Learn how to take great photos


We asked our Fujifilm guest, professional-photographer Mat Trim (LBIPP) to give us his top ten tips for taking the perfect picture.

1: Don't just snap. Take a photograph

Model taking a photoA lot of people just take snaps, and don't think about what they're doing. It's a different thing taking a snap and a photograph.

A snap is what people take with a mobile phone camera or something similar. When you have a digital camera, people sometimes don't think about what's in the picture; rubbish bins, things growing out of people's heads, inappropriate signs, the list is endless!

It only really takes two or three seconds of thought and you can change the whole picture.

2: Nobody looks good shot from a low angle

If you ever have a professional portrait done, the guy is halfway up a step ladder. So, for portraits always get height and shoot down.

Everyone looks better. It gets rid of double-chins and all sorts of problems. The only drawback with shooting down is if someone's losing their hair!

3: Use contrast

Use light and shade, texture, colour, anything to provide a bit of interest. It's looking out for the shot, which links back to tip number one.

4: Use the rule of thirds

ThirdsThis is all to do with how the brain works. We don't tend to like symmetry in anything – we prefer things in odd numbers.

What people often do when taking a picture of a landscape is to divide it perfectly in half, balancing with the sky and the land.

If you look at any good landscape photography it's always either one third sky and two thirds land or vice versa.

It also works on the vertical plane as well as the horizontal. On Fuji cameras you can press a button and get a 3×3 grid up on the screen and then you can move your camera around and put the horizon in the right position.

5: Frame the shot

A big sky shot can be pretty boring so you might want to put trees into it. Or, if you're taking a picture of someone, you might want to put them into an archway. Use anything to frame the shot.

6: Look for different angles

777You can use the lines of paths or railings to lead the eye into your shot. A classic example would be on a pier. With most people what you would have is just two converging lines of the pier rails and that's not interesting.

If you take just one step to the left or right and allow the railing to travel into the picture, they will lead the eye. It's a classic painters' trick. They use lines to lead your eye in and to make you look.

It's literally just taking a step to the side to change the whole aspect of the picture.

7: Use the self-timer for night shots

If you're doing any night-time photography, one of the most useful camera tools is the self-timer.

Obviously, if it's a night shot it's going to a long exposure, which means the shutter's going to be open for a prolonged period of time.

You just stick the camera on a rock, frame the shot, activate the self-timer, and press the shutter. Nothing happens for a couple of seconds, giving the camera time to be still, and you're away. It works every time.

8: Turn the camera 90 degrees and fill the frame

This is really simple, just turn the camera!

Everybody takes their pictures in landscape, but some pictures look better vertically rather than in the horizontal position.

If you're taking a picture of Battersea Power Station you could do it in landscape but it'd mean it'd be quite a long way away because you couldn't get the height in. But if you did it in portrait and came to one corner of it, it'd be a much better shot.

Also, fill the frame. People seem to worry about fitting it all in and take pictures from too far away or they get excited and take a picture before they're anywhere near it.

Get in close and get a tight shot!

9: Learn to use the focus lock

Focus lockYou've probably seen these pictures where the person in the foreground is fantastically sharp and everything behind is blurred. It really brings to focus the person in the foreground and you can use it in all sorts of situations, mainly in close-up work where you're taking pictures of butterflies or flowers.

Using focus lock, half press the shutter button to frame the camera on what you want to get a picture of, so everything in the picture is set. Then move the camera. The point being that everything behind the object of the picture is out of focus while the object is pin sharp.

It's meant to separate the foreground from the background. When you're doing pictures of plants and trees sometimes you can't see the wood for the trees, literally. But if you want to focus on one tree, just get closer. Then focus on the tree, use the focus lock, move and take the picture.

There's a bit more than that but the focus lock is a very useful tool. It gives you more control over your camera. It's such a useful feature, professionals use it all the time.

10: Be aware of the light

If the sun is behind the person you're taking a picture of, the camera sees a lot of light coming into it so it starts to shut the doors so that the sun and everything else are perfectly exposed while the people in the foreground are in shadow.

Some cameras have a fill-in flash which will fire a flash off when it detects light behind the subject. However, it's not always guaranteed and the flashes on digital compact cameras aren't normally powerful enough to overcome that amount of light.

So it's just a simple thing, if the sun's behind whoever you're shooting, just get them to turn round and you go where they were. Now, if they're squinting into the sun, which is often the case, all you have to do is get the sun slightly over to their left or right.

