Christmas is around the corner. Looking at last year’s family snapshots, is there room for improvement when it comes to taking cherished photos of your loved ones? (That’s right, “unforgettable” isn’t the point right now!) Well, there are rules for taking great photos. Relax, stay with us, we’re not going to bore you with focal distances or ISO frequency and whatnot. Just a few simple tips to keep in mind, we promise.
A good image is an image with an off-center subject. Have you heard of the rule of thirds? Imagine that your screen is divided into three equal horizontal parts and three equal vertical parts. So you get a total of 9 parts. Place the crucial elements of your subject along these one-third lines or their intersections. Smartphones and many digital cameras include a grid with these thirds, so use it! If the horizon is part of your composition, consider aligning it along one of the one-third lines.
Speaking of lines, diagonals are a valuable tool for adding a nice feeling of movement to your photo. Consider creating one or two guidelines that draw the eye where you want it. You’re making art, damnit! A masterpiece, in fact! Oops, let’s not get carried away…
Getting physically close to your subject is a simple little trick for getting a good photo, especially for portraits. Try to fill the frame, and if possible, why not center the subject’s dominant eye? That way, their gaze will seem to follow us when we look at the photo. So professional! If your subject is short, or located below you, get down at their level. A good photographer knows to crouch or even lay down on the ground to get a flattering shot of their subject! (And for short photographers with tall subjects, go get a step stool).
Use what’s around you to make your photos fun to look at: doors and windows can be used to create a natural frame for your subject. Including symmetrical elements or recurring motifs can also add a nice touch to your image.
Enhance the contrast between your main subject and the background. The goal is always to highlight the subject. Speaking of the background, try to avoid shooting the bus stop, trash can, or McDonalds behind your subject. Nature always does you good, as the doctors say!
Finally, avoid using flash as much as possible (unless you are able to aim it, and therefore have the light bounce off a white wall). No more red eyes and ugly shadows in the background. Set up your subjects with other light sources than the camera’s flash!
Now, that wasn’t so technical, was it? With these decidedly logical tips, you’re ready to take a keepsake portrait of Granny by the Christmas tree!