Have you ever wondered why it is that other folks can get great pictures of family and friends, but yours seems to be all duds? Oh yah, you take a lot of pictures, and with the advent of the newer technology of “digital photography” it’s sure a lot less expensive to “shot-gun” and hope for the best. But even then, most of them you just throw away. Well, I hope I can cut down on your practice and get better pictures the first time. I’m still learning, but I try, and what works for me I’ll pass on to you.
I’ve always been interested in personal photography, at least that’s what I call it for lack of a better description. I take lots of pictures of flowers, or various greenery, but getting good —- no – great pictures of people has always escaped me. I am beginning to get better pictures, but I still hold to the theory of “take a bunch; put ‘em on the computer and sort, critique, pick the best, dump the rest”.
Let’s start with some folks pictures. A few years back we had visitors for a couple weeks or so, (life-long friends) and had multiple chances to get great pictures. One occasion we were at a park, and my mistake was to have them stand in the sun with a background of a flowering bush. First of all, background sucked. Second mistake was to have them facing the sun, got gorgeous pictures of squinting eyes. Further adding to this was I was shooting full body pictures. Sadly, I lost every picture, couldn’t save even one for some decent memories. Let’s look at this problem. Operator error, big time. First of all, I know that it was NOT the camera’s fault – period.
I was using one of those little hand held cameras that fit in your pocket. These pictures below are from that camera.
You just don’t need a commercial camera to get good memory pictures and I think this is proof. You and your subject needs to be what is adjusted, not the camera. There are a lot of little tips that make better pictures, just follow the ground rules, and also experiment to see what you want out of a picture.
These pictures (below) are with a newer camera, and I just happen to believe that there is no difference in quality for those special memories.
Fujifilm FinePix HS30EXR Digital Camera – (our personal camera)
I’m one of those folks that really enjoy having a word picture along with a camera picture to complete the memory. It’s been said that a “picture is worth a thousand words”, and I believe it’s true, but I also believe the words along with the picture are just as important – especially for later generations.
Take the picture of that green thingie above. Actually it’s a picture of a snow pea plant that’s just two days out of the ground. I took it about 2 feet away using the telephoto. I put it on the computer and worked with the size but not the colorization. I trust the camera and what it sees when I can. The picture now makes a lot more sense by adding the word picture to go with it.
Have you ever seen pictures that had history but they meant nothing to you? Just who was that guy with the big mustache, or what was the picture of the house supposed to be, or maybe the elderly couple standing by that old car? When I had to clean out my mother’s house, we had boxes of old pictures that I’m sure they meant a lot to her, but I had absolutely no idea who those folks were. In her later life, she couldn’t remember either – no help. I know they were probably relatives, but I had no clue to find out who they were. End result was the pictures were destroyed but if they had been well marked; we could have passed our generation history down to our kids and grand-kids. You really do need the word descriptions to go with the pictures.
See the young lady above that’s looking at something while she looks down. It is as if she wasn’t aware of someone with a camera. (She was). The young man is very well aware of the camera, he posed for it. That is a very natural pose for our grandson. Notice that he has his body turned a few degrees, not head on.
If your taking pictures of folks that are outside, you have very little control of the background, but you can overcome this by being in the shade, using a flash and go for the heads and shoulders. Get fairly close so the flash will cover all the unnecessary shadows. You can do the clipping to get better centering etc. from the computer later, when you go for the best shot. Remember, take a bunch, edit on the computer, keep the best – dump the rest.
Take multiples of pictures but not with the same pose. Never have your subjects face on, but rather have them at an angle and turn their heads to face you. Take about 3 pictures – then you move a couple steps left and take more. Go a few steps in the other direction and get some more shots. Have them turn just their heads to follow you but avoid the direct head on shots at all costs. You will wind up with 15 pictures or so, but take my word for it, it will be well worth it as you’ll get one or two shots that give you want you want.