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How to Take Pictures for Online Use

These days smartphones have made quality picture taking easy and convenient.  A few snaps on your phone and a couple of video recordings later, you will have all the multimedia content you need. Although the technology may change the basic principles remain.

When taking photographs intended for display on the web, many of the standard photography maxims hold true:

  • Learn how to use your camera effectively.
  • Take active, even action, shots.
  • Get up close and personal.
  • Be aware of the edges of your frame – don't cut off feet or tops of heads.
  • Your subjects will want to pose for you. Take a few posed pictures, then take some candid shots.
  • Pay attention to backgrounds. Walls are pretty boring; cluttered backgrounds distract.
  • Make sure trees, lamp poles and other objects aren't "growing" out of your subjects' heads.
  • Keep the sun behind you.
  • Use a tripod for shots with long exposures.
  • Take shots from different angles and locations.
  • Use natural light, instead of a flash or indoor lighting, whenever possible.
  • Apply the "rule of thirds": Divide your shot with two evenly spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and then place objects and your subjects on the lines and at their intersections. This takes practice, but can become second nature.
  • Use naturally occurring lines (such as roads or building edges) to create order and perspective in your photographs.
  • Take lots of pictures. With digital cameras, unwanted photos can easily be deleted.

For photos to appear online, they must be compressed to make them small enough in actual size and file size so that they can download quickly. This causes photos to lose detail and sharpness. Images that contain many different colors and lots of small detail suffer most when compressed. Knowing that, some of the photography rules change a bit.

  • Plain backgrounds, especially behind faces, help an image reduce well without becoming confusing.
  • Close-ups, always important, are especially so for the web since the display size of an image is typically quite small.
  • Shots taken at a distance in which small details are important don't work unless those details are offset against a clear background. Consider a shot of a baseball player waiting to catch an airborne ball. The ball might show up against a contrasting color, such as the sky, but it would be invisible against a crowd of spectators.
  • Remember that you can include many more images with an online story than you could in print or during a newscast. Take lots of pictures!

> READ NEXT ARTICLE: Getting Familiar with Web Graphics