You probably already know that I use my spare time to photograph people, things, and scenes. I use a Canon Rebel, two different lenses, an external flash, lights and other fancy gadgets when I’m shooting. But I haven’t always. And you don’t have to either. There are simple things you can do to improve your everyday photos. **Please note: For this tutorial, I used my little cousin’s Sanyo S670. It boasts 6 mega-pixels and 3x optical zoom! Also, I’ve used a very compliant model.
1) READ YOUR MANUAL. I cannot stress this one enough. Every camera comes with one and it details all the settings of your camera. Many people get all comfy-cozy with the little green box. Auto. It works okay. But knowing how to use the other settings is very helpful and can improve your photos more than you may imagine.
2) Getting to know your settings:
Most cameras have a portrait setting. This is usually best for getting “people shots.” Of course, that’s if your person is relatively still. You’ll also want to consider your lighting. If you are indoors with decent lighting (maybe an un-curtained window) or outdoors in a well-lit but shaded area, this setting will probably work for you. And, depending on your distance from the subject and your subject’s distance from background, you might just find yourself with a nice background blur effect.
3) Even though most of the newer digital cameras have some amount of anti-blur, you’ll still want to make sure you have steady hands while shooting. This can mean resting your elbows on a table or fence if need be. Any shot taken while you’re in motion will blur to some extent. (This can be used to your advantage, by the way. Just try hopping on a merry go round with your subject on the other side. Your subject will be in focus while the background will be a blur.)
4) Framing. That doesn’t always mean your subject has to be in the exact center, but many times they will be.
The following is what one would call “bad framing,” unless you intend to do something with all that negative space.
And this one is much better:
Don’t be afraid to try different angles when framing your subject!
5) It’s easy to get in the habit of straight on shots or shots from your point of view. Try changing it up a bit. If your little ones are playing outside, lay down in the grass, place your elbows on the ground and shoot from there.
6) Take your time. When you get behind your camera, don’t cave to that pressure to get the shot right now. Pay attention to what’s in your viewfinder, or on your lcd screen. Make sure the camera is in focus first, hold your aim steady, and then wait for a good time to shoot. People tell me all the time that they don’t know how I have such good timing. I don’t. I put my subject in my viewfinder, line everything up, give a half push on the button to pre-focus, and then I wait. I snap only after all these steps.
7) Practice. This is the most important, next to learning everything there is to know about your camera and what it is capable of. Pull it out as often as possible and practice. Use fruit, toys, or household appliances. It really doesn’t matter. Practice lighting and using your settings and framing. The more you practice, the more ready you’ll be at the next birthday party or wedding.
by Expert Mommy, Jennifer Burden