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147 photography techniques, tips and tricks for taking pictures of anything

Whether you're a complete beginner or a seasoned pro, it's always possible to learn the best photography tips – new photography techniques that will improve your skills. 

From camera craft to photo-editing and pro photography tips, this huge guide compiles some of the best expert tips and advice that's guaranteed to help you improve your photography.

So if you're after ways of mastering landscape photography, taking better portraits, improving your wildlife and macro shots, or just after quick photo-editing tips for Adobe Photoshop CC, Lightroom or Elements, this is the essential guide for you.

It doesn’t matter if you’re using a Canon, a Nikon or any other brand of camera. From SLR to Sony, mirrorless to Mamiya and film to Photoshop, this resource will enable you to unlock and understand everything that your equipment can do. 

We've arranged these photography tips and tricks into three main sections: camera craft, pro advice and photo-editing tips, so you can get started and improve your images right away. 

But we have much more on offer, too, through this list of video tutorials and step-by-step guides:

Landscape photography tips

(Image credit: James Paterson)

Sunset photography: tips and settings for perfect pictures
Depth of field and hyperfocal distance in landscape photography explained
Landscape photography composition: fill the frame with a wide angle lens
Shoot great waterfall photos by using a slow shutter speed
Landscape photography composition: cheats to create effective frames
Garden photography: tips for using long lenses to get great floral photos
Reflections photography: 4 tips to capture symmetry in scenes
• Capture amazing landscape photography by using your camera's histogram

Portrait photography tips

Studio portrait lighting: essential tips and setups explained
Headshot photography tips: shoot the perfect head-and-shoulders portrait
Couple photography: poses for portraits of pairs of people
Fine art nude photography: tips and techniques
Boudoir photography tips: lighting, posing and camera skills
Fill-in flash: tips and tricks for using a flashgun in daylight
Perfect the strobist look with off-camera flash photography
Bounce flash: tips to achieve natural lighting with a flashgun
Gobo lighting: tips for dramatic portraits and film noir photography
Baby portraits: get great shots with these baby photography tips
• Take a great group photograph: tips for posing perfect people shots

Macro photography tips

Focus stacking: how to get amazing depth of field in macro photography
How to use extension tubes for low cost-macro photography
Close-up filters: shoot macro photography without a macro lens
Capture flower photography outside: diffuse light with a DIY studio

Animal photography tips

Big cat photography: 10 tips for amazing safari photos in a wildlife park
Pet photography tips: how to get great pictures of dogs
Zoo photography tips: how to get great pictures of animals
Bird photography: tips to get great shots of birds in flight
Build a photography bean bag and get stable shots without a tripod

Magnum Learn: Street photography tips

‘New York City’ by Bruce Gilden (1984)

‘New York City’ by Bruce Gilden (1984)

(Image credit: Bruce Gilden/Magnum Photos)

• Magnum Learn: How to shoot street photography like a pro
• Magnum Learn: Getting started – approaching the street
 Magnum Learn: Case study – on location with Martin Parr
• Magnum Learn: Learn how to take photos of people

Photography tips using filters

How to use an ND filter for slow-shutter-speed seascapes
Use a polarizing filter to cut through reflections
Infrared photography using a filter: tips and techniques
How to use polarizing filters for colorful cross-polarization effects
How to use an ND graduated filter for stunning landscape photography
• Use a polarizing filter to get stunning skies in your landscape photography
How to use ND filters for long exposure photography during the day

Creative photography tips

Levitation photography: how to make objects float
Free lensing: get the Lensbaby look and take macro shots with a standard lens
Pinhole photography: make your own pinhole camera using a body cap
Point of view photography: tips to get great POV photos
Painting with light: how to paint landscapes with torchlight
 Worm's eye view photography: tips for unique flower and nature photography
• Light painting: tips for photographing light orbs
 Artistic shadows: create a classic ring heart shadow on a book image
Fisheye lens camera tips: get great shots with a fisheye lens for Canon and more

Camera hacks & DIY photography

(Image credit: Future)

DIY photography hack: add camera stabilization to ANY camera body!
• iPad photography hacks: Creative lighting ideas for cheap photography projects
• DIY softbox: how to build your own lighting modifier

Astrophotography tips

(Image credit: Chris Rutter)

• Star trail photography: tips for achieving amazing astrophotography shots
Northern Lights photography: tips and techniques for stunning images

Motion photography tips

Panning photography: capture speed and movement in your images
Water drop photography: freeze water splashes with off-camera flash
Stroboscopic portraits: staccato images using a strobe light for photography

Still life photography tips

 Still life photography: use depth of field to get your entire subject sharp

Analog photography tips

Digitizing slides and prints using a DSLR or mirrorless camera
Digitizing slides and negatives using a scanner

Camera tutorials & equipment guides

Cleaning a camera sensor: tips for removing sensor spots and dust
Cleaning a camera lens: tips for removing dust and fingerprints

Stay tuned as we will be constantly updating this page with the latest techniques, photo projects, instructionals and camera guides to help you get the most out of your photography. 

And for even more videos, make sure to check out our best-selling photography publications, Digital Camera magazine, PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, Digital Photographer and N-Photo. Each issue comes with a free disc packed with photography projects, techniques and tutorials, Photoshop lessons and much more. These are broken down into detailed guides in the magazine pages, too, so you can bring the mag along and follow the steps on your next shoot.

Tip 1. Go eye-to-eye with nature

Take the same approach for portraits of animals and plants as you do for portraits of people. That means getting ‘eye to eye’ with the subject with a relatively long lens and using a reasonably large aperture, such as f/4, to help separate them from busy background details. 

At close distances, only a small part of the subject will be sharp, so care needs to be taken with focusing. 