Final thoughts…

Fujifilm 14MP bridge cameraIt all boils down to tip #1; think about the picture. Take lots and lots of pictures because after a while you'll start to learn what works and what doesn't work.

The word 'professional' doesn't necessarily mean that someone's photos are any better, it just means they're getting paid for it. There are amateur photographers who are a million times better than I am or another professional photographer because it's an art, so stick at it.

Check out our range of photography equipment

Mat explains what a bridge camera is


  1. Mrs Webling January 5, 2009 at 9:54 am -  Reply

    Really useful article, I’ve recently just purchased a Fuji camera from QVC and still learning how to use it.

  2. Steve January 5, 2009 at 11:41 am -  Reply

    As usual Mat Trim is always informative, and this page is brilliant so I can print it out keep it for reference.

  3. Tracy Jones January 5, 2009 at 5:30 pm -  Reply

    Thanks for this printable article, really enjoyed the learn to be a photographer show this morning also, hope to have more.

  4. Kerry January 6, 2009 at 9:17 am -  Reply

    Some excellent advice. I received a Fuji camera last Christmas and didn’t know what the grid lines where for – can’t wait to get snapping with all the excellent advice we’ve received. My Dad has also been struggling to get to grips with his new camera so I’ll be sharing the advice tips with him. Thank you Mat and QVC for these great tips.

  5. bidith dey January 6, 2009 at 9:18 am -  Reply

    excellent show this morning! hope to have more. learnt alot in a hour then i ever did about photography.

  6. Stewart January 12, 2009 at 10:00 am -  Reply

    What a great show, Mat really set the standard for the “Learn to be” slots. I learned a great deal in a short space of time, hope this can be repeated for other technoligies.
    More Techno Gadgets please and thanks for an excellent show.

  7. Mrs Rosalind Porter January 25, 2009 at 5:36 pm -  Reply

    I bought the Fujifilm s5800 as an upgrade from s5500 both bought from QVC. Although I have been using it for a few months I was pleasantly pleased at how informative and easily Mat explained everything. Nothing complicated or daunting. Can’t wait to get out and try the hints and tips.

  8. raver June 30, 2009 at 12:32 am -  Reply

    Matt is very interesting to listen to and you get some excellent tips on how to take a better photo. I bought the fuji s5800 just by listening to matt explaining about it. It takes excellent photos but i am afraid i like it so much that i now use it more than my husband! Keep up the good work, i always record your shows when i know you are on

  9. Carole January 24, 2010 at 10:43 pm -  Reply

    Thanks Matt I always enjoy watching you on QVC and I will definately try the tip about using the self timer for night shots. I purchased the Fuji S8100fd from QVC and have been really pleased with the results.

  10. Mark February 6, 2010 at 6:16 pm -  Reply

    As usual Mat Trims article was very helpful. I have purchased my
    4th fuji camera from QVC the FINEPIX S1600 like Mat I think the camera is great, very easy to use already had some great pictures
    Thanks Mat

  11. Damian April 27, 2010 at 5:10 pm -  Reply

    I have also Purchest the Fuji S1600 and The Fuji HS10 I have also got Lots of Other Fuji Camera’s and Many Others All Purchest from QVC and I have gone for The Todays Special Value The Sanyo Xacti CG20 in Black

  12. joan abbott December 17, 2012 at 9:26 pm -  Reply

    Hi Matt, I always watch when you are on qvc, for the helpfull tips on photography, I already have a Fugi Bridge Camera and love it. What I would like to know is how do I get a grey or Black and photo and then make one item coloured. Do I need special software, Many thanks Joan

  13. Mat Trim December 19, 2012 at 11:19 am -  Reply

    Hi Joan,
    Thanks very much for your comment.
    To get a picture like the London Eye shot I used Photoshop but there is easier and a lot cheaper software out there
    try this – http://www.indii.org/software/tintii/download
    With photography and i’m sure you agree – practise makes perfect – the more you shoot the better the photographs
    become, so that is my first bit of advice. The other is to concentrate on composition and remember the rule of thirds.
    I have shot some handy how-to videos which you may find useful and can find here: http://www.qvcuk.com/PhotographyMasterClass.content.html
    Again thanks for the comment Joan and keep up the good work!!
    Kind Regards
    Mat Trim

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