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People have always told me I have an eye for the unseen. Photography has played an important role in my life and I can’t imagine it any other way. The camera has introduced me to another world. One where reality pauses and moments are captured. My vision for beauty has led me in many directions.

I do agree people are born with certain talents, however, skills are learned throughout life. If you love something enough, you can gain certain elements that will help you achieve success. If you don’t have it, you just don’t have it, but you should always try!

Being able to take great photographs is really not that hard. All you need is a unique vision, a camera and a little guidance. Here are some key elements when taking photos. They are simple but very important. If you have confidence and follow these tips, you will be taking brilliant shots in no time.

Observe
The main thing about photography is knowing your environment. Observing what’s around you is a great way to do this. Don’t just look, observe. Take it all in and ask questions. How does it make you feel? What does it make you think about? These answers will guide you to look deeper.

When you can truly see the soul of something, your photo will mirror that to the world. The research that’s done to understand your subject can really make all the difference. Capturing a certain emotion or look can be mesmerizing. Stealing the moment when the breeze sails through the trees just at the right time will forever take you back. This is the magic of photography.

Photography 101: Basic Elements - Copyright 2012 Melissa O'Connor
{A night at Fuerzabruta, filled with energy, excitement and creativity, all captured in this mystical shot of the girls in the water}

Photography 101: Basic Elements - Copyright 2012 Melissa O'Connor
{Practicing before a show, a performer gets into character. The mirror image allows the viewer to see what she sees. A reflection of one’s soul}

Photography 101: Basic Elements - Copyright 2012 Melissa O'Connor
{A calm moment in a goats life. Inviting me in just
for a minute
}

Composition
Seeing the world in sections will help you choose a successful composition. Add frames to your subjects to contain certain elements. Looking through a lens is a great way to train your eye to do this. Soon you will be seeing everything as a snapshot and it will be much easier.

Photography 101: Basic Elements - Copyright 2012 Melissa O'Connor
{The bushes on the left and right frame the photo and guide
the viewer to the main subject, a historic home surrounded by
vibrant greens and a light blue sky}

Photography 101: Basic Elements - Copyright 2012 Melissa O'Connor
{A reflection through a city window makes an interesting composition and leaves some room for imagination}

Photography 101: Basic Elements - Copyright 2012 Melissa O'Connor
{The viewpoint sets the tone here. An old building tucked away, just shown enough to gain interest}

Also, when deciding on a final shot, experiment a little. Play with angles and viewpoints. Try to see the subject in different ways. Variety can’t hurt so take a few shots to see which one is the most interesting.

Photography 101: Basic Elements - Copyright 2012 Melissa O'Connor
{A gleam of calm. The diagonal composition leads the eye from
left to right, guiding the viewer to see the subject’s expression
}

Definition & Meaning
As you study your subject, explain to yourself why it attracts you. Does it make you happy or maybe a little sentimental? Is it visually stunning? Your style and taste come into play here. Some people love vibrant colors and others find pleasure in black and white or more subdued hues. If you enjoy taking portraits, then what is it about people or animals that pulls you in?

Figuring out what the subject means to you is important. What is the message you are trying to share? What emotion are you hoping to evoke? What part of you are letting people see? Define your vision so your work is clear and conveys a sense of life. Just pointing and shooting will result in empty images most of the time. You want others to take something away from it.

Photography 101: Basic Elements - Copyright 2012 Melissa O'Connor
{Raw energy and passion, shown by a musician who
lets it all go on stage}

Photography 101: Basic Elements - Copyright 2012 Melissa O'Connor
{A hot summer’s day in New York City. The light hitting the
building sheds some life on the bricks, giving them a soft look.
Shadows add visual interest and the claylike color scheme gives
the photo a painterly feel}

Photography 101: Basic Elements - Copyright 2012 Melissa O'Connor
{One click and pure happiness is captured. Oh, the life of a dog!}

Tell a Story
Sometimes it’s good to tell a story with your photo so others can imagine how you felt while taking it. It’s also nice to allow some room for viewers to use their imagination. Think of it like your setting the stage for wonderful things to happen. Creating a space where a unique world can exist is what art is all about.

Photography 101: Basic Elements - Copyright 2012 Melissa O'Connor
{A moment of pure bliss on a woman’s wedding day. I
can imagine there is nothing like it
}

Photography 101: Basic Elements - Copyright 2012 Melissa O'Connor
{Young girls snicker with delight while a boy listens.
Happy days!}

Think of these tips the next time you’re at a party, on vacation or even at home with your family. Capture those brief moments and share them with the world. Showing others your perspective on life is a gift and we should all take advantage of it when we can.