By Elisa Schulz
A good photo is one that tells a story. It offers a peek into our lives, capturing milestones or trivial, but not less special, moments. The end result, or story, matters to us because it freezes time. It encapsulates a moment that will never repeat itself, and we’ll be able to look at it again and again. Isn’t it so bittersweet to look at pictures of our children when they were little, and then to compare them with more recent pictures and marvel at how they’re growing?
So how can we capture our loved ones’ moments in photos that are pleasing to the eye and that tell a story? There are many things that work together for a photo to turn out great, but here are some basic things that anyone can attend to with any kind of camera.
So how can we capture our loved ones’ moments in photos that are pleasing to the eye and that tell a story?
The first advice I ever received from a professional photographer was to watch for the background. A good background (well lit, with some texture or interesting color) can really make a photo. The opposite is true, as well: sometimes a subject can get lost in a cluttered background, and the story is not well told.
Other times, the background mysteriously makes the subject grow horns or lamp shades on their heads (yikes!). Sometimes the background is just “meh,” yet a simple change in angle could make the photo so much more interesting. Try moving around your subject while watching what happens in the background. Choose the best angle and shoot.
Try moving around your subject while watching what happens in the background.
Please, DON’T make me say cheese! Smiles are good, but only if they are genuine. Most people find it awkward to look into a camera and smile. Try to catch them while they are focusing their attention on something else, or give them something to hold (after all, knowing what to do with your hands is the hardest part of posing).
Talk to them, tell a joke, or have them say words that have an AAAAA sound instead of EEEEE. All of these things will work together for a more natural expression.
Please, DON’T make me say cheese!
Light, light, light!
Light is the make-or-break factor in photography — the word photography itself means “drawing with light.” The holidays are a tough time of the year to photograph in because there isn’t much light available.
In low-light situations, cameras will automatically try to compensate for the lack of light by raising their ISO level, which results in pixelated (a.k.a. “noisy,” or grainy) images. And don’t even dream of getting a picture of anything that moves in low light — it’ll be blurry.
Another common problem: you try to focus and the camera lens whirrs and moves all over the place–but never locks in focus. All of these things happen basically because there isn’t enough light. A simple solution?
Light is the make-or-break factor in photography — the word photography itself means “drawing with light.”
Add light! Turn on all the lights in a room, and bring in lamps from other rooms as well. You can also use the flash, of course; just make sure to diffuse its light by placing a tissue in front of it. This little trick takes the edge off of that flat, blue light, and makes the resulting image appear more natural.
You can also use the flash, of course; just make sure to diffuse its light by placing a tissue in front of it.
During the day, if you’re indoors, take advantage of the light that comes in through windows and doors. Position your subject by the window and experiment with angles.
If you’re photographing outside, the best way to avoid bleached out (overexposed) images is to be mindful of the time of day. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times for outside pictures, because the sun is at an angle and the light is softer.
If you happen to be outside in mid-day, when the light is harshest, place your subject in even shade, looking out towards the light. Finally, when photographing around snow, make sure to use your camera’s white balance setting for snow. That will prevent the resulting image from looking grey or blue-ish.
Have fun photographing your loved ones and God’s beautiful creation. Capture your family’s memories and share them—and don’t forget to print them, too! It’s wonderful to share pictures online, but nothing replaces the presence of actual prints on a wall or shelf.