Yahoooooo! Spring break is right around the corner, and we’re headed to Hawaii. I am super excited to step into the sunshine and warm weather and explore the islands with my favorite husband and our nephew Max, who’s chosen Hawaii Volcanoes NP for his 13th birthday trip. All the kids get a photo book of our adventure for Christmas, and of course I want them to look good. So what are my secrets? Well, they’re not really secrets, but here are a few tips to help you get better pictures.
The number one tip is to take lots of photos. If you look at my favorite photos of the year, you’ll see some pretty awesome photos (if I do say so myself). What you do not see, is the hundreds, even thousands, of other photos I took that weren’t as good. And I am not kidding. Thousands.
Which leads to tip number two. Use that review screen on the back of your camera to see if your photo is good or not, and if it’s not, try it again. Maybe someone wasn’t looking at the camera. Maybe Grandma Barb was talking. Maybe it was out of focus. Maybe a car went by in the background right when you took the photo. My nieces and nephews know that when I say we’re going to take a picture, that really means we’re probably going to take five pictures. If the kiddies are getting restless, promise them they can do a silly pose as soon as you get a good one. This almost always seems to work. And I am not above bribery which also usually works!
Backgrounds make a huge difference in photos. Try to choose a background that showcases where you are, of course, but also be a little selective about that. If you are taking a photo in a parking lot, get right up to the edge of the parking lot so there aren’t any cars in your photos (personal pet peeve, FYI). Same goes for shooting a photo in a crowd. Get as close as you can to the front or side of the crowd so there’s more of what you’re trying to photograph and less of the backs of strangers’ heads. Check to be sure the horizon is straight if you’re taking a picture of the kids at the beach. Wait until the dog in the background has finished peeing on the tree before you take your photo. Little things can make a big difference. Although sometimes the little things make a photo really funny, too!
Do some long-range shots and some close-ups, of people and places. Try to look for unique details and angles. Try tilting your camera to the left or right and see what happens. Everyone who goes to Paris has a picture of The Eiffel Tower. And you should have a traditional photo of it too. And then you should do something different with the Eiffel Tower that maybe no one else has ever done. Try shooting a photo straight up into the sky and check out the perspective. Take a picture of your daughter with the whole beach behind her. Take a profile shot of your son from the shoulders up with just water in the background. Take a picture of just your husband’s feet in the sand, footprints trailing behind.
My final tip is to experiment with forcing the camera to use the flash even when you’re out in the bright sunlight to get rid of shadows and fill in faces better. It also helps avoid the silhouette of a person or a really dark face because the background was too bright. Although I do love a good silhouette… It seems strange to use a flash when it’s sunny, but I recommend trying it. See if you like it. Note that you will probably not be able to leave your camera on its most automatic setting or you won’t be able to override the flash, but you can override it in most cameras.
With digital photography you have the chance to just try things, so play, play, play. Your spring break scrapbook is bound to be better than ever if you use some of these basic tips. And then you’ll be able to enjoy your week or your weekend every time you look at it!