Try to match the orientation of the subject to the orientation of the photo (Figure B.5). Landscape orientation, where the photo is wider than it is tall, usually works best for landscapes (with specific exceptions, such as the gorge in Figure B.5), whereas portrait orientation, where the photo is taller than it is wide, works best for people. Computers and TVs use landscape orientation, so keep that in mind if you plan to do a lot of slideshows.
Figure B.5. Portrait orientation makes all the difference for this picture of the long, deep gorge that runs through Cornell University.
Try to avoid posing your subjects. Most people aren't very good at describing exactly what they want the person in the photo to do, and most people aren't good at adopting a specific pose without it looking forced. Give it a try and you'll appreciate how hard professional photographers and models work.
Figure out exactly what interests you about a scene before shooting. That helps you set up the shot and find different ways of emphasizing the subject.
Take lots of photosthey don't cost anything. This is especially important when the scene is changing, but even with shots you set up, it's worth taking a couple, just in case one shot works better than another.
As a corollary, try alternative ways of taking a given picture, such as with and without the flash. Do this enough and you'll start to figure out when to use certain settings for your desired effect.
Don't be afraid to get close and fill the frame with the subject, even when it means cutting off parts of people's bodies or faces (Figure B.6).
Figure B.6. This close-up of my wife's face works in large part because it's so close and out of focus.