Click!: How to Take Great Photos

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Anyone can take a picture, but for some reason some people can take really good pictures.  They may have the same or less quality camera, the same amount of experience, but for some reason their photos are memorable and artistic, while your’s are a little bland.  Although you may sometimes think so, photography is not rocket science. If you follow a few simple tricks, your pictures can be amazing as well.

Know Your Enemy:  First thing to do is to get to know your camera.  You know that big instruction manual it came with, it is actually worth a read.  The settings on your camera will make a world of difference when you take your pictures.  Portrait settings will work well for still photos and sport settings are good for fast paced action or photographing children as they tend to move around.  See what your camera has to offer and try the settings out, this will help take your photos to a new level by understanding what you can and can not achieve with your camera.

Find Your Style:  Photos, like most art, speaks to people for different reasons.  Whenever you see a photo you really like, take the time to figure out what you like about it.  Is it the angle the photo was taken, the effects used in the photos, the subjects? Try to remember this when taking your own photos.

Change Your Perspective:  Most people take pictures directly at the subject, tell them to say “cheese” and snap away.  Next time after you take your photo, try it again from a different angle.  Taking a “normal” picture described above gives the feeling that you are watching the action, getting lower or taking the picture from below the action (especially with children) will give a feeling as if you are part of the action, and if taken from above will give the feeling that you are removed from the action or “god-like.”  The latter of these perspectives is fun because it makes the subjects look caught in the act.

Be In the Moment: Don’t always take portraits.  Catch your subject moving, talking, and being natural instead of just posing.  You will most likely get more interesting shots that reflect the moment better.  If you are just learning to get better shots, try taking a photo either quickly before your posed picture, or seconds after the subject has moved from the pose. As you get better and recognizing good photo opportunities, this will become less necessary.

Also, don’t force people to smile.  Some of the best photos show people crying, pondering, frowning or just being oblivious to the camera.

Become One with Subject:  Get to the person’s eye level.  If photographing children, get down on the floor; for babies, lie on your belly; adults, adjust according to height.  This will be better for portraying facial expression and ensure that all of your photos are not taken from the same perspective.

Strength in Numbers: With the dawn of the digital camera the ability to take as many photos as we desire without the costly developing bill has come.  Therefore, take as many pictures as you can.  Photograph your subjects in different light, angles, moving, still, etc. and then look at the pictures after to see what works, what doesn’t, and how your techniques materialize in a photo.  Professional photographers take tons of pictures of the same pose or moment to ensure that they get just one or two “right” shots.  Just remember to delete photos you don’t like or your library and photo card can get a little excessive.

Practice Makes Perfect: Take time to get better. You don’t need to wait for a birthday or vacation to take pictures. Take shots everyday of simple things.  Try portraits of things in your kitchen or flowers in your garden.  Take shots of your children brushing their teeth or reading bedtime story.  Find a friend or family member and just follow them around for 20 minutes snapping away.  You will not get better unless you try things out and see how they work.  You can always delete.

Adjust the Volume: When I say volume I mean “noise,” such as excess action or busy scenery in the background of your photos.  If there is a lot going on around and it is detracting from the subject it will be a less effective photograph.  Focus in and cut out some of that excess.  On the contrary, if you find that the subject needs more, don’t do a close up, back up and include more of the surroundings.  For example, at a beach you can take a photo close up of your dog digging in the sand.  With this close up, it will portray more of the action and the personality of the dog.  If you want to say more about the location, back up and position the dog as part of the scene, but not necessarily the focal point, including more of the actual beach in the shot.  Whenever possible experiment to see what the effects are by increasing and decreasing the “noise” in your shot, it will very much change the story that the picture tells.

Side-Step: Your subject does not need, and many times shouldn’t be in the centre of every photograph. Move the subject to the side, top, or bottom of the shot to see what makes the best photo.  Play with this, and you will get better at recognizing the best placement for your subject making your pictures better when you don’t have time to set up the shot properly.

Not Perfect? Edit!: So you took some pictures, but you think they can be a bit better if you zoomed in, zoomed out, or moved left.  No problem! Load those pictures up on your computer and use photo software to edit the photos. Try Picasa for free – download off the internet.

Happy Snapping!!

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