Avoid camera shake
Hold the camera steady. Use both hands, rest your elbows on your chest and hold your breath as you release the shutter. Take advantage of a wall, post or any other means of steadying support. Use a tripod for shutter speeds of less than 1/60 sec. When using a lens with a long focal length, choose a shutter speed at least as fast as the focal length. For example if the focal length is 100 mm, set the shutter speed to at least 1/100 sec.
As a basic guide, use the "rule of thirds". Position points of interest or areas of color a third of the way up, and / or along the frame. Putting a point of interest dead center usually makes for a dull picture.
Use the frame of a doorway, arch, or trees to emphasize the main subject. Try and find a main point of interest, even in a landscape and exclude the unnecessary. Less is usually more. Try to lead the eye through the picture eg with a winding road leading to an interesting tree, mountain or building etc.
Light is the photographer's paint brush. For outdoor shots, the best light is found during the first two and last two hours of the day, when the sun strikes at a low angle. But some of the best shots are often taken as the sun breaks through a cloud sky, particularly just after a storm. If you're lucky and have the patience to wait, the sun may strike just the right spot in the scene to make a perfect picture. In outdoor portraits, avoid direct sunlight into the subject's eyes causing squinting. It's far better to use fill-in flash.
Fill the frame
People shots vary from close up head-shots to full-length. Whatever you choose, fill the frame with your subject, do not leave lots of space around them without it adds information. A garden may be interesting if you're taking a portrait of a gardener, but otherwise concentrate on the subject and keep the picture uncluttered. This applies to all subjects, including still life, not just people.
When taking a photograph, you are there, experiencing the surroundings. That memory will remain with you. But for the person who sees only the finished picture, it's difficult to judge scale. A towering cliff, a high waterfall or vast beach, for example, have no dimension unless seen against something of a recognizable size, such as a person or building. These elements add impact.
Depth adds a three-dimensional feel to a flat picture. For example, branches of a tree in the foreground, a building in the middle ground and mountains in the background assist the eye by drawing it from one element to the next. A wide angle lens can extend this perspective, while a long focal-length can compress it.
Add movement to a still photograph. A waterfall will look as if it is flowing if you use a tripod and an exposure of 1 to 2 seconds. You'll need a slow film and a small aperture if it's a bright day.
Taking a shot of a crowded street or children playing can also add interesting movement, if taken at a reliably slow speed. Experiment with exposure times of about 1/15 to 1/60 sec. Using a tripod means the surroundings will stay sharp, enhancing the feeling of movement.
If you take a shot of a scene with extreme light contrasts, such as a snow-capped mountain between dark cliffs, the mountain is likely to look washed out or have even disappeared when the picture is printed. Adjust by reducing the aperture size by 1 to 2 F-stops. Elements that are too dark (underexposed) can be corrected with printing, but elements that are too light (overexposed) are lost forever.
For close-up shots, use a lens with a focal length of about 100 mm to keep the face in its normal proportions. It also provides space between you and your model and is there less less intrusive. Focus on the eyes, because this is where we normally look. Choose a wide aperture to reduce the depth of field and blur any disturbing background elements. Use a tripod and remote shutter release. In this way you can look directly at and talk to your model. This helps to put your model at ease and draw out his or her character.
When using negative film and commercial printing, photographs are automatically corrected as far as possible to produce "normal" exposure and color. However, this does not help if you are experimenting, or want to deliberate under or overexpose. To see true results, use transparency film. This can not be automatically corrected during processing – you get what you shoot. If you use a digital camera you can check the result immediately and re-shoot until you get the effect you're looking for.