All of us want to take better photos. That's a given, even for those of us who seem to be at the pinnacle of our photographic careers. But if it’s not your life’s passion or you’re simply starting out, feeling like you can consistently say. "Wow, I just created a great shot!" can be a bit of a challenge.
Whether you’re using your phone - like most of us in everyday life, or something a bit more advanced, a few basic tips will have you taking photos you’ll be proud to share again and again!
1. LIGHTING IS KEY
Understanding lighting is the most important element for obtaining a great photograph. There is a misconception that abundant light is good and low light is bad. Some of the loveliest portraits are taken in the hour before sunset, during what’s called the golden hour. The light casts a warm and flattering glow on the subject. Too much light, in the form of a very sunny day, can create harsh unflattering shadows on your subject and cause squinting.
Before you start shooting, take a moment to observe the light. What direction is it coming from? This will influence where you place your subject. If you’re outside, open shade is extremely flattering. This is especially true during midday hours when the light is brightest and strongest - have your subject stand in the shade. Ideally early morning, late afternoon and close to sunset (golden hour) are the best times for great light, when shadows are being created from trees and buildings and the light is less intense.
Take time to look at what you’re seeing on your screen prior to taking the shot. Try placing your subject somewhere other than the center of your frame. The idea is that an off-centre composition is more pleasing to the eye and looks more natural than one where the subject is placed right in the middle of the frame. It also encourages you to make creative use of negative space, the empty areas around your subject.
Pay attention to what’s in the background, try take a step or two to your left or right, or try kneeling down to remove distracting elements or objects.
Change your angle. Rather than taking pictures from eye level, try crouching down or even lying on the ground so you can shoot from a really low angle. This technique can help simplify the composition and also gives a unique viewpoint that most people don’t usually see. Don’t be afraid to move in and get close.
Whether or not your subject is in focus can either make or break your images. Having enough available light will help reduce blur caused by motion, while keeping a steady hand and knowing how to focus your camera are all essentials. Taping the screen on most phones in the place you want focus on will work when your phone isn’t doing so automatically. If you’re using a DSLR, learning how to properly focus is a must. Once you’ve
got it down now you can put it to good use. The eyes have been called the “windows to the soul.” When photographing people, you’ll almost always want to place the emphasis on their eyes. You could have the perfect composition and exposure, but if the eyes aren’t sharp, the entire image will suffer.
Since we’re talking about families here, closer is best! Have your subjects get in as close to one another as they can, this creates a sense of unity and warmth. Have them touch, hold hands, placing arms around wastes is great but avoid placing over the shoulder, this looks more like something you’d see a group of old buddies do. Make sure everyone’s face is in view, they don’t necessarily have to be looking into the camera but you definitely want to see some part of their face as opposed
to the back of a head. Having everyone look straight into the camera is always nice but candid moments are also fantastic. Have everyone look at one another and maybe have someone tell a joke to get everyone smiling and laughing.
5. CAPTURE THE MOMENTS IN BETWEEN POSES
If you’re noticing the images look too posed, or your subject is uncomfortable in front of the camera, shake things up. Ask them to do the most ridiculous pose or ask them to pretend to laugh really hard. Take that photo, but keep the camera up and wait. The moment after that photo happens you’ll find their guard will come down, they will laugh authentically or give you a moment that feels much more real.
Want that family photo shoot to include yourself (the photographer)?
Contact JF Photography for details!