Here in the USA it is estimated that we take over a trillion photographs each year! That doesn’t really count the deleted “oops!” or booking photos at the police station. At any given moment we are taking about as many photos as were taken in the whole of the 19th century, when photography first became available!

William Schoellkopf - Waiting Boat

Each year the number of photos that are taken gets larger, as more people have access to the equipment. The need for expensive camera supplies for amateur photographers has dwindled with the advent of more sophisticated cell phone cameras. Today it is even possible to take “movies” on cell phones, upload them to the internet and share them with the world.

There are some simple techniques that novices need in order to take fewer “oops” and more “aahs” in their photos. The basics are deceptively simple and the results become more satisfying when they are used.

Ready

Digital cameras are more and more popular and probably the best choice for beginners. Film is expensive and digital photos are easy to delete without developing first.

If you intend to use your cell phone for photo taking, be sure there is a camera in your phone. Go ahead and laugh, but I once watched a man trying to take photos with an older flip phone and get increasingly frustrated. When asked if he needed assistance, he fairly screamed that no matter how many places he looked he could not see the image of the photo he wanted to take. It was simple, really. He didn’t have a camera in that phone!

Aim

Practice holding the camera steady. Whether on your phone or not, photos taken by unsteady cameras are not memorable, at least in the ways you might want them to be. If it happens to be that once in a lifetime shot, disappointment at the blurs will happen. Do you need to steady one hand with the other? Rest your arms on something solid? As you continue to practice this you will become steadier, but give yourself time and patience.

Experiment with your camera. Additional apps are fun, but they can wait until you are confident with the basic photo taking techniques, notes William Schoellkopf. What features do you find on your device? How do they work?

William Schoellkopf - Flower

Shoot

Look around you and consider what might be an interesting photograph. A child, bent over a coloring book; or a pet lounging in the afternoon sun are good subjects. Colorful arrangements of flowers are great for beginner photos. Take a walk through the neighborhood or on a public trail. Notice how the tree branches make a design on the blue background of the sky. Look at the plants growing by the walkway or partway into the wooded areas. Birds perched on tree limbs or hopping on the walkway are

excellent photo subjects. There are lots of critters to photograph on public trails especially. We are fortunate to have so many miles of them in cities and towns all over the country. Take your time as you walk and look around you. Remember that flora, fauna, clouds, sky and critters are okay for photos. Family members are fun to photograph too. However, it is really not okay to take photos of strangers without their permission, unless of course you are catching them in the act of breaking the law! Ask the responsible adult if you see a child so adorable or doing something so interesting that you want a photo.

Above all, have fun and give yourself permission to make mistakes in taking photos. “Oops” can always be deleted, and sometimes those photos end up being the ones you want to keep!