How to Take a Kick-Ass Photo

I get submissions from photographers every day. Some good. Some great. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what makes a photo grab my attention. There are certain things you should keep in mind when taking and editing photos. Here are some basics to help you out.

Banner photo by NS member: Jessica Klingelfuss

Disclaimer: There are plenty of wonderful photos that ignore all of this. I get that. Thanks.

Know Your Subject

The photo should be of something. That’s why when you look at sites like most of the favorites are of PEOPLE. People make good subjects. Think of your photo as a snapshot from a story. Stories have characters, right? Audiences like characters. You want your fans’ eyes to be drawn to something on the page. Otherwise they will quickly move onto something else.

Know Your Subject

Photo by NS member: Martin Stranka

Use Contrast

I adore contrast. One of the first things I do when I am editing photos is go right to Curves & Contrast. However, be careful not to go crazy with contrast. Too much contrast becomes obnoxious, while too little looks washed out. Contrast can completely change the feel of your photo.


Photo source.

Love Lighting

Lighting often goes hand and hand with contrast. Always pay attention to lighting when taking a shot. Look for interesting shadows. Natural light is always best, and can create a realistic contrast that Photoshop can’t replicate.

Love Lighting

Photo source.

Focus on Focus

I love when photographers play with focus. There is no reason why every part of your composition needs to be in focus. In fact, when parts of the picture are out of focus, it gives the composition more dimension.


Photo source.

Mmmm… Saturation

Color can make or break a picture. I have spent hours playing around with the saturation of a photograph in order to get it right. The best piece of advice I can give you is to keep the saturation consistent with the feel of the photo. Think about the emotion you want to convey and let the saturation help convey it.

Holy Saturation, Batman!

Photo by NS member: Emily Tebbetts

Find Variety in Framing

Your subject doesn’t have to be completely in frame. Play around with the cropping until you find something that speaks to you. Leave something to the imagination. Creative framing is artsy and gives photos personality!


Photo source.

What’s Your Angle?

Stand on a chair! Get on the ground for Christ sake! Do something different! Camera angles transform mediocre photos into great photos.


Photo by NS member: Nirrimi Hakanson

Creativity is Key

Pretty pictures are great, but creative pictures are OUTSTANDING. Let your creativity go wild. Show your personality through your art. Play around with new concepts. How are you new? How are you exciting? How are you better…scratch that… how are you different than your competition?

Creativity is Key

Photo by NS member: Gordon McBryde

Please think about these things next time you take a picture. Then think about them again when you edit them. Then think about them AGAIN when you look at other people’s work. Practice, learn, and become a kick-ass photographer. You can totally do it.

Thanks to our sources. Your photos are awesome.