Professional photographers know that less is more (Secrets of Professional Photographers #2), and a photograph with too much going on is a sure sign of an amateur. In a cluttered photo, the eye bounces around from subject-to-subject, and leaves the viewer unsatisfied.
|Times Square has a lot going on, and it can be hard to choose what to shoot...|
|...so focus on small details for a better image.|
Instead of trying to take in everything, take in only one thing - and do it well. You can take more than one photo of a location, so take your time and get each one right.
Always shooting from eye level
Interesting photographs often come from interesting angles. If you're taking a photo of a boring scene, changing the point of view can make it much more interesting.
|A bucolic scene, but not very interesting.|
|Getting down low leads to a much more interesting picture.|
Get down on your hands and knees, climb a ladder, or seek a higher natural vantage point. Whatever you do, consider what your subject would look like from another angle.
No Sense of Scale
Photography is two-dimensional and can often lack context - so it's up to you to give it some. A photo of an impressive building or mountain doesn't look nearly as impressive unless the person viewing the photo understands just how big it is.
|I can almost make out that this is Easter Island.|
|Putting a person in the picture helps the viewer to infer scale.|
You can add context by demonstrating a sense a scale. Putting a person in the photo, or a common object like a bicycle, helps the viewer to understand what they're seeing.
No Clear Subject
Before you take a photo, you need to quickly decide what is important in the image and make sure you're framing it in the best light.
|This photo has no distinct subject.|
|There's no doubt about the subject of this photo.|
If your subject is only a small part of the image, or if your photo doesn't seem to have any subject at all, don't take the photo. Wait a few seconds, give it some thought, and try again.
There are some basic rules of photographic composition that you should follow (unless you have a good reason not to). I've written before about the Rule of Thirds, the Golden Spiral, and the Golden Triangle, and those rules of composition are good ones to follow.
|Subject centered and looking away? Not good.|
|Off-center, looking at you, and from an interesting angle? Brilliant.|
Additionally, if your subject is a living thing, try and capture it looking at the camera with a glint of light in it's eyes, or capture it interacting with something else so that your photo has a sense of movement.