Simplify.. did I mention?

An oft-recurring subject: simplify your images.

Here is a rough shot, to start, – rough meaning straight out of the camera (often expressed as “SOOC” – now you know more jargon):

Girl, wall and hammer (Photo: Michael Willems)

Now simplified:

Girl, wall and hammer (Photo: Michael Willems)

There was nothing wrong with the light on the left, and in some versions I left it in. But look at what I simplified other than that:

  • I fixed perspective;
  • I removed the light stand on the right;
  • I fixed a lot of the rubbish on the ground (view at original size to see the leaves, cigarette-buts, chewing-gum wrappers, and so on in the original image);
  • I removed the weeds growing at the bottom of the wall.

Not earth-shattering, but a tiny bit of simplifying makes a major difference in making your image more professional.



After yesterday’s long post, a few short ones. You will, I hope, bear with me and forgive. And – simple is good, since I am sure you are all preparing for New Year’s Eve.

Simple is good – and in that vein, this one is to emphasize once more the importance of simplifying your pictures.

Shooter shooting shooter

You do this to make your pictures look better – much better – and you do it by:

  • Zooming in.
  • Repositioning yourself: up-down, left-right, and around.
  • Tilting!
  • Blurring the background.
  • Cropping.
  • ..even moving things or your subject.

This is the most important lesson for many amateurs, because it is the most sinned against and the easiest to fix.

Go check what you did on your last 100 images: could you have simplified?


One tip that may help you make better pictures: crop in the camera.

We always look at the image in the centre (or roughly in the centre) on our viewfinder. But next time you take a picture, look at the edges. Ask yourself: “is everything I see on the edges really necessary?”and remove everything that is not necessary, by:

  • Moving,
  • Zooming in,
  • Focusing selectively,
  • Repositioning yourself, or
  • Aiming your camera differently.

For example, like this:

Do this simple thing and your pictures will be simpler, and better.


“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”, said Robert Capa, famous photojournalist, in the 1940s.

Often, drawing attention to your subject can be effectively done through making it big.

And I mean big.



There is no mistaking what the subject is, and non-essential elements have been removed.

Try this more often than you do: yes you can do it, yes you can go close and crop off the sides, and yes, it is allowed.

Fill the frame

Another “fill the frame”-shot here for your edification.

Shot while I was having dinner at a wedding – I was one of the two photographers but we were fed, at a very nice table in a good position. And even there I was shooting. Like the arrangement at the centre of the table.


You can get good pictures anywhere you try. The closer you get, the easier it is. I used my 70-200mm lens for this. So whenever you think “what do I shoot now”, you can always pick some interesting item, zoom all the way in on it, and shoot.