Has someone given you a digital camera as a gift lately, say, for Mother’s Day perhaps? Or maybe you have just replaced your own and want to learn a little more about it? Well, today we have award-winning photo journalist, Kevin Seifert, here to share some great tips for capturing those special moments. Whether in the classroom or at home with the family, his ideas can transform your photos from ho-hum to dazzling. Check it out!
How to Take Better Pictures
By Kevin Seifert, Owner, Photoendeavors, LLC
When you receive a camera as a gift it is more than just a camera that you are being given. Your children, husband, or friend is symbolically telling you that they like to spend time with you. So much time, in fact, that they want to capture each moment and make it last forever.
Photography has the ability to bring relationships into perspective. You can share the photographs with family members that live across town or even in other parts of the world. Large prints or photo collages can adorn your walls to give your house life. These timeless moments tell the story of your life from your perspective. Right out of the box, you can start capturing those great moments in your life with your new digital camera.
So many people can find commonality in photography. We look at imagery everywhere: advertising, social media, family photo albums, email chain letters and magazines. What separates these great images from routine snapshots? Often, it is just thinking a little bit more about the shot while you are photographing. Here are five easy tips to guide your thoughts.
Imagine your kids are making waffles for you on this Mother’s Day. Little Johnny is pouring the batter. There is drama there with the juxtaposition of the large, messy, slippery pitcher and the little boy’s focus. Dad has him wearing colorful oven mitts as a safety precaution for the hot waffle iron. You have several chances at photographing this adorable moment. Here is how to do it:
Go ahead and fill the frame of the camera with the shot. Get close enough that you isolate Johnny’s face, the pitcher and the edge of the waffle iron (watch out, it’s hot). In household moments, you can control the scene. Pull the waffle iron out far enough that you can be opposite Johnny. You’ll notice that by getting closer, the image will also become cleaner. Elements in the background will become out of focus, thus, emphasizing the focus of the image.
The second simple tip is to just let the moment happen. Sally is in charge of pressing the waffles as we continue the example above. She may pause, posing for you on the first shot, as children are often taught. Then, just keep taking pictures as she completes the task at hand. This natural progression will make the images more timeless. The organic nature of the shot allows the story to unfold.
Step back to show where your loved ones are positioned. Go ahead and shoot an overall picture of the scene as it is happening. Maybe grandma is at the table behind a large bouquet of fresh flowers and there is a piece of artwork sent from your niece pinned to the refrigerator. As time passes, you can look back at the photographs to put your future self into the present moment. You may have forgotten about that piece of artwork from your now famous niece or that your mom was behind the flowers experiencing this day with you.
Those glorious flowers that your mother is next to in the previous shot add color to the room. Scope (above) has given you a photo placing them on the table. Now, zoom in on just the brightest flower or two in the arrangement. Get so close that you feel like your nose is immersed in the petals. Do the same with waffles, which were made for you with love. They now have strawberries and a sprinkling of powdered sugar atop. A photograph can remind you of the fragrance in the air, the sounds of laughter and the morning light coming through the kitchen window.
Before you dig in for breakfast, place those waffles on the counter under the kitchen window, turn off your flash and — “Viola!” — you have an image that looks like it has been taken right out of a food magazine. Since, this beautiful kitchen scene is set in the morning. Blasting a flash will nullify the quiet nature of the sunlight streaming through the window. Apply this light tip to your scope photographs by taking them sans flash, too. Natural light makes the moment real. The pulsing flash distracts your lovely subjects and your camera will reward you with greater responsiveness once the flash is out of the equation.
Have fun with your new gift. Enjoy every precious moment!
About the Author
Kevin Seifert has photographed everything from the public schools in Durham County, NC to trips to the Final Four to the Carolina Hurricanes drinking from the Stanley Cup in 2006. A graduate of the prestigious Scripps Howard School of Journalism, Kevin shares his expertise and knowledge as he mentors students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the owner of PhotoEndeavors, an editorial and corporate freelance photography business, as well as, Kevin Seifert Wedding Photography where he uses his unique skill-set to capture authentic wedding moments. Kevin is working on his first book about photography and is passionate about helping others capture the moments that define their lives.
Originally published: May 9, 2010