Nature (Groupie) Photography Tips

Person with camera in woods

You do not need fancy equipment to take good photos. A camera is simply a tool to capture YOUR imagination.

Here are some quick tips to consider for good outdoor photography:

a photo of a pond overlaid with a grid to show the rule of thirds for photographic composition.

1. Composition matters. The camera gives you a frame, like an artist's canvas. You can choose what to include in the photo and what to leave it - it's an important choice!

The rule of thirds is a way to compose an image that is more pleasing to the eye. Instead of placing your subject in the center of your photo, try placing it off to the side. The same goes for the horizon, try placing it in the upper or lower third of your photo frame.  Other tips for composition...

  • Move your body!
  • Consider what you are placing in the foreground/background.
  • Experiment with your zoom.
Light shining through hemlock trees.

2. It's all about light. Good light makes a good photo.

Try going out at first and last light, also known as the golden hour (the hour or so after sunrise and before sunset). Other tips for light...

  • Cloudy days might seem like a bummer, but they are great for photos!
  • If possible, avoid direct sunlight that can cast harsh shadows (especially challenging in winter in contrast to bright snow).
  • Try to find shade if you can't avoid direct sunlight.
A group of people looking at the camera during a winter hike.

3. People! Including people enjoying nature in your photographs helps other people connect with your photo.

Including people in your photo will help inspire others to get outside! Prepare for moving targets and try to capture people in action doing what they love in nature - hiking, biking, skiing, running! Here are some more tips for catching great people pics...

  • It might feel cheesy, but it's ok to ask people to smile!
  • Try taking pictures of hands (holding a compass) and feet (muddy boots on a trail). You don't always need to capture the whole person to include people.
  • It's OK to take pictures from behind. Photos OF BEHINDS are not great, but as long as that's not the focal point, go for it!
  • Group shots show the power of community.
A close up picture of a fern fiddlehead in spring.

4. It's in the details.

Try to find interesting details - the things we usually just walk by without a second thought. Sunsets and wildlife are popular, but think about all there is to enjoy in nature. Get close - zoom all the way in or try out your camera's macro setting.

5. Take time to make quick edits. Making even minor edits can go a long way to improve a photo.

Don't be afraid to edit your photos! Cropping a photo to change the composition can make a huge difference. You might also adjust the contrast or use photo filters.

6. Practice! Practice, practice, practice - the more photos you take, the better you will get at taking photos!


These photo tips are adapted from a presentation by former Nature Groupie staffer, Emily Lord.