Sarah Ehlen - tips for creating striking imagesEvery time you take a photograph, you’re showing the viewer a little piece of your world.

And as you look through your camera’s viewfinder, ideally you’re making two important decisions:

What to include in your frame…

And what to leave out.

The importance of leaving things out is often overlooked in photography.

Behind our cameras, it’s easy to focus on whatever it is we’re trying to capture. But what if we were just as aware of what we’re not photographing?

When it comes to photography, less is definitely more. Here are some examples of simple, yet striking images from my collection:

To create striking photos that sell, you need to keep it simple...

When you learn to simplify, what you’re really doing is telling the viewer what is important in your photo. When your viewer understands this, your image will have a much greater impact. Simple photos are striking and visually powerful.

Here are four tips for creating striking photos:

1.) Know what your subject is. This one might sound obvious, but it’s easy to try and include too much—which often results in too many things competing for your viewer’s attention. If you get clear in your own mind on exactly what your subject is before you take a shot, it will help as you decide what should be in your frame and what should be out.

2.) Remove clutter. Watch your edges to be sure nothing is creeping into the frame that you don’t want. It’s usually best to have clean edges so that the viewer’s eye doesn’t get pulled out of your frame. You’ll also want to watch your background, since this is another place clutter can hide. As you’re composing, move around your subject until you find the cleanest background possible. Another option is to shoot with a wide aperture opening (such as f/2.8) to blur the background.

To create striking photos that sell, you need to keep it simple...

Notice how the photo on the right has too many distractions, pulling the viewer away from the main subject. Compare that to the photo on the left, which eliminates the unnecessary elements, creating a visually simple image with a clear subject.

3.) Get closer. If you’re struggling to simplify your image, one of the best ways is to get closer to your subject or scene. You can do this by moving physically closer to fill your frame with more of your subject, or switch to a telephoto lens so that you can zoom in.

To create striking photos that sell, you need to keep it simple...

On the left, an up-close picture of blades of grass makes for an evocative composition, while on the right, rather than depicting an entire table, zeroing in on a cup of milky tea speaks volumes.

4.) Use negative space. Negative space means leaving large areas in your photo empty. This helps to emphasize and focus attention on the subject, and it’s a great way to practice the art of simplicity.

To create striking photos that sell, you need to keep it simple...

With each of these photos, negative space plays a key role in creating a simple composition.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re out photographing to create simple, yet stunning images.

Remember that less is more, so if you’re at all in doubt, leave it out.

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