In this article, you can read 25 practical tips to make your images more interesting or better. This are not so theoretical tips about composition, it is more a practical guide to help you to find thinks that work and you do not have to think about it a lot. There are four categories basics, things the human eye cannot see, things you not used to see and things that pleases the eye. If you are interested in more complex composing tips check out the block method composition tutorial or IP Plus.
1 Avoid technical mistakes
The first thing is to avoid technical mistakes. This means you images need to be sharp and not blurry. You should avoid things like lens flare or blown out colours. Another a bit less important point is to avoid too much grain. Be also sure everything of the motive is in the photo. Sometimes this can be nice effects but most of the times this are things that are creative, but most of the time this are mistakes that do not make your image better. If you are a bit unsure about technical mistakes put your images on a stock platform. I personally recommend Shutter Stock.
2 Do not over challenge the eye
If there is too much going on in a picture, the eye is over challenged. This can be if there are too many things in a picture that are attraction your attention or there are too many colours in the image. Try to reduce and you will get stronger images.
3 Black and White
You can reduce the picture very easy by turning it into black and white. This will help not in every case but you if there are not too many colours the viewer can focus better on the things that are going on in the image. A black and white processing will also show patterns better.
4 Reduce Colours
If you do not like black and white you can also reduce the colours by photographing things at a different time. If you are photographing at midday all things have strong colours. If you are photographing during the sunrise or sunset everything is in the same red light. You have the same effect during the golden or blue hour. Everything is in a golden/yellow or blue light and the colours are you can reduce the contrasts.
Things the human eye cannot see
Everything that is unusual to see for the human eyes attracts our interest. You can use this as a photographer to make your images more interesting.
5 Motion Blur
We see everting that is moving sharp. In your normal scenery, a moving car is sharp as the building right behind it. The rock in a river is sharp as the river itself. A flash light will be recognized as a dot and not as a trail. If you can show the motion in your picture with motion blur you can get great results. This can be used when you are photographing moving objects (keep the object sharp and blur the background), when you make a long-time exposure at a river or when you are making star trails. All of these things cannot be seen by a human eye and makes your images more interesting.
6 Aperture stars
Sun stars a nice possibility to attract attention to your image. A human eye sees every small light source as a point. A sun star cannot be seen by a human and will be an eye catcher in your photo. Especially on bright sunny days, when it is hard to find something interesting, this could be a possibility to make a great image. Stars can also be made on other light sources for example on street lights.
7 Compress the picture
Generally, you can say that a human sees the world as through a lens between 30 and 50mm. Most of the smartphones in the marked have a camera with a focal length about 30mm. This also effects how most people see the world. Everything that is photographed with a longer lens compresses the image and will make your image more interesting, because our eyes are not use to see the world like this. If you use a long lens you can get great and interesting results. This can be used for example on roads or you can make the moon really big in your picture.
8 Strong editing and contrasts
You can also make more interesting pictures by a strong editing. There are some trends, like a dark editing style which is really popular on 500px or Instagram. A famous photographer with a strong editing is Max Rive. You can like this or not but his pictures definitely get attention. You do not have to do such a strong editing to show something that the human eye cannot see. The human eye compensates the brightness in the environment really fast so an image with strong contrasts is something the human eye cannot see. Another editing styles that is popular and makes something that a human eye cannot see is the desaturated look that is popular on Instagram. There are good post processing tutorials on IP Plus.
Things you Not used to see
You do not have to do things that the human eye cannot see, you can also do something that a non photographer is not used to see. This can be a different perspective or a different lens.
9 Play with focus
Just because you can does not mean you have to keep everything in focus. Sometimes it makes a picture more interesting to leave a part out of focus. Our eyes have a really fast focus so we are used to see everything sharp. The best example for this are portraits where you focus just on the person and leave everything else out of focus. This can also work with other things like landscapes. You can blur the fore and background depending on the object that you photograph.
10 Focus on details
Most people do not look at details and do not notice details. If you look at a landscape you will see most time the landscape as a whole scenery and not the beautiful road in the middle of the landscape. The same thing is with other things. Everyone knows how an eye looks but a close up where you can see every detail of an eye will amaze you because you are not used to see it with a lot of details. As a photographer, you can focus on these details to make more interesting pictures.
