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A Writer's Guide to Better Images

by Gary Lewis

One of the best things that happened to my writing was the advent of the digital camera. When my SLR died of mica poisoning from Namibia, I began to use my consumer digital 100 percent of the time. Good images have helped me sell more stories. And I made way more money on my stories due to the ease with which I could copy and transfer digital images. At Northwest Outdoors Writer's Association (NOWA) conferences and by examining the works of other pros, I picked up some rules on how to take better photos.

Here are seven rules I use to compose an image I can sell:

  1. The rule of thirds. Keep the horizon (or false horizon like a river bank or fence line) in the lower third or the upper third of the frame. Put the subject or multiple subjects in one third of the photo, not in the middle.
  2. Get closer. In most cases, the picture is improved when the subject fills the frame.
  3. This type of fishing can be great for your ego, especially when fishing for trout is tough at Bidwell. Try a popper on Pond 3; a few hookups there will change your perspective. A bent pole is a happy pole.
  4. Time the shot for the best lighting. Look at the subject’s shadow. If the shadow is longer than the subject, the lighting is good. If the sun is high and the shadow is shorter than the subject, wait for better lighting.
  5. Connect to the subject’s eyes. Ask the subject to tip his hat back or take off fishing glasses so that the subject can connect to the viewer through his eyes. If the subject is an animal, put the camera at or below the level of the eyes before snapping the image.
  6. Put texture in the background. If there is an old snag or a boulder nearby, try to include it in the photo.
  7. Police the image. Is there a tree, a vapor trail or a telephone pole behind the subject? If so, fix it. If there are fish or game in the photo, clean up any blood before you commit the picture to memory.
  8. Put color in the photo. On a fishing trip, ask your partners to wear bright colors – red, yellow, orange or purple. An easy way to make it happen is to bring hats for them to wear. Then you control the color and the look you want to create.

Gary Lewis Articles

Gary Lewis is an outdoor writer, speaker, photographer and television host who makes his home in Central Oregon. He has hunted and fished in six countries and across the United States. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, he has been walking forest trails and running rivers for as long as he can remember. He is a past President of the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association (NOWA) and was recently presented with NOWA’s prestigious Enos Bradner Award. Lewis is a columnist for The Bend Bulletin, a Contributing Editor for Successful Hunter magazine and a humor columnist for Bear Hunting magazine and a regular contributor for many other magazines and newspapers including The Wilderness Unlimited Oregon Magazine. In addition, he is also the author of 12 books and several DVDs. Gary's books and DVDs make good gifts for hunters and fishermen. For an autographed copy of one of Gary's books, check out www.garylewisoutdoors.com

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