Picture-Taking Tips

When I first started taking pictures it was with a film camera and my dad explained that the person I was focusing on should be in the middle of the picture. From that point on that is what I did. My pictures always had the person centered, and lots of open skies or whatever was there taking up the upper half of the picture. 

When video cameras became available I had one that you needed two hands to hold. I used the same approach. The frames in a video at the time were the same as photographs, square. I know I am dating myself but my experience spans over a half a century. TV and movies were square as well.

A church I was attending was looking for people to work cameras and arranged for those interested to attend a training session with the local cable television company. One of my sons and I attended and it was an eye-opener for us both.

We learned that you do not place that person you are focusing on in the center. You place them at the top with a small margin above them. And you zoom in so you do not have unnecessary stuff at the bottom of the frame. The cameras and video equipment at this time were widescreens, no longer square. They both shot horizontal and fit nicely on the new widescreen television screen. 

Cell phone cameras were taking square pictures and computer screens on laptops and desktops were still square. 

Then we entered a new era with widescreen televisions and computer screens, fifteen-inch widescreen laptops, and cell phones that took widescreen pictures and video. Drop off those pictures to be printed at the local store and they came back 4×6 with the 6 being left to right– horizontal.

We hold our cell phone vertical for most of its functions. That is the normal way to hold it for a phone call, to scroll through our email, and to look at Facebook. It should not be for taking a picture or a video.

Facebook Live is a great way to let the world see your world but if you video it vertically, it only shows in the middle of your screen with empty space on the left and right. And you have ceilings and floors top and bottom. Go horizontal and the entire screen is filled. Zoom in and you remove excess ceilings and floors.

Even the individual pictures you take should not be vertically oriented. Rotate your phone and take the picture. Zoom in on the subject of the shot. Now when you post them on Facebook or Instagram or even send them in an email or text message, they can be viewed full screen.


Here is an example of taking a vertical picture. Notice all the unnecessary grass in the foreground. I could have raised the camera and instead gotten lots of unnecessary sky.


This is the same scene taken horizontally. It is a better balance of sky and grass with the vehicle in the middle. Had this been a person I would have had them toward the top unless it was important to the picture to show the sky above them.

Here is how they look cast to the television screen.


Notice all the black space on each side. Had this been a video it would be the same.


My horizontal picture fills the screen.

I am not a photography expert. My only training is experience. I hope this has given you some ideas and helped to make your picture-taking improved.


4 thoughts on “Picture-Taking Tips”

  1. Barbara Durham

    Dick, great topics that we are grateful that you Share with us! What program do you use to draw the arrow on your house picture?

    1. Richard Evans

      I am using Snagit but there are others that are free such as Skitch and Greenshot

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