11 Use a wide angle lens
We humans are used to see everything in a more or less wide angle perspective. You can overdo this effect by using a really wide angle lens (20mm or less). This is also an effect most people are not used to see. It is nothing that the eye cannot see but our eyes are not used to see it. This can work also on different types of photography for example landscape or portraits.
12 Go Up
Normally you can see the world from a point about 1.7 meters about the ground. Some see the world from a bit higher some from a bit lower. You can use this knowledge to make your pictures more interesting by showing things from a different perspective. If you are bored of photographing your hometown go on a tower or climb a mountain you will see everything from a different perspective. This is the reason why drone pictures are so amazing and you can make a normal house look interesting. Everyone know how his house looks like and can see a view from above on Google Maps but we are not used to see it in this way.
13 Go Down
If you cannot go up just go down. If you place your camera near the ground you will get a more interesting perspective. If your audience is not lying on the ground in every possible situation this is also an unusual perspective and can help to make a boring motive more interesting and get more attention.
14 Go closer
„If your photographs aren't good enough, you're not close enough.” This quote from Robert Capa is old but it is true. A lot of bad photos can be improved by going closer to the object. You can also use a longer lens to zoom a bit in. A good example are animals. Most people see animals only from far away even in the zoo. If you have a longer lens you can show some details that most people do not see. This is also the thing that makes macro photography interesting. You may know how a flower look like but you are not used to see every detail of it.
15 Hold something in the foreground
If you cannot find an interesting foreground you can make your own foreground by holding something in front of your lens. Popular things are leafs, especially colourful leafs in autumn or a leaf of a fern. This is not only for landscapes. You can let hold someone in a portrait something in the front of the lens.
Things that pleases the eye
There are some things that pleases the eye. For example, humans like to look at other humans, at symmetric things or at patterns. If you keep this in mind you can improve your photography.
16 Find symmetry
The human eye loves to look at symmetric things. The more symmetric a face is, the more beautiful it is in our eyes. You can fake it by mirroring things in photo shop but you can also search this when you are photographing. A good are representative buildings like palaces or parliament buildings. Often, they are constructed symmetrical. But you can also find symmetries in the nature.
17 Use reflections
This is a trick I love to do and maybe I am doing it too often. This will make your picture symmetric or at least partially. Reflections can be found nearly everywhere where calm water is. Good for pictures with reflections are lakes or rives. If there are puddles somewhere you can also make great photos no matter if you are somewhere outdoor or in the city. Just hold the camera down and you can get great results. If the water is not calm you can make a long exposure to get a better reflection.
18 Frame it
Another simple trick to pimp your images is to search a frame. This can be a plant or something human build like a window, an arch or a bridge. If you do not want to get too much attraction to the frame blur it out or make it darker in post processing. This is also a good possibility to cut out some things like some ugly buildings or people out of your composition.
Humans also like to look at patterns. They do not have to be symmetric, as long you have a repetition of things you are fine. Patterns can be found everywhere, in nature or at human build things. You can make pictures only with patterns or integrate them somewhere in your picture. Searching patterns is also good if you have a drone.
This tip contains also a bit the last tip to search patterns. If you can look for simple composition. This could be a coast line, the shape of a mountain or a road somewhere in a forest. This is good for drone photography. From up above you can make simple composition with a road or a coastline. Reducing can also mean not too many different colours.
21 Integrate People
Humans love to see their own species. This is good for you. You can place a human in your picture to attract more attention. This works nearly in every situation. You can place someone in a landscape or in a picture of a city.
22 Eye hight
Another thing that humans like to look at are eyes. It does not matter if it is a human, an animal or an artificial eye. More important is, that you photograph the motive on eye height that you have the feeling that you look directly in the eyes of the motive. If you photographing a smaller animal or are child go down that you are on the eye height. This is also a think, that we are not you use to see. You see a dog or a child most time from up above.
23 Guide the eye
One of the most heard composing tips is to search leading lines. I often make the most obvious thing and look for paths or roads. Finding leading liens that guides the eye are often hard for me to find, so I make it easy and take a path or a road.
24 Colour Theory
The last thing I want to mention is colour theory. I have a hard time to plan photos that fits to the colour theory. If it happens it is most time luck. If you are interested you can look at the article from Nathan on Improve Photography.
25 Your turn
Did I missed something our do you have you own practical tip? Leave a comment.