then when someone does something interesting, you’ll be ready.
A baby is bathed in a kitchen sink.
Photo Tip: Being in the right place at the right time and having close-up, intimate access to your family is what home photography is all about. To get started, think carefully about what each member of your family likes to do. Does your daughter obsess over puzzles? Does your son do his homework at the kitchen table? Those moments don’t last forever. Seize the opportunities.