Professional photographers spend a lot of time learning and attempting to keep up with the speeding technology of digital photography and it seems that learning how to do it all is a requirement every hour. And so I chase, I research, I try it out and I keep on top of what is out there. The digital aspect of photography is time consuming and mind boggling; storage, color space, pixels, white balance, megabytes, gigabytes, terabytes and gigabit networks. Just when I think, okay, I got it, it changes. I congratulate the 2 photographers that have figured it all out.
While visiting my Dad, I came across some of his magazines from 1965. I opened one up and a big smile formed on my face. Oh nice.. then I had to look at all of them. I was so happy after that little trip to the hip 1960's. Cigarettes, alcohol, love, and rock & roll, advertisements that boldly shunned the conservative 1950's. These advertisements were raw and on the edge and fun! But what really struck me was that photography has not changed. What makes a beautiful photo still holds true today (despite the digital revolution).
It's all about light and composition, isolation and removing distracting elements. And in that moment, I forgot about the technology. So, for just a minute, join me in forgetting about the pixels and the gigabit networks and just think about your photos. Ahhh, it feels good doesn't it? Being mindful before you click will improve your photos.
Here are some simple tips to help you take a better photo at home.
CLEAN YOUR CAMERA LENS
That that little cloud that appeared in all your photos. It is probably finger print smudge. Invest a $1.99 in some camera cleaning tissues and clean your lens from time to time. And get yourself a camera case to protect your camera when you are not using it.
DON'T PHOTOGRAPH YOUR THUMBS
Remove your fingers from your photos. Before you take your next photo, find out where the lens is located and practice keeping your fingers away from it.
TURN ON YOUR FLASH
When photographing people and pets turn on the flash to brighten up the eyes and face on your subject. Especially on a bright day when the sun is directly overhead, turn it on (yes, really). You will be pleased with how much nicer your subjects will appear.
TURN OFF YOUR FLASH (especially in front of windows)
Your flash will not help if you are photographing a big landscape or anything that is out of the reach of your flash. If you subject is say, beyond 10 feet, turn the flash off.
USE YOUR AUTO MODES
There is a little dial on most cameras that allow you to choose your shooting mode. A flower, a face, a mountain, a little guy running. Those are all presets that allow your camera to change the settings to best suit your subject. Refer to camera manual to learn how to change them and take advantage of those settings. They work for beginning photographers.
WAIT FOR YOUR CAMERA TO FOCUS
Most cameras will focus when you press the shutter half-way, at that point look through your view finder for your focus indicator, a green box or a red dot. Before you click, make sure your intended subject is in focus. If it is not, release the shutter, move, recompose and try again.
Before taking a photo, look around for unwanted intruders. A stick from a tree growing out of your subject's head. Look for ugly elements like half eaten hamburger or an electrical cord. Sometimes just moving around can improve your photo, but removing those things is even better.
GET LEVEL WITH YOUR SUBJECT
If you are photographing a child or pet, sit down and get level with the eyes of your subject.
FOLLOW THE RULES OF COMPOSITION
A common compositional practice is the "Rule of Thirds" in which your subject is not smack in the middle of your photo, but about a third of the way into your photo. Using the Rule of Thirds will improve your photos dramatically.
FIND SOME GOOD LIGHT
Sunset and sunrise yields the most beautiful light, but you can also take some beautiful photos by placing your subject just on the inside edge of a shadow. Another lovely lighting set up is to have your subject face a window while indoors and allow the sun to illuminate your subject's face. If your subject is squinting, then move them into the dappled shade of a tree, and turn on your flash.
GET IN CLOSE
Fill your frame with your subject. It is amazing how you can remove many distracting elements by just taking a step toward your subject or zooming in.
Try to hold your camera still when you click to improve the sharpness of your photos and avoid blur caused by movement. Also, be aware of crooked horizons, unless intended.
PRACTICE & SHOOT A LOT
Practice, Practice, Practice. The more photos you take, the more photos you will like.
PHOTOGRAPH FROM THE HEART
If you love something, you will love the photos you take of that something. It might be your baby, your spouse, your best friend, your dog or your cat. And no matter how perfect or imperfect the photos are, you will always love them. Afterall, photos are about preserving memories.
Brenda Colwell is a Family Portrait Photographer creating memories and treasured heirlooms for your family and something beautiful for your home. Book your own unique experience.