The fundamentals such as proper exposure and composition are a critical part of photography.  By understanding these photography fundamentals you can improve your images immensely.  But there are also some very basic things you can do without much studying or mastering new concepts.

1) Know your camera, really know it! – Whether you have a point and shoot or an advanced DSLR your camera is a sometimes complex machine full of features, buttons and dials.  The best thing you can do to really know your camera  is to read the manual from cover-to-cover.  The manual will give you all the basic information you need so that you can become familiar with all those functions and dials and buttons.

If you don’t have a manual for your camera you are not out of luck.  There are a couple of options for missing camera manuals.

2) Take your time – Rushing through a photo shoot is going to result in images that look like you rushed.  Take the time to explore your subject; to shoot from different angles; to really think about what you are shooting and the end image you would like to capture.

3) Pay attention – Pay attention to your surroundings and those of your subject.  Yes, the subject itself is important, but so is everything around it.  A distraction in the background can ruin the perfect shot.  If you have ever seen a tree growing out of the top of someone’s head in an image you know what I mean about the background.  But it is not just the background that is important.  All the elements of the setting can influence the final image.  Here are just a few things to be on the look out for:

  • Shadows – yours, your subjects and any others that might be creeping into your image
  • Distractions – in the background or in the foreground – anything that takes the focus off your main subject
  • Lighting – Glare, bright spots, dark spots, uneven lighting

4) See what everyone else is doing – One of the best ways to improve what you are doing with your photography is to see what your fellow amateur photographers are doing.  The Internet is full of resources for this.  Look, ask questions, make comments, post your own photos, ask for feedback.  Participate in the online photography community.  Here are a few places to start you off:

5) Shoot, shoot and shoot again – Cliche as it is, practice makes perfect.  Even if you don’t know the difference between shutter speed and aperture you can improve the images you capture by shooting and shooting often.  But don’t just shoot.  Take a critical look at your images and note what you like and what you would like to improve on next time.

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