10 steps to taking better photos


Works from Kevin Ballantine, Shaireen Vantuil and Ryan Ausden

Ryan Ausden, Reporter

With so many images flooding our social media and everyday lives, we have become numb to a majority of them, so how do you give your photos a point of difference?

According to Perth photographer Shaireen Van Tuil “A good image tells a narrative, holds emotional response and may have a social, political or abstract point of view.”

I interviewed Shaireen Van Tuil and Kevin Ballantine, two fantastic and established professional photographers from Perth to find some tips to help you improve your photography abilities.

Learning how to take photos properly helps massively as it benefits not only your photography skills but also your understanding of design, colour theory, working with people and it may even take you around the world if you can find a stable career within the field.

There are links in some of these pointers to external articles if you want to get a deeper understanding.

  1. Understand the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is debatably the most well-known fundamental of photography composition. It’s important to understand it as a poorly framed shot will never look right.


  1. Learn how to break rules. Rules of design, photography, and film can all be broken for the creative purpose to achieve a certain understanding, effect, or desire.


  1. Learn what exposure, aperture, and ISO to use. Think of these three as a triangle and without one of them being correct your entire image can look horrific. Understanding what exposure to use for example changes the mood of the photo. Having a shallow depth of field (with lots of blur) will cause there to be more focus on your subject rather than a long depth of field  where there is less blur as more is in focus.


  1. Understand lighting as it is one of the other most crucial fundamentals of photography and film. Know what light sources do to your photo, play around with various sources such as natural light, artificial light or even neon coloured lights to see how they interact.


  1. Ballantine said: “Interesting photos are made by interesting people.” He believes that this is core part of his photography and I firmly stand by it. Some people simply come up better in photos due to the character or energy that they bring to the moment which is then reflected in your image.


  1. Learn your equipment. Regardless of what camera you have, skilled photographers have a deep understanding of their gear. Don’t be ashamed to use automatic settings on your camera if it has that as an option as well. Of course, it’s not as ideal as knowing your camera inside out but sometimes with how advanced cameras have become today, you just need to trust the technology to assist you in taking a better photo.


  1. Practice, practice, and practice. Get out and shoot as much as you can. Don’t wait for photos to come to you, go out into places such as the Perth city, small streets that have scenery or even down towards to coast, just hunt for somewhere that has a point of interest for you.


  1. Equipment isn’t everything. Van Tuil said that it is irritating when people say to her “ohhh, that’s a great picture, you must have a great camera”. She views photography as a trade, and the camera is being the tool. In the end, it all comes down to you, the photographer.


  1. Use photography as a means of expressing yourself. Ballantine believes that “A good picture is one that reflects the personality and subjectivity of the photographer”. By photographing something that is related or appealing to you, it will also make it a more enjoyable experience for you and will make you become more involved within your work as you’re creating something that is connected to you on a personal level.


  1. The last tip and potentially the corniest from this list, is just have fun with photography. Having fun in the creative field is what inspires you and allows you to do more.


Hopefully, some of these tips help you in your endeavour to become a better photographer. The photos placed throughout this article are from Ballantine and Van Tuil as well as myself.