Tip 2. Find a frame to shoot through 

A framing device can help to funnel a viewer’s attention to the right place in a picture, add context and structure – and mask ‘dead’ areas, too. 

Frames can be actual frames, such as shooting through an open door or a window, or implied, such as the branches of a tree. They can also be diffuse – try positioning the camera close to flowers and shooting a subject beyond them to add a soft, colourful frame. 

Tip 3. Using flash in daylight 

If you find that you’re coming unstuck with your exposures when you’re trying to mix natural light and flash, switch off the flash and set the exposure for the daylight first. 

Use Manual mode so that the settings stay locked in on the camera, and base your exposure on the brightest part of the scene. Finally, switch on the flash and use this to brighten up the darker areas of the scene for a balanced result. 

Tip 4. Sharp shots without a tripod  

There are times when it isn’t wise to set up a tripod, such as on a bustling city street, and times when you need to stay mobile. 

Shutter speed becomes a prime concern in these situations; increasing the ISO, employing shake reduction, firing short bursts of shots, pulling the camera strap taut and bracing yourself against a wall or other available ‘furniture’ can all help. 

Tip 5. Shooting in a new location 

While it’s easy to explore Google Images to get a feel for the photographic potential of a location, if you’re visiting a spot for the first time, it’s worth pausing and getting a sense of place before trying to express it in an image. 

It might be tempting to attach your camera to your tripod, but there’s a lot to be said for exploring different viewpoints with a handheld camera to find the right angle and height to shoot from first. 

Tip 6. Include odd numbers 

Odd number of objects typically give more balanced compositions than even numbers, whether you’re shooting a group portrait, a sporting event or a landscape. So three is not a crowd... it will usually look better than a pair

Tip 7. Use the dioptre adjustment 

Many cameras enable the viewfinder sharpness to be improved using a feature called dipotre adjustment. Keep an eye on the readout in the viewfinder rather than looking at the image as you make any adjustments. 

Tip 8. Activate highlight warning 

You can set the playback display to flash a warning for highlights that are at risk of being exposed, which is a quick way to check exposure. 

Read more: How to always get your exposure right

Tip 9. Remember to reset your camera 

If you’ve been making adjustments to your camera for a specific shot, such as dialling in exposure compensation, don’t forget to return the settings to normal when you finish shooting, ready for next time. 

Tip 10. Pre-focus for action 

If you’re able to predict where a moving subject is going to be, pre-focus the lens on that spot: this can speed up the time it takes for the autofocus system to lock onto the subject and give you a much better chance of grabbing the shot. 

Tip 11. Try Shutter Priority 

For sharp shots, you need a fast shutter speed. To guarantee this, use Shutter Priority, dialling in your preferred shutter speed, and switch to Auto ISO; the camera will adjust the aperture and sensitivity according to the light 

Tip 12. Try Aperture Priority 

Shooting in Aperture Priority mode enables you to control the depth of field as well as the exposure. 

Keep an eye on the camera’s shutter speed in the viewfinder, though, otherwise you might end up with shots ruined by camera shake.  

Tip 13. Check the AF mode 

Make sure that you use One Shot/Single Servo for stationary subjects and AI Servo/Continuous Servo to keep track of moving ones. 

Tip 14. Close-up depth of field 

The closer you are to a subject, the shallower the depth of field is. If this results in too much blur, try moving farther away and crop the shot to a tighter composition later.

Tip 15. Spot metering 

For more accurate exposures, switch to spot metering and aim the metering area at a part of the subject you want to be recorded as a mid-tone. 

Use your camera’s exposure lock function to lock this setting before recomposing the shot. 

Tip 16. Shoot sharp landscapes 

Small apertures such as f/16 and f/22 increase the depth of field, or the amount of front-to-back sharpness. Perfect for landscapes, you might think. 

The trade-off is that they lead to softer pictures due to the effects of diffraction (where the light rays are bent out of shape as they pass through the small hole). 

For sharper details, it may be worth sacrificing a little depth of field and using an aperture that’s a couple of stops down from the smallest setting.  

Tip 17. Working with a tripod 

A tripod enables you to close the aperture of your shot down if you require a greater depth of field, and also to reduce your ISO to the highest quality setting. 

It’s also essential when you want to shoot longer exposures in low light, but a combination of strong gusts and spongy ground can make things tricky. 

In these conditions, you may have to resort to setting up on a firm area and keeping the tripod low, shielding the legs from the wind with your body.  

Read more: 7 golden rules of tripod stability

Tip 18. Brush up on your reflector skills 

To prevent your portrait-sitter from squinting into the sun, position them so their back is towards the sun and use a reflector to bounce light onto their face, ‘feathering’ the reflected light rather than bouncing it directly into their eyes. 

It’s worth experimenting with different reflectors. A silver one adds a clean, crisp quality; a white one gives softer results that are often easier to blend in. Gold reflectors add warmth, but use them with care. 

Tip 19. Shoot more flattering portraits 

The low-contrast light afforded by cloudy but bright days is great for portraits as you won’t get ugly shadows under eyebrows and noses, or glare on people’s skin. Focal lengths of 85mm and longer are more flattering than shorter lengths. 

The angle you shoot at also counts: shooting from slightly below eye level implies confidence and power, while shooting from slightly above is slimming and intimate. 

Read more: The three lenses every portrait photographer should consider

Tip 20. Get set up for candids 

Things happen quickly when you’re shooting candids, so you need to have your camera ready to go. Avoid using a brightly coloured camera strap, and wrap it around your wrist rather than over your shoulder. 

Hold the camera at chest or head height, where it’s quicker to get it up to your eye. Not only does enable you to react faster, it’s less likely to attract your subject’s attention. 

More photo tips and tricks

Pro tips from expert photographers

Photo-editing tips and shortcuts