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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10 Tips on how to take great photo's of your family, and friends.
I have never taken a professional course on photography so please don't think I am an expert, however I have learned a lot by trial, and mostly error on how to get great photos of my family.
1. First, and foremost don't try to take photo's of children (or anyone) when they are hungry, tired or cranky.  You are only going to upset yourself, them, and end up with crappy photos. This is especially true for babies, and toddlers. Just don't do it! If you think they will be hungry at the time of the photo shoot bring along a non-staining snack that doesn't have food coloring in the snack. I say non-staining because you don't need a photo of your child with blue lips from a colored drink in the middle of your Christmas card photo, or worse that same drink spilled on their clothing. This is what happens when my grandson doesn't want to pose, and while it's cute once I don't need a 100 like that so I have to choose a time when he is willing to pose for me, or bribe him to pose. (I am not above that technique either)

2. Bring along some props for them to hold, or play with.  This can be themed to suit your photo shoot like for example the pom poms in this cheer leading photo, or it can be something as simple as a wagon, favorite doll, blanket, hat..etc... Often they will play with those items, and you will end up with a really candid photo that you would not have gotten otherwise.

3. Don't be afraid to crop in close! This is the same photo as the one pictured above, but it was cropped in a lot more closely than the original. Both are fine so it just depends on what type of photo you are looking for during your shoot

4. The sun is NOT necessarily your friend. Whenever possible most of my photo's are taken during overcast day's, or late in the evening just about an hour before sunset. Otherwise your subjects will end up squinting during the brightest daylight hours even with the sun to their backs.  This causes them to look unhappy, and will cause women especially to look older than they really are which is never a good thing. Here is a perfect example, this would have been a good photo of her face had it not been for the squinting from the sunlight, which not only makes her eyes look small, but also causes frown lines in her face. Not a good look at any age.

5. Study other photo's and figure out "why" you like them.  Is it the natural background, the pose of the model, or the theme of the photo? All of those things can be replicated in your photos if you find the right area to take your photo's in, or learn how to better pose your subjects. This photo for example was taken on a college campus right out front in their landscaping. You can't tell that right next to this couple was a parking lot, and a huge building. If however you are shooting on property other than your own get permission from the owner first. Learn to look at areas with a camera's eye, and you will be surprised at how many local locations would make beautiful backdrops for your photos.

6. Play with your camera, and take lot's of photo's. For every good photo that I take, I probably take 25, or more bad one's.  Don't give up, and you will learn what angles work best, when to click the shutter during action shots, and what your particular camera is capable of doing..etc... I don't own a really expensive camera, but I do recommend a digital camera that has at least a 10x zoom capability. It is only with that zoom feature, and learning when to click my shutter that I am able to get action shots like this one while I am still seated up in the bleachers. 

7. Dress for success! Not every photo has to be taken in formal attire.  This photo was taken while my granddaughter was wearing a simple "Tinkerbell" Halloween costume, but it was nowhere near Halloween. It did however fit right in with the blooming flowers of the garden..

8. Use the season's to your advantage!  The simple effect of the falling leaves, pretty fall colors and, the texture of the tree does most of my work for me in this shot.  It also helps that he was dressed in the same colors that I wanted to portray in the photo helping them to all blend into a great seasonal photo.

9. Be careful of the background especially during indoor shots.  The last thing you need in the perfect shot of your child is a stack of dirty laundry, or a sink full of dishes. Also for most of my indoor shots I place my subject right next to an open doorway, or an open window that has a lot of light shining through, but not shining directly on my subject.  It can make for some wonderful indoor shots without requiring a lot of extra lighting. This was taken against a white wall near an open doorway.

10. Download, and learn how to use a good photo editing program. My favorite one is a free download by Google, by the name of Picasa.  You can find it HERE .  It took a while to get used to using it, but it can be the difference between a so-so photo, and a great one! (I am not in any way paid by this company) It will also do many features that can enhance your photos like adding text, turning a color photo to black and white, cropping, removing red eye, etc... 

There are many other tips that I haven't gone over like the "rule of thirds", etc.. that can be found on the internet.  Have fun learning new techniques, and I hope I have helped you improve your photography skills. Happy Scrapping! Love Penny

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