Mat Trim’s top 5 tips for professional-quality photos


Mat TrimAs our Today's Special Value offer on Sunday will be a fantastic Fujifilm bridge camera, we thought you budding photographers out there might appreciate a few pointers towards capturing professional-quality photos

Our resident photography expert, Mat Trim (left) has put together five key pieces of advice to get you snapping superb shots every time.

You can catch him on air this Sunday – plus, keep your eyes peeled on and QGossip as we'll be giving you a chance to win a lesson with the man himself!

#1: Fill the frame

Unfortunately most beginners never get close enough to the subject, worrying that they're not going to get the shot. But my advice is to get close or "fill the frame" as the professionals call it.

Make sure that the subject completely fills the LCD screen or viewfinder before you take the picture. It's always good practice to compose the photograph in the screen beforehand. This means treating the LCD screen like a miniature picture frame or postcard and try to imagine the finished shot before you press the shutter button.
Fill Frame First Image Fill Frame Second Image Fill Frame Third Image

#2: Stick to the rule

Rule of thirds With this tip I also recommend you get to know your camera and its features. The rule I'm talking about is the "rule of thirds". Most digital cameras have the ability to turn on a little grid on the LCD screen on the back of the camera. This grid divides the picture into thirds horizontally and thirds vertically and is a great guide in how to use the rule of thirds.

It was Leonardo da Vinci who investigated the principle that underlies our notions of beauty and harmony and called it the "Golden Section" and therefore invented the principles of the rule of thirds.

It is much more pleasing to the eye to split things into thirds, so never have the horizon across the middle of the picture. Try either to have two-thirds sky and one-third ground or vice versa and endeavour to have the main action or person positioned where the gridlines cross.

#3: De-clutter

Declutter This goes a little with my stop and think rule (at the bottom) but is a problem for a lot of photographers – keep the picture simple and don't forget the golden rules; no beer glasses, rubbish bins, offensive graffiti, litter, and remove anything that may distract the eye.

I was recently commissioned to photograph a concert French horn player and was merrily taking her portrait when I noticed her watch. It was very expensive but very large and it totally distracted the eye, once it was removed my eye wasn't distracted and the photo once again had harmony.

Also, be AWARE! How many times have you taken a photograph and had things growing out of people's heads and worse, fools behind the subject acting the goat! It's worth just a moment to step back and check for unsightly things before you take a photograph and not to find that the only decent picture of your Auntie Flo has a palm tree growing out of her head and she's standing next to next to a dog waste bin – yuck!

#4: Use the light

Use the light Think about the light and more importantly where it is and I mean mostly THE SUN! It's probably best to keep our primary source of illumination over the photographer's left or right shoulder, behind the picture taker. But light is the key to photography and being aware of it is one of the differences between a "happy snapper" and a photographer.

Light is what photography is all about. Without it we wouldn't be able to take photographs – that's why our cameras have their own source of light – a built-in flash. Learning to control the light is what makes us better photographers.

Try not to use the flash too much indoors – if possible try to turn the flash off and let the camera use the natural light, it's worth experimenting with this and, because it's digital, it doesn't cost us anything – so give it a go!

#5: Stop and think

Stop and Think It sounds like road safety advice but taking a minute to think about the picture is one of the reasons my holiday pictures don't look like just snaps and I'm usually proud to have them on the wall.

I often see tourists pouring off coaches snapping as they come down the steps – it would be much better for them to take a moment and look for a different angle and even a better shot without thousands of tourists in it.

Try to imagine what the finished photograph would look like and try to use compositional techniques like using lines to lead the eye into the picture and the rule of thirds I mentioned earlier. Photography is an art and can be very rewarding. Just think, it could be your photos on the wall next time or, even better, your photo behind the weather presenter on the local news programme.

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