Simple, innit?

Today, I present you with one page from my next upcoming book, “Mastering Your Camera”, a no-jargon guide to using any DSLR.


When people ask me “what is the difference between my snapshots and a professional picture?”, I most commonly say “the pro simplified her picture”. Simplifying your images is probably the most important thing to not forget.

“Simplifying” does not necessarily mean “removing everything but your subject from the photo”, although that is one way. More accurately, it means “ensuring that everything that is in your photo is in your photo because it should be in your photo”. If it shouldn’t be there, it shouldn’t be there!

Sedona, AZ: Tilting Away The “Stuff”

Take the picture above. I tiled this image because next to the girls, there was a garbage can. That garbage can did not belong in the picture – it was not a picture of “two garbage cans in Sedona, AZ” – so I wanted it gone.

How can you simplify a picture? There are many ways, and you can come up with them yourself. They include:

  • Move: you do not have to take the image from right where you are. Often, moving to a different location makes all the difference.
  • Wait: Often, distractions disappear. The photo of the guard at The Alamo earlier in the book had three tourists right behind his neck: I waited until they were thus invisible, and then pressed the shutter.
  • Viewpoint: shoot from a different angle: a circle has 360 degrees, not just one…
  • Zoom: filling the frame is also a good way to get rid of distractions.
  • Blur: blurring the background by using a low “f-number” is also a great way.
  • Tilt: see the example above!
  • Selective light: only light the objects you want to see; keep the rest in the dark.
  • Move the subject or the offending objects. If you are not a photojournalist (for whom this is taboo!) then you can ask the subject to move, or move the distracting objects.

That is a partial list: you can come up with more ways yourself. The key is just to remember to do it.


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