10 Tips for Photographers: What Makes a Good Photo?

There are many different elements involved in photography that are used to get that perfect image. Lighting, composition, the subject; just to name a few. Photography is mostly about learning and figuring out what works best for you and your portfolio. In this article I have put together a, non-exhaustive, list of 10 tips and tricks to follow or consider when taking a photograph. Keeping these tips and tricks in the back of your mind when shooting will help produce more thought-provoking images, keep your viewer engaged, and help you to become a stronger photographer.


Lighting is arguably one of the most important elements to address in photography. In photography, the position of your light source, which can be natural or artificial, in relation to your subject can create different outcomes for your final photo. By paying attention to which parts of the subject are illuminated and which are in darkness, you can utilise light to make your images stronger.

Try shooting at different times of the day to exploit the varying positions of the sun or change the settings on your camera to control how much light enters the lens.

Figure 1: Canon EOS 1300d | ISO-100 | f/10 | 1/200sec | 24mm

Along with light, understanding colour is a valuable part of photography. It affects everything from composition to the viewer’s emotions and attention. Photographers use the colour wheel to create balanced colour combinations, also known as colour schemes. The three most common types of colour schemes are complimentary, which are found in polar opposites of the colour wheel; monochrome, which refers to a single hue with different variations of shade and tones; and analogous, which are colour schemes that use adjacent hues on the colour wheel. By studying the colour wheel, you will be able to make the most out of every image.

Figure 2: Canon EOS 1300d | ISO-100 | f/5.6 | 1/250sec | 50mm

Decide what it is that you want to be in focus and try to avoid camera shake. There is nothing worse than thinking you have captured the perfect moment only to realise when reviewing your shots that they are not in focus and are blurred. The exception to this of course, is if you are purposefully trying to make your subject blurred. Just by holding your camera correctly, with one hand on the body, the other hand around the lens, and the camera close to your body for support, can make all the difference. Another major factor is your shutter speed, the faster it is, the sharper your subject will be. If shooting with a slower shutter speed, be sure to use a tripod to get the best results.

Figure 3: Canon EOS 1300d | ISO-100 | f/3.5 | 1/125sec | 50mm


The rule of thirds is a compositional guideline that many photographers use to know how to position a subject to make a photo more visually engaging. It is the process of dividing an image into thirds, using two horizontal lines and two vertical lines, which are spaced equally apart to form nine identical sections. Within the imaginary grid, there are four intersectional points. It is at these intersectional points in which you want to position most of your subject. It is said when using this principle, a photo is at its most appealing.

Figure 4: HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro | ISO-50 | f/1.9 | 1/4000sec |7mm


Another trick-of-the-trade which can make your photos more visually appealing is to use leading lines. Lines are an element of design and are used to direct the viewer’s eyes into and along a photo to the focal point. It can also impact the mood of a photograph and bring a great sense of depth to it.

Figure 5: Canon EOS 1300d | ISO-100 |f/7.1 | 1/125sec |18mm


People are naturally drawn to symmetrical balance in photography. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, it can create a sense of harmony to the viewer. When two halves of your scene look the same and balance each other out it produces a clear and neat image. Symmetry can be used for the whole image or just part of it. Reflections from water can make great symmetrical photos.

Figure 6: Sony a7R IV | ISO-100 | f/22 | 1/125sec |35mm


Much like leading lines, shapes can be used to draw the viewers eye into the image. You will find shapes in most photographs, but by using a shape as the sole focus, a photographer can capture unique and interesting images that can really make their work stand out.

Figure 7: Sony a7R IV | ISO-100 | f/3.5 | 1/60sec |35mm


The repetition of patterns makes good compositional photos as they provide a sense of order in what otherwise might be chaotic. A famous pattern, known as the Fibonacci sequence, produces a beautiful spiral effect and can be found in natural things such as sunflowers, pinecones, or a fossil such as the one below. Patterns can be found in all sorts of weird and wonderful places.

Figure 8: Sony a7R IV | ISO-200 | f/3.2 | 1/160sec | 35mm


Textures can be smooth or rough, and photographers might capture textures to add depth, or balance to different areas of their work. It’s important to note that when attempting to capture lifelike textures, high levels of detail is needed.

Figure 9: Sony a7R IV | ISO-1600 | f/10 | 1/200sec |35mm


Last but not least, is timing. You can spend a lot of your time planning a photoshoot, but a lot of photography falls down to being in the right place at the right time, and patience and timing are key aspects in capturing outstanding photos. Train your eye to identify timing and anticipate decisive moments by looking at things in your everyday life and thinking when the best time would be to press the shutter. A photograph captures a fleeting moment, and it all comes down to the perfect timing.

Figure 10: Canon EOS 1300d | ISO-100 | f/7.1 | 1/125sec | 55mm

This is just a selection of elements to be mindful of when taking a photograph. Technically, a photograph could accurately represent any/all of these tips and still come out uninteresting. It is important to play around with your subject and your possibilities, otherwise you might miss the opportunity to capture something remarkable.

So, what makes a good photo? Well, that is subjective. A good photo to one person might not appear in the same way to another, but these concepts should guide photographers into becoming stronger, and help with improving their skills and knowledge.

I hope you have fun putting these tips into practise. Feel free to leave a comment on how you get on, or perhaps another tip that you find helpful which I haven’t listed.

Happy ClickASnapping!


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