Whether you are a pro or just love to take photos of your family there are 10 things that, with a little attention, will make your photos look amazing. These tips are very helpful regardless of the camera…even a phone. Now, like learning anything, the more you do it even with a cheat-sheet, the more it becomes second nature and you will no longer need to think about it. With that said, let’s get into it. I will first list the 10 tips at a very high level, not in any particular order; then will delve into each with detail one per week.
1. Avoid direct bright overhead sun.
2. Avoid clutter in the background (cars, debris, furniture, etc)
3. Have subject look toward the lighted area, but not at the sun but rather a sunlit sidewalk, wall, or pool, etc.
4. Avoid branches, corner of a room or building, telephone pole, etc. from being centered with the top of the head.
5. Point of view, images can be more interesting if all is not shot from your standing position,i.e. shooting down on kids is not the best perspective.
6. If you have the sun behind the subject, consider using a flash outdoors or a reflector of some sort.
7. When shooting photos of people, and if you’re trying to capture the face, focus on the eyes. If both can’t be in focus, try for the one closest to the camera.
8. Rule of thirds. There are interesting compositions with the subject in the middle of the frame, but generally most look better when they’re not. This gets interesting!
9. Try to avoid the horizon line from running through the center of the image cutting the frame in half, i.e. 1/2 sky, 1/2 water.
10. Having another element that makes your subject stand out like converging, or diminishing lines such as a fence, wall, road, etc. (will explain)
I hope if any find these tips helpful please tune in over the next weeks where I will not only show examples but offer remedies that will help immediately at the moment of taking the photo.
1. Avoid Direct Sunlight:
One of the biggest improvements one can make is to take your subject out of direct sunlight. In the example shown below, the only change between the photo on the left and the photo on the right is where the model is standing. The first shows direct sunlight hitting the subject with horrible looking results. By having the model take two steps back within the doorframe allowed the overhang to block the direct sun from hitting her. This simple change resulted in a much better photograph. The street and sidewalks were nice and bright lighting up her eyes beautifully.
If you don’t have a doorway or a structure to block the overhead light, find something like a sweater, cardboard, paper bag, garbage can lid, or even an umbrella. Doorways, gazebos, parking garages, overhang of a vendor stand, pavilions, a wall that provides some shade are all good areas to shoot. The best position is just inside the shadow line. If you look at the sidewalk on a bright sunny day you will notice distinctive shadows from trees, buildings, trucks, etc. Have the subject stand just inside the shadow far enough until you don’t see direct sun on them, but close enough to the light where it can softly light the face.
This next example (below) was shot with the subject just inside a covered bridge on a very sunny day. The macadam was so bright it just lit up her eyes like a giant soft box.