Make Your Photos Star-Worthy with These Simple Tweaks

We’ve already had some great submissions for the Global Discovery Vacations Shoot for the Stars contest, but we’ve still got a long way to go. The best part about this contest is that you don’t have to be a pro to capture stunning photos.

Your pictures can stand out without having advanced photography skills or being proficient in Photoshop. All you need is a couple minor adjustment, so we thought we’d share a few tips you can do before and after you click “shoot.”

The Rule of Thirds

It’s standard procedure to center the subject through our lenses and shoot a straight-on photo. But if you put the subject off-center, you can see how they are interacting with their immediate environment.

rule of thirds

Divide the picture into thirds vertically and horizontally in your head when setting up a shot. For the best results, try to get your subject at one of the intersecting points.

This awesome photo by Elizabeth A. does a great job of showing us both the cause and the effect of this white-water rafting ride: rushing waters on the left and a family bracing for impact on the right.

If the family was centered, it wouldn’t have the same effect. It’s almost as if the story is incomplete:

GD98229 - Mt hood- oregon, white salmon river white water rafting, great family vacation at whispering woods condos

This trick is also great for adding more intrigue to photos of stationary objects or animals.

All About Perspective

If you can immerse the viewer in the photo’s details and make them forget about the picture-taker, you’ve done your job as a photographer. Instead of shooting a landscape, sign or event where any bystander can access, try to get up close and personal for a unique view.

Riding a bike? Try shooting from the handlebars’ perspective. Standing under a giant cactus? Aim from the base to show its looming presence. You can also play with your surroundings to make small items larger than they appear, or vice-versa.

GD103410 - Scottsdale AZ SKY OF SEA CACTUS SO HIGH just loved the views here

Member Art L. portrays how truly giant this Arizona cactus is by aiming for the sky.

Cropping

It’s amazing how a simple crop can change the dynamic of an entire photo. Maybe something in the background makes it look too busy or the balcony railing at the edge of the frame is taking away from a magnificent sunset. Cropping can turn mundane moments into magic.

Here’s a photo I took of the Rocky Mountains:

20140702_134120

The focus of the photo is the mountains in the distance and the people walking in the foreground take away from the natural wonder of it all. So here’s a cropped look that makes the mountains the sole focus, without distraction:

20140702_134120

Instant cover photo.

There is such a thing as over-cropping, however. Just use your best judgment to keep the main subject of your picture intact while removing anything that won’t disrupt the balance.

But most of all, remember that these photos are all about the experience of travel. As long as you capture that, we’d love to see it in our Shoot for the Stars contest. You have until May 5, 2015, to enter, so hopefully these tips will inspire you to take some great photos. We’ll have more photo tidbits to come.

Do you have any photo advice for other members? Let us know I know comments below.

Corey is a writer from Overland Park, KS, and has been with Global Discovery Vacations since September 2013. Once a sportswriter, he traveled the country and became proficient in airport security line etiquette and leaving items in hotel rooms.

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