I’m a documenter and memory keeper. A wife, a mother, and a dream chaser extraordinaire. I'm the person that tells the stories you want to remember forever.
If you’re a seasoned pro then you probably don’t need to read this. BUT if you are a parent, grandparent, or just someone who wants to take better photos this is for YOU.
This might seem a little obvious but the best camera is the one you have on you. I’m not personally someone who lugs my huge DSLR around with me and I can NEVER remember to keep small digital cameras charged or in my bag for that matter. But what I always have without fail is my cellphone. And you know what? That is absolutely freaking perfect! Not every image is going to be frame-worthy but they are moments captured and I will treasure them forever.
Seriously. Being conscious of the light around you and how it’s behaving is HUGE. Because if you don’t understand light it doesn’t matter how much you spend on your equipment you’re always going to be left disappointed in your results.
I’m sure you have all heard about the golden hour. This is when the sun is super low in the sky, either rising or setting. This light gives off that super yummy golden glow that people love so much. However, for your average shooter, especially if you’re a parent, trying to shoot only in this light isn’t very realistic.
My number one rule when shooting in sun is to never have people directly facing the sun. You’ll get really harsh unflattering shadows, squinty eyes, and weird smiles. I can promise you that women especially are not going to like the way they look when every line and wrinkle on their face is amplified. However, there are totally creative situations where you should definitely take the risk and play with direct sunlight.
Another example would be shooting in the middle of the day when the sun is super high or directly overhead. In this scenario, it’s difficult to have a person facing away from the sun. Instead, look for dappled light amongst the trees and find complete shade if there’s still too much.
If it happens to be an extra cloudy day and the sky is completely grey have your subject face where the sun would be. This will help prevent dark shadows in the eyes.
If you’re shooting indoors window light will be your best friend and can create some truly dynamic images. The more you experiment with different lighting situations the better you will become!
Eventually, you’ll look at the light in a whole new, dare I say it, light.
I don’t mind a mess in a photo. Lived in homes are all the rage. Seriously not expecting you to clean your entire house for a photo op of your kid acting cute. However, if you notice some trash, a pile of dirty dishes, or something else that just bugs you, simply move it. You’ll thank yourself later I promise!
However, if you forget and don’t notice until after the photo is already taken and you can’t retake or photoshop what you don’t like out, a simple black and white conversion does wonders for eliminating distractions.
I know you all are hardcore rolling your eyes at me right now. You’re thinking auto has served you just fine. News flash! If you were happy with the images you were taking you wouldn’t be reading this. The best and only way to have full control over the way your images look is to learn how to use your camera in manual. Yes, even your cellphone has manual adjustments that can be made before taking an image. USE THIS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. I promise learning how to adjust your exposure, shutter speed, and aperture will absolutely change your life. It can be hard to get the hang of but guess what, practice makes perfect!
When you know how to use your camera you can create incredibly different and dynamic images without changing your environment at all. Both of these images were shot minutes apart in the same space with only manual adjustments to exposure.
You as the photographer should always be moving. Shoot from high angles, low angles, move in close, back up, change the orientation of your camera, all of it. The more you as the photographer move the more options you will have in the long run. And the quicker you will discover things you like or dislike about the way a photograph is framed. The simple way an up or down angle can affect the emotion an image has is astonishing.
I also encourage you to not stay in one spot. Going on a stroll through nature, jumping in puddles around the block, walking through Target, even in your home. It’s important to keep moving so your subject doesn’t get bored or start to feel awkward.
This is particularly true with kids. They are never going to sit perfectly still, they are never going to look exactly where you want them to, they are always going to get dirty. It’s just how it is. At least in my experience. But kids are also the perfect subject to practice on! They force you to confront difficult situations. They are fast-moving subjects that don’t give a crap about what it takes to make a good photo. And that’s PERFECT. Because they also provide you with genuine emotion and excitement which is exactly what makes photography fun.
This might be another obvious point but it really is one of the most important. You can’t get better unless you do the work. So get out there and start shooting as much as you can!
Interested in learning even more?! I have the perfect course just for you! Designed for beginners, moms, entrepreneurs, and anyone just wanting to improve their photography skills! In this course, we cover lighting, posing, composition, and the basics of editing on the lightroom mobile app! Follow this link to snag your copy today!