How to take the perfect photo

Getting expert shots is easier than you think.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes


After reading this article, you will know:

  • The equipment you’ll need
  • Best time of day to take photos
  • How to compose your photos
  • How to work with people when taking portraits

You don’t have to be a professional photographer in order to take a decent photo. Nowadays, you don’t even need a fancy camera in order to snap a high-quality shot, all you need is your smartphone. Regardless of what type of equipment you’re working with, everyone can learn how to take the perfect photo using these pro-tips.

Plan the perfect time to shoot.

Shoot outdoors if possible because natural light is easier to work with than artificial lighting equipment. Try to shoot your photos during golden hour, which is an hour after sunrise, and an hour before sunset. You’ll find that by taking photos at these times the shadows are longer due to the lower angle of the light. The warmer tones created by this low light make dawn or dusk popular times of day to shoot portraits, as the soft light is more flattering and won’t make people squint their eyes. If you can only shoot during harsh sunlight hours, look for shaded areas.

Of course, it’s not always possible to shoot outside. If you are capturing photos indoors, never shoot in front of a window, or have the light source behind the subject. Another indoor lighting trick is to have the light source come from the side of the subject, this can add some drama to your photo.

Think about composition.

Composition refers to the placement of subjects in a photo, so you’ll want to have an idea of how you’re planning to use the photo before you set up your shot. It’s a good idea to visualise the final design when planning your shoot. Pick a couple of your favourite card designs beforehand and you can compose your shots accordingly.

Remember to always keep the rule of thirds in mind — mentally divide your photo in three and place your subject on one of the dividing lines. For example, if the selected card has text on the right, you can place your subject on the left side of the frame to ensure there’s plenty of space to add your message later. Also, if you plan to overlay your photo with text, make sure your background is either dark or light, with very little contrast. This will make the text stand out against your image.

Shoot with your final design in mind. Vistaprint offers a wide variety of design templates including some that feature square images so you can edit your design in Instagram or other popular image apps.

If you are going to shoot with the idea of text going over the photo, make sure your background is either dark or light, with very little contrast, so you can read the text clearly overlaying the image.

Don’t stress about a smile.

Trying to crack a smile under pressure can be a challenge, especially when the subject is shy. Relax your subjects to avoid awkward poses by telling a joke or acting silly. Never underestimate the candid moments either, as these can seem more natural. Serious shots with the subject looking at the camera can be powerful and are more appropriate for professional portraits for LinkedIn or website headshot photos.

Shoot like a pro on the go.

You don’t need an expensive SLR camera to start taking great pictures. Those who prefer snapping photos with their smartphones can still benefit from some expert tips.

  • Before you begin shooting, be sure to clean your lens. This will help to achieve a crystal-clear photo.
  • If you’re deciding between a colour or black and white photo, always shoot in colour first. You can always change to a different filter later.
  • Get close to your subject. The more you zoom from afar, the lower the quality. So, step right up and shoot.

Start with these easy tips and with a little practice you’ll be shooting photos like the pros in no time.