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Avoid dull snapshots: Tips for taking truly stunning photographs

China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-15 08:03

Avoid dull snapshots: Tips for taking truly stunning photographs

Tourists take snapshots on Jan 10 with a landmark building, near the Malls at Oriental Plaza in Wangfujing, Beijing. [Photo by Xiao Chen/For China Daily]

Smartphone cameras have seen dramatic improvements, but technology alone won't produce shots that grab attention. That's where the human eye comes in.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when composing that shot, whether of family during the holidays or sights during a vacation. You don't need to own a fancy camera or mess with manual controls.

What's the subject

Give people something to latch onto when viewing your photo. As a rule of thumb, close-ups are better.

At a party, for instance, avoid wide shots of random people mingling in a room, as the room becomes the subject and that's boring. Instead, get close-ups of the guest or two who are laughing or singing. The photo is now about people having fun at a party.

People mingling can still be part of the shot, but in the background, to give people a sense the party's well attended. The same principle applies to parades: It's better to home in on one or two drummers than on the entire marching band, though the rest of the band can still be in the background.

For landscapes, keep in mind that it's tough to give viewers the same sense of grandeur you get from being there in person. But you can nudge viewers by focusing on specific elements, such as mountains or some trees. And of course, if there's wildlife, well, that's your subject.

Play around with depth

For those obligatory poses next to landmarks, there's no law saying you must actually stand next to the landmark. If the landmark is huge, you'll look tiny by comparison. Why not stand closer to the camera? Since photos are two-dimensional, it'll still look as though you're next to the landmark, but you'll look appropriately sized. You might need to try various depths until you get it right.

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