8 tips for great photos

I recently lost my phone to an unfortunate run-in with brake fluid in my car. I spent some quiet time off social media with a basic phone while I waited for my new one. While waiting for my new replacement I came across the HTC One M8. A phone with a camera is everything to me as sometimes I don’t want to lug around all of my lenses and 5D mk ii so, on the rare occasion, I opt for a cell phone (I usually hi-jack my sisters or boyfriends as their phones have much better cameras than mine had!).

I went away to Arniston this past weekend and decided that I would take a brave leap and leave my camera behind (GASP!). Yes, I left my camera and therefore my work at home and nervously left for my weekend away with just the HTC in hand hoping that it would be able to capture my weekend just as well as my camera! Now, everyone knows that a 5D mk ii would ultimately be the best thing to shoot on compared to a cell phone, but when you are attached to your camera and work like I am, it is very necessary to leave it all and trust in other forms of photography that do not make you feel as though you are still working, even while sitting on the beach!


I have had many emails requesting a few tips on how to take better photos so I thought I would use an interesting new place to give you a few tips on basic photography – PART 1 of a series of photography related posts! Using the features of the HTC One M8, I have decided to supply you with 8 tips:

1. Subject

What are you photographing, what is your main focus? It is important to have an interesting subject! Your subject can be anything from a dramatic landscape to rocks on the sand. What are you wanting people to look at first and what story are you trying to tell?

I used the 5 mega pixel front camera of the HTC One M8 to capture a higher quality landscape and opted for a black and white, dramatic feel.

2 1

To make your subject more interesting, you can use the following to your advantage:

2. Lighting : Sun, shade & time of day.

Light is the most important thing when shooting. Light gives your photos a certain feel and can determine the mood of your subject. A dull, gloomy photo will give the viewer a different opinion to a bright, well lit photo of the same subject. This brings us to the subject of time of day… Morning and afternoon are the best times to shoot. They give you softer, long shadows (again, this depends on what you want to portray in your photo.) The HTC One M8 allows you to touch parts of the screen for different exposure. For example, for my pebble photo above I made sure that the pebbles were exposed correctly whereas for the dramatic clouds photo I touched the clouds on-screen so that the exposure was focused on the clouds.

The below photos were taken 1. in the morning. 2. midday. 3. evening

Look at the different emotion one gets from the different lighting…

4 35

My favourite time of the day is evening as it brings along other elements that the full sun of the day may not supply – in this case a beautiful soft reflection added something special to this rather average landscape image.

3. Composition

This is the placement or arrangement of the elements in your photo and quite often determines an eye-catching photo from an average photo. I am going to do a post on composition alone as there are so many ways to capture a well composed photo. One of the most common rules of composition that I use is balance. This can be done by placing your main subject off-centre, creating a more interesting photo. I then balance the “weight” of my subject by including another object of lesser importance to fill the space.


4. Angle & focus – try different angles. Experiment with different angles and focus to capture an image that you may not have gotten by using your initial approach.


IMAG0187  IMAG0331

5. Textures

Capturing the different textures of a subject may be the defining element that makes a photo interesting. Look out for details in your subject, they may be more interesting than the subject as a whole. Create a feel for different textures and this will make your image more interesting. This can even be done in fashion by taking a close up of the fabric of your outfit rather than the garment as a whole.

7 8 9 11

I captured textures using the HTC’s macro effect as well as the camera. I searched for large parts of the landscape that has a mix of rough and smooth textures as well as looked closely at the elements in the landscape and photographed macro details such as the texture of the whale bone and barnacles above.

This great depth of field feature is due to the phone’s secondary camera positioned above the main camera. The duo camera detects depth of field and supplies you with stunning images with sharp focus and blur in all the right places.

6. Shapes

I often look for shapes and patterns in nature. You will find, when you take a little time to look at the details that surround you, they become a series of shapes and patterns that simply must be captured. This past weekend I was able to capture weathered rock and flowing rock pool water that had the most interesting patterns in them.

12 13 14

7. Colour or black and white

I find myself arguing over this idea very often. Sometimes you will know that the image is meant to be in black and white and other times you simply cannot decide. The deciding factor will be what you want your viewers to see when they look at the image. Do they see texture first? Do they see colours? Do they see something happy or gloomy? There will be a number of reasons to help you decide between colour and black and white and when all else fails, turn to social media and ask your friends!

15 16

8. Creativity

I had the help of the amazing camera features of the HTC One M8 but, when trying to capture an average image, get creative!

Use what you have at hand to take the best images using the features and elements you are surrounded by!

I found some shocking subjects that were washed up on the shoreline and when I grouped them/collaged them they were an interesting story to view. I also found, by centering them and creating a balance the composition was appealing and finally, I changed it to black and white for a dramatic effect.


I used the HTC’s filters and editing effects to add a pop of colour and contrast to my images too. Look at the difference! Sometimes all you need to do is exaggerate the colour for an image to be interesting.


I used the split screen feature to capture what was in front of AND behind the camera. I love this feature of the HTC One M8 camera and I think it will be a hit for the self-tographers who would like to capture their expressions for what lies in front of them. LOVE love love.


Look for reflections and capture them. This is one of my favourite things to do!


And finally, I used the 360 degree panoramic feature to capture my surroundings:

19 20

I hope that these 8 tips have inspired you to go out and capture some fun, creative images. Be sure to share them with me, I would love to see what you have done! If you have any questions or would like me to cover any other subjects be sure to email me and let me know!


twitter: @tegzphotography

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TeganSmithPhotography

instagram: tegansmithphotography

pinterest: TeganSmithPhotography

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Inga says:

    This is incredible! You are so talented. LOVE!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s