Tips For Getting Your 'National Geographic' Shot

Getting that perfect shot can be difficult. There are a number of different variables that come into play that can make or break whether that shot is National Geographic worthy, such as lighting, motion, gear, and even the camera case. These tips are designed to help you get the best shot possible, not matter what the situation.

1. Know the Light

The first thing you should do is assess where the light is coming from and use that to your advantage. Whether the light is natural or artificial, you can make it enhance your photo. In fact, the light should be interacting with your shot in some way. The best thing to do is determine if you want your light source to highlight your subject or cast shadows. Check out Jason Row’s 2015 Article “ Effective Photographic Strategies for Mixed Lighting.”

2. Pack Properly

Shooting in harsh environments or during adverse weather can ruin your shoot, but it can also weed out the competition. If you want that money shot, you have to pay the price. Just make sure you’re not paying for damaged equipment while you’re at it. Proper protective cases (such as those found at can keep your lenses, flash, and camera safe during transit and setup.

3. ISO

You need to always ask yourself what ISO you should be using, before each shot. If you are shooting outside during midday, you will want to use a lower ISO, for example 100 or 200. The darker it is, the higher ISO you should have. If you are using a higher shutter speed, you also need to use a higher ISO to compensate. The opposite is also true with low shutter speed. To read more about ISO, see this article “ Getting Started with ISO: A Beginner’s Guide

4. Read Up

This may seem simple, or even obvious, but you should read over your cameras manual. The manual will tell you exactly what your camera can do, and how you can do it. Every camera is different, so it's important to see what function yours comes with. Beginning photographers: don’t be too proud to use automatic settings until you are practiced enough on your camera.

5. Just Keep Snapping

Many photographers have a bad habit of looking at the photo they just took on the screen. This is how you miss out on some of the best photos. You will have plenty of time to go through the photos later and decide which are worthy of keeping. For now, stop looking at the screen or through the view-finder and just keep snapping.

6. Framing

This is a technique specifically used to draw attention to something in your shot. There are many ways you can frame a scene, such as through an arch, a window, trees, etc. By doing so, you draw the focal point to what is in the middle of the frame.

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March 30, 2017


Totally agree with you, Rachel! It's really important to read manuals, but it's better to do it before going for a trip to take beautiful photos, not afterwards) And yes, mind packing... I broke my lens once when I was climbing a mountain. Rocks are dangerous for fragile stuff.
One more truth about National Geographic pics is the work that is done over a photo. Some of them, like landscapes, may look unrealistic because photographers abuse using HDR If an image is overedited, it loses its attractiveness for me.

November 01, 2016


good article :)

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Photo credits: Yunhao Zhang.