How to take the perfect photo

Getting expert shots is easier than you think.

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes


After reading this article, you will know:

  • The equipment you’ll need
  • The best time of day to take photos
  • How to compose your photos
  • How to work with people when taking portraits

You don’t have to be a professional photographer in order to take a decent photo. Nowadays, you don’t even need a fancy camera in order to snap a high-quality shot; all you need is your smartphone. Regardless of the type of equipment used, anyone can learn how to take the perfect photo using these pro tips.

Plan the perfect time to shoot.

Shoot outdoors if possible, because natural light is easier to work with than artificial lighting equipment. Try to shoot your photos during the “golden hours”: the hour after sunrise, and the one before sunset. By taking photos at these times, you’ll find that shadows are longer due to the lower angle of the light. The warmer tones created by this low light make dawn or dusk popular times of day to shoot portraits, as the soft light is more flattering and won’t make people squint their eyes. If you can only shoot during harsh sunlight hours, look for shaded areas.

Of course, it’s not always possible to shoot outside. If you are capturing photos indoors, never shoot in front of a window or have the light source behind the subject. Another indoor lighting trick is to have the light source come from the side of the subject; this can add some drama to your photo.

Think about composition.

This refers to the placement of subjects in a photo, so you’ll want to have an idea of how you’re planning to use the photo before you set up your shot. It’s a good idea to visualize the final design when planning your shoot. Pick a couple of your favorite card designs beforehand, and you can compose your shots accordingly.

Remember to always keep the rule of thirds in mind – mentally divide your photo in three and place your subject on one of the dividing lines. For example, if the selected card design has text on the right, you can place your subject on the left side of the frame to ensure that there’s plenty of space to add your message later. Also, if you plan to overlay your photo with text, make sure your background is either dark or light, with very little contrast. This will make the text stand out against your image.

Shoot with your final design in mind. Vistaprint offers a wide variety of design templates, including some that feature square images, so you can edit your design via Instagram or other popular image apps.

If you are going to shoot with the idea of overlaying your photo with text, make sure your background is either dark or light, with very little contrast, so that you can read the text overlaying the image clearly.

Don’t stress out over smiles.

Trying to crack a smile under pressure can be a challenge, especially when the subject is shy. Relax your subjects to avoid awkward poses by telling a joke or acting silly. Never underestimate candid moments, either, as these can seem more natural. Serious shots with the subject looking at the camera can be powerful and are more appropriate for professional portraits for LinkedIn or website headshot photos.

Shoot like a pro on the go.

You don’t need an expensive SLR camera to start taking great pictures. Those who prefer snapping photos with their smartphones can still benefit from some expert tips.

  • Before you begin shooting, be sure to clean your lens. This will help you to achieve a crystal-clear photo.
  • If you’re deciding between a colour or black-and-white photo, always shoot in colour first. You can always change to a different filter later.
  • Get close to your subject. The more you zoom from afar, the lower the quality. So step right up and shoot.

Start with these easy tips and, with a little practice, you’ll be shooting photos like the pros in no time.

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