Buy a better camera
The main ingredient for professional-looking snaps is advanced photography skills, but the quality of your camera does also play a role. However, there's no use spending extra on features that you don't know how to use.
Your best bet is investing in a camera that does most of the hard work itself. Look out for intelligent systems that automatically alter the settings according to the environment, a good megapixel count, and a high-quality lens.
Focus on composition
Composition basically means the way in which you frame the subjects of your photographs. One of the most well-known guidelines for capturing interesting shots is the rule of thirds: split your image into a three-by-three grid and position subjects along the lines and at intersection points. This helps you avoid the rookie mistake of always centring your subject.
Another simple way to improve your composition is to experiment with new perspectives - get down low or up high for a more interesting viewpoint. Also, take advantage of lines that lead the eye when possible. Just think how effective the 'person at the end of the pier' shot is.
Remember to use empty space effectively, too. If a subject is looking or moving out of the frame, make sure to leave empty space where they are facing towards. Having the bonnet of a moving car or someone's distant gaze on the edge of the frame can create a sense of discomfort.
Take a class
Like with most things, having a professional show you the ropes is the best way to improve your photography skills. There are a variety of ways to learn, so you can find something to fit your schedule, budget and level of commitment.
Online classes are often inexpensive, and allow you to learn at your own pace. Craftsy has a wide selection, with prices typically around £30. You can also find free resources on YouTube and Pinterest.
For a more hands-on approach, look for a local photography class. You can enjoy one-off sessions to brush up on the basics or learn about a particular skill, or enrol on a course to develop a more comprehensive skillset. You can even earn a photography qualification - check your council website for more information.
Edit to perfection
Programs such as Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 allow you to fix red-eye; straighten and crop the image; adjust brightness, contrast and exposure; and more. This means that photos once destined for the recycling bin can be transformed into images you're eager to print. Remember, if you're printing at home, use a high-quality photo printer, ink and photo paper for the best results.
Do you have any more tips for taking better photographs? Share them in the comments below!