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Canon Rebel Series: It's Good to Have Great Neighbors

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, my neighbor has taught me a lot about photography, which is currently his side-business. I recently helped him create a site to show his awesome work, in return for a guest post on my blog to share more of his photography wisdom. Hope you enjoy!

Wendy was kind enough to let me “guest post” on her blog about photography. I use digital gear for portrait and event photography. With digital SLR’s like the Canon Rebel dropping steadily in price, more people have access to amazing imaging machines with more features you could ever use. Even digital point-and-shoots boast more bells and whistles than high-end film cameras of old. Trouble is, as complex and powerful as these cameras have become, many people don’t know simple rules for taking better pictures. So, here are some ideas to quickly improve your photographs, regardless of what camera you use:

1) Taking digital pictures is free! Take a lot of pictures. You won’t run out of shots like your old 24-frame film camera. No more “3..2..1..Smile!” Don’t just take one shot, take three or four of the same scene. Chances are that someone’s got their eyes shut in two frames, leaving you one or two good shots. I’ll easily take 200 images in a typical family portrait session. Fire away and dump the bad ones.

2) Get closer. I’m not just talking about relying on that 8x digital zoom, I’m saying physically get closer to your subject. By filling the frame with your subject, you’re reducing all other distractions. This brings us to #3….

3) Find a better background. Take a moment to check what is behind your subject. A great picture doesn’t have trash cans or a parking lot in the background. Maybe you can move five feet to the left, changing the background from a parking lot to nice bank of trees. Keep the background clean and simple.

4) You’re allowed to turn the camera sideways. With some exception, you’re more than likely taking pictures of people who are vertical, yet most beginning photographers only take horizontal pictures. Turn the camera on its side. You can do it. It works, particularly for close-up portraits on a person’s face.

5) The most direct route from a good picture to a great picture is the time-tested “rule of thirds”. I’ll bet many of you put your subject smack-dab in the middle to avoid the old fear of cutting someone’s head halfway out of the frame. While simple and effective, it also makes for rather static, boring pictures.

To use this rule, cut the frame into thirds horizontally and vertically. The main focus point of your picture (like the person’s eyes) should be near one of the intersecting points.

For whatever reason, our brains like to view things following the “rule of thirds”. Look at any magazine ad, the Mona Lisa, any of your favorite photographs. Chances are the main focus lies at or near one of these intersecting points in the frame.
Here’s how to do it:

a) Focus on the main subject and press the camera shutter halfway down. This focuses the camera on your subject (always the eyes in portraits).

b) Keep pressing the shutter halfway down, locking the camera’s focus on the subject.

c) Move the camera slightly to recompose the shot, placing the subject near one of these intersection points (usually the top intersection points for portraits).

d) Press the shutter all the way down to take the picture.

6) Last but not least, sometimes break all the rules. Take pictures from crazy angles. Partially cut off the subject in the frame. You’ll develop your own style. Wendy has some great examples of this throughout her blog – she has some amazing shots!

I hope these ideas help you create better images of your world. Check out to see examples of these rules at work. Good luck, and keep shooting.  - Scott Snider


  1. What a beautiful picture! Hopefully my pictures will turn out a little better with the thirds rule.

  2. I love all the really helpful information..especially the thirds rule...I don't take many pictures of people but there is alot her that will help me with my Jewelry shots...I am in the process of redoing all the pictures right now..Thanks again for this post...Your picture is really Beautiful....

  3. Thank you for this post! I just found your blog and will DEFINITELY be following along!!!!!! XOX


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