Stuff's Guide to Photography

How to take great snaps on any camera be it your phone or a full-fat DSLR

While we spend a great deal of time figuring out which is the best camera you can buy, the best cameraphone ever made or the only compact you'll ever need, we don't spend a whole lot of time telling you how to use them.

So, in this collection of straightforward mini-guides, we're collecting the best photography tips from our expert snappers. No long technical explanations, just different ways to try taking photos with any camera.

We'll be expanding this guide over the coming weeks, so keep checking back for more useful tips.

Part 1: it's all about background

In a nutshell, bokeh means blurred background. One of the first things you should learn in photography is that you don't want all of your picture in focus - pick out the details you want the picture to be about and blur the rest, and your picture will have purpose. Here's how.

part 2: learn to zoom

A zoom lens doesn't just magnify things, it changes the way they look. Spend 10 minutes mucking about with the zoom on your compact camera and you'll find your photos take a big leap forward. Here's the guide.

part 3: go prime

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to buy a nice expensive DSLR or compact system camera and then only use it with the simple 'kit' lens that came with it. The first, best upgrade you can make is to attach a prime lens - here's why, and which one to buy.

part 4: pan for gold

Panorama mode might be something you've used once or twice, but it's actually a startlingly powerful creative tool that can create amazing effects - read this guide to find out how to best use this feature

part 5: family album

If you're a parent, you probably take an average of thirty billion photos per year of your children. Follow this smart, simple guide and learn to do it properly.  

Part 6: write with light

All kinds of photo-magic can be achieved by simply switching to a slower shutter speed. Find out how to shoot long exposure photos.

Part 7: go monochrome

Want to turn your hand to the oldest type of photography? Check out our guide for shooting black and white pictures to add some vintage cool to your snaps.

Part 8: Capture the action

Those athletes just won't stay still enough to let you take a photo, will they? Time to brush up on your action photography with our guide from a pro mountain biking snapper

Part 9: Snap the stars

And we don't mean papping C-list celebrities - check out our guide to the altogether more edifying pursuit of astrophotography.

Part 10: Make your photos extra tasty

Food photography is rife with clichés, poorly lit munchstagrams and uninspiring dinner-brags - stand out from the homogenous hordes with our guide to taking mouth-watering food snaps.   

Part 11: Stand out in the dark

Low light photography can be tricky enough with a DSLR, let alone a comparatively diddy smartphone sensor - but you can use the gloom to your advantage with our guide to the best apps and techniques for night-time smartphone snapping