silhouette of man holding camera on tripod during sunset

Understanding the basics of photography is an excellent first step towards creating better pictures and photographs that you’re proud to post on social media or share with friends, family, and strangers. But, there is only so much that the basics can do for you. 

If you want to take the next step forward, even as an amateur photographer, you must know how to make your photos stand out. It’s not enough to take pictures of pretty scenery or spend all day trying to capture something funny. You need to know what techniques will make your pictures pop. 

Get Creative With The Lighting

Lighting can be the photographer’s greatest friend and most frustrating enemy, especially if you take plenty of pictures outside. No one wants to wait all day for the perfect snap, only for clouds to roll over the sun at the last moment, training all your hard work and taking you back to square one. However, as much as light can be unpredictable, you can take advantage of the times where you can rely on it. 

Photographers of all levels love to use backlight photography, both with professional cameras and their smartphones. This technique can add a different atmosphere to your photographs, and there are plenty of different ways to capture unique shots no matter where you are.

Make Weather Your Friend

Every photographer has planned to get to the highest local point and get some stunning panoramic shots, only for the heavens to open just as they step out the door. This can conjure several risks; you won’t get the visibility you want, or the rain might damage your equipment, which is never ideal. 

However, as frustrating as unexpected weather (good and bad) can be, it needn’t be the end of the world. Talented and creative photographers shouldn’t let a rainy day ruin everything, so find ways to make the weather your friend. Create mini-world scenes with puddles, or cultivate interesting scenes in unseasonable weather. 

Give Different Things a Purpose

One mistake amateur photographers make is treating everything as it is. When they see a lamp post or a bridge or a tree, that is all they think about. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with looking at things this way, especially when you’re just getting started, but you should take it further if you want your photographs to stand out. 

Creating a scene out of unusual items or even embracing mixed media photography can make your photographs much more interesting. Rather than take a photo of a sunset, fallen leaves and other items you find on the floor can create the perfect scene for the right shot.

Embrace Editing Tools

There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to the place of editing tools in photography. While almost all will use editing tools, some believe that over-editing is pointless, as it ruins the essence of photography. 

They have a point as if you’re going to edit something so the scene is unrecognizable, why not just use another medium? Still, minor edits here and there will help sharpen your images and emphasize specific colors that create something more dynamic and attention-grabbing.

Tell A Visual Story 

Some photographers will tell you that every photograph must tell a story. However, this isn’t always true, and some photos just are. You don’t need to tell a visual story every time, but recognizing how to bring a narrative, no matter how simplistic, into your new photos is a useful approach. 

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to taking photos, so think about what story you get from looking at the scene before taking a photo. When you understand the story being told, work out how to capture this through your camera. This could mean focusing on subtle details or getting a different angle, but it will be worth it. 

Explore Unique Subjects 

Aspiring photographers will often strive to take stunning pictures of sunsets, but everyone takes pictures of sunsets. As good as the shot might be, it won’t stand out from others.

With this in mind, it’s important to think outside the box. Sure, this is a little cliche, but if you want to take your photography skills to the next level and make everything stand out from others, these unique subjects – whatever they may be – will be your friend. 


Knowing how to make your photographs stand out will make you a better photographer and give you the confidence to enter competitions, which you might end up winning. Even if you’re not concerned about being a world-famous photographer, you’ll enjoy taking photographs more, and that’s what matters most, anyway. 

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