Great Photos … Taken by Us Amateurs

A “Focus” on Impeccability

8 Easy Tips for Taking Your Photos from Good to Great

Have you ever given your camera to someone, asked them to take a picture of you (and perhaps your significant other) only to watch them walk nearly a block away from you before snapping the shot? Okay, maybe a block is an exaggeration but I’ve noticed so many things we could all discover – very simple things – in order to take better shots.

Whether you’re taking photos for business use or pleasure, the following tips are designed to help you make the most of every shot.

1. Get a good zoom lens

The Magic of Zoom

Candid shots are the most admired and often complimented. Perhaps the magic lies in the innocence and authenticity. The further away you can get, the more candid your shots will be since your subjects are less likely to notice you and your camera.

Walk … don’t zoom: For non-candid shots it’s always better to get physically closer to your subject(s) than to do it artificially, via zoom. In other words, don’t walk away only to zoom in. (I see this all the time.)

What IS that?

2. Composition

Framing your shot properly means making sure it won’t look like a tree is coming out of someone’s head. Decide what subject  your main focus is upon, and then be sure you look further – above, below and beyond – to ensure there are no distractions or intrusions.

3. Don’t just smile … laugh

Don't smile ... LAUGH!

The photos that seem to get the most compliments aren’t usually the ones with the obligatory smile. It can be difficult for some people to smile without that smile looking contrived or forced. For an authentic smile that radiates joy every time, do something to make your subject laugh. Our friend Nancy likes to request that people say, “Fuzzy Pickles.” I like to make funny faces or speak in funny voices. Do whatever works for you.

4. Know when to turn off your flash

On most cameras, your flash will automatically fire when there’s not enough light. The problem is when you are trying to take a picture of something that is more than 20 feet away, since that’s about as far as your flash will reach. You end up with a well-lit foreground and darkened (or invisible) background. Be sure you know how to manually turn off your camera’s flash.

5. Use both hands (and the wrist lanyard)

Are you getting lots of blurry shots? There’s a good chance that you may be jerking the camera each time you press the button that snaps the photo. Use both hands for more stability and press slowly. Also, get into the habit of placing the lanyard around your wrist – this could prevent a costly fall.

Note: most digital cameras will allow you to press the button halfway, focusing on your subject and helping eliminate the risk of a last-second jerk or jolt.

6. Invest in a spare battery and memory card

You never know when that low battery warning might come on, or when you’re going to see memory full on your display screen. To be prepared for such unwanted surprises, keep backups on hand.

Very cool flexible tripod

7. Get a $13 flexible pocket-sized mini tripod

Once you’ve learned how to use the self-timer feature, you’re likely to turn into MacGyver – creatively trying to balance (and secure) your camera atop a tree limb or uneven ledge in order to get that group shot. Even if you aren’t much of a gadget person, this low-tech tool is quite handy (and usually makes for a great conversation piece too).

8. Limit how many pics you post to Facebook

This one came to us from our friend Ira Peppercorn. Ira says that most people only have the patience and attention span for about a 20-picture album. So if you want your shared pics to actually get views and comments, post only the (best) favorites. Only your mom is going to click through the 250 shots of your latest seminar or your 300 photos of your cross-country RV trip.

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:: What photo tips do YOU have? ::

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