Snapshots v Photographs – It’s Not About The Camera!

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The difference between a "snapshot" and a "photograph" can be enormous, but most people believe they can't achieve any better, because they don't have a "fancy camera".

The truth is anyone can take a great looking photograph - regardless of their Kit. Check out the video and/or article below.

Myth - You Don't Need A Fancy Camera

The quality of any given photograph is far more about what YOU KNOW than the quality of your camera.

For Example: - the 2 pictures below were taken with very different cameras, but the photograph I'd call a snapshot (left) was taken on an expensive camera, and the picture I'd call a true photograph (right) was taken on a compact camera.

Picture Taken on a POSH DSLR CAMERA

Image taken on compact camera

What separates these 2 photographs is just 2 things - composition and the use of aperture. So with a tiny bit of thought and the know how to change one setting you can transform your shot.


In the first photograph (above left) we are looking down on the subject, and have a very cluttered background so that the viewer doesn't know what they are supposed to look at. The photograph of the poppy however is taken from the same height as the poppy - so that we have a more interesting view (we're in the poppy's world), and the background is uncluttered which focuses the eye on the poppy.

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Unlike the picture top left, the poppy picture is taken using a large aperture. The aperture is a setting (just one setting) on the camera which controls how much of the foreground and the background is in focus.

Not all compact camera's allow you to change your aperture settings - so make sure you look out for one which does, and your photography could be transformed. Pretty much any DSLR will allow you to change this setting.

The two pictures above of my cocker spaniel Bailey (Mr. B Ratbag) both use the aperture setting to blur the background slightly. The photograph above right also uses a fast shutter speed to freeze the action (in particular freezing Bailey's "go faster" ears in mid air).

Shutter Speed

Again shutter speed is just one camera setting. If you use a fast shutter speed it will freeze action like the picture above right. Using a slow shutter speed will blur motion which can be used to stunning effect.

Exposure Triangle

Aperture and Shutter speed form two corners of the "exposure triangle" (the other corner consisting of ISO - which controls the sensitivity of your camera's sensor). If you can understand how these 3 elements relate to each other you'll be able to take artistic control of your photos, and your photography could be transformed. It's simple, but SO important.

DSLR v Mobile/cell 'phone

Surprisingly for some - the mobile/cell 'phone won't always lose this battle. That's because good photography is as much, if not more, about the photographer as the equipment. Take the photographs of Mr. Ratbag below for example.

Photo taken on a posh DSLR

photo taken on mobile/cell 'phone

Here it's the mobile/cell shot that wins. That's because someone that knows what they are doing (that could be you!) can take a far better shot from a mobile/cell 'phone than someone who doesn't have great knowledge could get from a posh DSLR. It's composition that wins out for the mobile/cell 'phone shot here e.g. the shot is taken from Bailey's level. A handy starting point for composition is knowing the rule of thirds.

The Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds was used in taking the mobile/cell shot of Bailey Ratbag above. Essentially, you should consider a thirds grid over any photograph you are about to take (see below), and line up the elements of the picture as described below.

Rule of Thirds Grid

  • The most important elements of the image go on or near where the lines intersect (with both the bird and the mobile/cell shot of Bailey the head is on the intersection, the eye is near the intersection.
  • Use the horizontal and vertical lines. Notice how both Bailey and the bird are lined up on the left vertical.
  • Place horizons on one of the horizontals.

Has this article helped you? Let us know what you think in the comments section below. Or why not share this article with your friends so you can impress them with all your knowledge. Happy Picture Taking!

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