Everyone has a digital camera today and we all take a lot of photos. But if your photos still have trees coming out of your father's head, mom has red eye, and your beloved pet is never facing the camera then here are some tips to help you take better photos.
1. Always be aware of the background. I know this is the hard one but it is critical. If you're setting up a shot take a quick look at what is behind the people in your shot. So many perfectly good photos are ruined by a tree seeming to grow out of a person's head. It can be as simple as the person taking one full step to the right or left to move the obstacle that would ruin your photo.
2. Use available light. If your digital camera has an option to turn the flash off and it's light enough outside to read a book then use the available light and turn the flash off. In general camera flashes are too harsh for human skin and make all of us look pale. (Even better if your camera has a fill flash use that indoors where there isn't enough daylight, and place the person by a window as well.)
3. Use ambient soft light. The reason that so many of use pose people under trees, and end up with the ruined photo with a tree coming out of dad's head, is that we all instinctively know that soft light is best. Sunlight filtered through a trees' leave is beautiful and warm. It warms up the skin and puts a soft light to the features. Indoors near a window with drapes has a similar effect.
4. Aim your camera slightly down at the person's face. Now I don't mean climb a ladder but just don't ever, and I mean ever, point your camera looking up to a person. We all look fat and bloated at that angle. Also don't shoot just face on to the person, try a little to the side, a three quarter view, so that you see more of their face. Remember camera higher looking down and a three quarter view, it will slim your subject.
5. Remember your focus, are you taking a photo of mom and the tree, then take mom with the whole tree. But if you're taking a photo of mom next to a tree do we really need to see the entire tree? Get closer to your subject. We can see some of the tree bark with mom leaning against it, but showing the whole tree is a waste. Remember this tip with children, many people take a shot of their dear child for an expression on the child's face, but in the printed shot the child is lost next to another kid, the swing set, and the dog. Remember get closer.
6. Never put your subject dead center. All family photographers do this and it's as hard of a habit to break as remembering to look at the background. But if you've moved closer to your subject remember to put them just sightly off center. Not a lot just a bit. When you're shooting even groups of people this is especially easy but odd numbered groups is a little more difficult. Just find your imaginary center line of your group and put that line just a bit off center in your view through your lens or screen.
With these tips you can be on your way to taking better photos today.
About The Author
Copyright 2004 Kelly Paal
Kelly Paal is a Freelance Nature and Landscape Photographer, exhibiting nationally and internationally. Recently she started her own business Kelly Paal Photography (www.kellypaalphotography.com). She has an educational background in photography, business, and commercial art. She enjoys applying graphic design and photography principles to her web design.