Want to be a better photographer? You came to the right place. This article is intended for the amateur photographer who is the owner of a new camera and simply wants to improve taking photos of their family without necessarily wanting to become a professional. It is easy to take good photos whether you are using the camera from your phone, a point & shoot camera, or a camera with an interchangeable lens. The tips below will help you become a better family photographer and give you a better understanding of what the professionals look for and do when taking photos.
1. Focus on Focus
The most important part of photography is ensuring that all your photos are in focus. Everything else about the photo may be perfect, but if the photo is out of focus, it doesn’t matter. There are three reasons why a photo might be out of focus:
- Your camera’s autofocus was unable to accurately focus on the subject. Depending on the camera, some models acquire focus better than others. There is nothing you can do about this other than knowing under what conditions your camera’s autofocus would perform poorly. Typically, this happens when environment lighting is poor such as indoors with very minimal lights.
- Your subject moved. Your photo is not in focus because of motion blur. If taking photo using your camera’s automatic mode, this could be difficult to avoid. The general solution is to choose a faster shutter speed so that your moving subject doesn’t matter.
- Your camera moved. This is another form of motion blur and can be avoided by having a steady hand while you press the shutter button. Use smaller/lighter lens to reduce your equipment weight or simply use a tripod.
In all of the above cases, you want to make sure that you try to take at least 2 or 3 photo so that if your first one is blurry, you have a few more chances of keeping an in-focus photo. When taking photos of people, it is important that the eyes are sharp. The rest of the facial features do not matter as much because viewers connect with the photo better when the eyes are sharp.
Also try locking focus and waiting for the moment to take your photo. All cameras allow you to press the shutter half-way to lock focus and then pressing it all the way to capture the photo.
2. Put it in the Middle
Composition is about where you place your subject in the frame of the photo. If they are looking directly at you, place them square in the middle of the frame. Use as much of the frame as possible by zooming in. It is okay to cut off the top of their head, but keep the part of their neck where it meets the shoulders.
3. Move away from the Middle
If the subject is looking away from you, allow some empty space in the direction of where the subject is facing. The people looking at your photo will naturally want to look in the direction that your subject is looking in the photo.
4. Shoot More
The average wedding photographer will take around 2000 photos and give anywhere from 500-800 photos to the client. You should shoot as many shots as possible so that you get at least one photo of the scene where everything is as good as it can be.
Some may argue that this approach is called the “spray and pray”, meaning you are increasing your odds of getting better photos if you take more photos. However, over time, you will learn what works and what doesn’t and the number of shots taken will gradually reduce over time.
5. Delete Your Photos
Why bother keeping photos that are bad? Don’t be a picture hoarder. Delete the poor photos that are too dark, too bright, out of focus, anything that is not perfect. If you are sharing photos on Facebook or elsewhere, your friends/family only care about the ones where they can see everything clearly. Blurry photos are not fun or interesting.
6. Use Your Flash
Use your flash when it is dark, use your flash when it is bright. Any time there is going to be a shadow, use your flash. Later, you can learn about other techniques of flash that not only places light into the shadows, but changes the direction of the shadows for a more pleasing photograph.
7. Know Your Flash Range
The only time not to use the flash is when you are taking a photo of something that is hundreds of feet away. Your flash will never reach it and your pictures will come out dark because the camera thinks the flash is giving it enough light. Flash is only good up to 10-feet.
8. Pan and Shoot
This is a great tip if you have really fast children. Learn to pan and shoot. Follow your subject as they are moving by keeping your camera on the subject and then take your shot. You have a better chance of capturing your subject this way. It is also wise to turn your flash on at this time because that burst of light from your flash has the ability to “freeze” the movement.
Photos taken at the eye-level of the subject are very pleasing because it shows that you are connecting with the subject. To take photos at eye-level, especially kids and pets, you might have to get down to your hands and knees capture that low shot.
10. Check Your Background
Many distracting things going on in your background is not good as it makes your eyes wander away from the main subject of the photo. Take the time to inspect your background before taking the shot. A plain white wall, even if it is a boring wall, makes for a better background. Be careful about positioning your subject too close to the wall, though, as harsh shadows of your subject could be cast against the wall.