Photography 101-Basic Tips

With today’s digital age, many of us have cameras.  It may be a point and shoot, or a dslr….but consensus is that most of us do have them. Now when you become a new parent, not only are you excited about the new bundle of joy about to arrive, but you are also excited to document every moment of their precious lives that you can.

So there you are with your camera. Snap snap. When you look at your photos, some may be mmm ok….and then you see the others that are blurry, out of focus or there may be an orangy cast to your babies skin…or maybe even the details are totally blown out because they are so over exposed or too dark because they are under exposed.

Disappointment hits. Moments like this it would hit hard because you feel like you missed an opportunity where little Jane with sticking her toes in her mouth…or the way little Tommy was sleeping–and you wanted to capture it perfectly. Or as close to as possible.

Contrary to belief, photographers (pending which field they are in of course) tend to prefer to get the picture that they take as perfect as possible directly from the camera or as we say sooc.

Sooc stands for ‘straight out of camera’. Most of us, do not want to spend hours on a photo correcting it because that is something we strive to get right from the get go. Photoshop for most (myself) is a way to enhance a photo, but not necessarily to create it.  When we are able to get a photo sooc and then perhaps only need to tweak it a bit in photoshop it means many things. It means we can get our photos to clients quicker. It means that we have a solid workflow which will also allow us to be able to spend time with our families. So yes most of us do strive to perfect that sooc image.

Now I know that there are a lot of mom’s/dad’s or whoever you are that may sit there and shake your head and say, “But I DON’T understand all the technical camera jargon. How can I take better pictures???”

Well, here’s a few tips for you on what you can do, to not only take better photos, but to also have a better flow allowing you more time do other things that perhaps need to be done.

1)  READ YOUR CAMERA MANUAL

Uhhhh boring! Right?? Yes and no. It can be boring and it can be intimidating because again here is all this information in this booklet and you have no clue where to start.

It may seem complicated, but if you take it one step at a time and one function at a time, it will give you  a wealth of knowledge and the power to control your camera better than ever before.  If you are confused about anything, google and youtube can be your best friends in finding the right explanation.

 

2) Focus

 When the eyes are in focus, it makes for a stronger subject.  Holding your shutter button half way allows for the camera to focus on your subject. You can ‘recompose’ your shot by focusing on your child, keep holding the shutter down, and move your camera to take in more of the surrounding space if you wish…or if you wish your child to not be centred in the middle of the frame.

 

3) Lighting

Don’t use your pop upflash if you can. It creates really harsh shadows and casts a hard light on your subject that for the most part blows out their skin.

Use available natural light if you can and try to get as close to the light source as possible, when you are indoors.

i.e. if you are indoors, get your subject close to a window. You will get more pleasing results that way.

If you are outdoors, and there is really bright sunlight around, see if you can find some shade to have your child sit under and that way you will not have those hard speckles of light falling across them.

For outdoors, we say that the best light is during the Golden Hour or the Magic Hour or the Blue Hour (yes we really do call it that lol) which is the first and last hour of sunlight. ‘Hour’ is used loosely as the time can be 45 minutes more or less. The lighting is softer at that time.

Best thing to do is take a still subject (i.e. book, or some other household item) and take photos of it in the same spot at different times through out the day to see what it is that lighting does.

 

4) Composition & Angles

Try different angles and different heights. Kids are small so get down on your knees to their level and take photos for a more realistic approach.

Don’t forget to get creative though! Maybe get a step ladder and take a photo down at them…or lie down on your back taking a photo up at them! Get creative and don’t forget to get close up to them too!

I want you to look at every photo you are about to take as if it is going to be framed somewhere and super sized.

 

5) POV (Point of View)

 A great photo doesn’t always have to be face on. It can be your childs feet, their hands, bellybuttons, their cute little tushies, an special toy that was bought for them or even something in their environment. It can be a photo of just the lower half of their face with their hand just about to pop a tidbit in their mouth.

 

6) Background

If you have the time, check the background surrounding your subject to make sure that it is uncluttered and there is nothing there that is distracting to the photo you’re about to take. If you see something in the background that you cannot remove, then move yourself around the subject to take the photo.

 

*******BORING ALERT!!!!!**************

Now for some boring (some say) but VERY VERY important tips!!!

 

7) Culling

Digital cameras have given us the capabilities of capturing dozens, hundreds and even thousands of photographs. At the end of the day, download all of your photos. Go through them as objectively as you can (on your computer and NOT on your camera!!) and get rid of those that are blurred, out of focus or just not good.

 

Otherwise you are going to end up with thousands of photos, and when you reach the point that you NEED to clear off space on your computer it will be an enormous task.

 

8 ) Back Up Your Photos

For a professional photographer, photos are backed up after every client session. For personal photos I do the same. Discs are very cheap now a days. At the end of the day…or two…or the week…whichever you are comfortable with, take the time to make copies of those moments. They are precious and they cannot be brought back if your hard drive fails.

 

Do not just make one or two copies. Make 3 0r 4 and the two put into a safety deposit box. Before deleting the files from your computer, double check each and every disc or flash drive that the photos have been transferred to and make sure that they have not been corrupted.

 

A great tool to use as well, is an off site back up system, like Backblaze (my personal preference but there are others out there). Backblaze charges only $50 a year and they save all my files off site in case my computer crashes. But that is just an added measure…not the end all solution.

 

 

9) Print Your Photos

Yes it is sooo great that we live in the digital era. I mean, look at what we can do…snap snap snap…and there we have hundreds of pictures on hundreds of discs.

What the heck is the point of having your photos on a disc apart from sharing them on social media??? Really??

PRINT them!! Create memory books, put prints on your walls but whatever you do print those photos so you can LOOK at them and ENJOY!!

 

10)  Very VERY Important Tip Here

 It generally seems that there is always one parent doing the shooting. Switch off if you can and let someone else take photos of you with your children.  It is not just the child who grows and changes. It is you too.  Your child also needs to see that and will want to see that. You need to be a very vital part of their memories as well.

That is what photographs create. Impressions & memories.

At the end of the day the best advice that I can give is to practice. Practice, practice and more practice.  That is the only way that will have control of your camera.

 

So I hope I haven’t bored you too too much and have at least provided some basic tips that can be of use.

One on one classes on learning your camera are available.  If you have any questions, feel free to email or call me.  *Not mentoring for business. This is merely a class to help you get to know YOUR camera better.*

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