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Taking a photo is easy—it’s making it stand out that’s hard. The thousands of photos that you seen in your Camera Roll, your Facebok timeline, and your photo management software tend to blend together unless there’s something unique about them, and that’s what practiced photographers have an eye for. Every great photo has something special about it, and that’s what makes you stop and take notice.
Most of that skill comes from practicing a lot, but knowing how you can change up your photographic style plays a big role, too. Here are five things you can try to change up your photos and make them more eye-catching.
Change the Angle
This is an easy one to do , because you just need to do some walking (or maybe some crouching). Whatever you’re photographing, most people see it straight-on from eye-level. Changing up the angle that you take your photograph from can reveal new sides, both literally and figuratively, of your object.
Trying getting up really close and crouching under your subject, or even lay on the ground and take a shot aiming straight upward. Or take the opposite tack, and find a way to get above your subject to look down on it. It doesn’t have to be the vertical angle that you change, either—it could be horizontal. For example, if you’re photographing a building that most people will have seen from a specific street, you can take it from a side street.
In some cases, taking a new angle on your subject will make it almost unrecognizable, and your viewer will have to take a moment to figure out exactly what they’re looking at—and if they take an extra moment to look at it, you know you’ve taken a unique photo!
Try a Different Composition
In general, there are rules of composition that people tend to follow: fill the frame with your subject, follow the rule of thirds, keep the golden ratio in mind, and so on. But sometimes you should break those rules in the interest of creating an eye-catching photograph. Filling just one part of the frame with your subject, or walking further away so that your picture contains a lot more background (as in the photo above), can completely change the feel of the photo.
Group photos are so often done in straight lines, but creating angles in the composition can add a really unique look to your shots (some photographers recommend going for triangles when photographing even numbers of people for this reason). Flat, straight lines can be interesting too, but if you can get away them from, you should give it a try and see what happens.
And as you can see above, sometimes adding something completely different to your composition can work wonders. Even if it partially obscures your subject, the presence of another object can make for a photo that comes together in a completely different way. If you would have described the above image to me, I would have thought that it wouldn’t work very well as a photo, becuase it breaks a number of composition guidelines. But I love it.
Play with Shadows
When you first start taking photos, it’s helpful to take a lot of your pictures in broad daylight, so you can see how other factors change your resulting photographs. It’s easier to see your subjects, and you don’t have to worry about part of the image being obscured by shadows. But you can use shadows to add a unique style to your photos with some practice.
Beyond simply adding depth, which shadows are great for, you can obscure certain parts of your photo to bring the viewer’s attention to other parts of the frame. In the image above, a sense of mystery is added to a simple picture of a man waiting at a bus stop. Sometimes the shadows can even become the focus of the entire photograph:
Shadows become especially interesting in black and white, so try out some different color options when you have good shadows in your photos!
Most of the time, we try to avoid blur in our photographs, as it’s evidence of an unstable camera during the shot. But sometimes, blur can be used to your advantage to add a feeling of motion or instability to the photo. The cyclist above, instead of being frozen in place, definitely has an element of movement that’s difficult to capture without motion blur.
Zoom blur, as seen above, is another fun way to add a unique flair to your photo. During a long exposure, adjust the level of zoom on your zoom lens to get this effect. It takes a lot of practice to get it down, but the results can be really cool.
One of my personal favorite techniques, using a shallow depth of field can also make your photos interesting using the same principles. Shallow focus is achieved with a large aperture, and will help draw your viewer’s eye to your subject wihout sacrificing bold colors in the background.
Choose Focal Colors
It can be tempting to try to include a lot of different colors in your photo in an attempt to capture the feeling of being in a scene, but this can often lead to photos that are just too busy. Instead, try focusing on one or two focal colors that really stand out in the photo.
If you want to get creative with editing, you can make everything in your photo black and white except for your focal colors, giving you a photo like this:
Using this strategy lets you focus on a single color even if the setting in which you took the photo isn’t amenable to the kind of photo you’re trying to take.
Or, if you want to go in the opposite direction, you can get a number of different objects of the same color into the frame to create an overwhelming sense of color, as in the photo above. You can do pretty much whatever you want with color—the point is to be cognizant of how you’re using it when you take the photo.
Your Unique Tips
These are five different things that you can play around with to help add a sense of uniqueness and “pop” to your photos. What other things do you find makes for memorable, stand-out photos? Share your best photography tips below so we can all give them a try!
Image credits: wayfarer life via Shutterstock.com, antoniodiaz via Shutterstock.com, Syed Abdul Khaliq via flickr, Lutz Koch via flickr, Jayel Aheram via flickr, Kyle Post via flickr, Neil Moralee via flickr, tiz via flickr, jankie via flickr, blurAZ via Shutterstock.com, PrinceOfLove via Shutterstock.com, Joe Penniston via flickr, Dima Sobko via Shutterstock.com, Plbmak via flickr, Alfonso via flickr.