Say cheese! One, two, three, click! If that is as far as you have gone as a picture director, it's time to upgrade your skills and lunge through the boredom threshold! Don't be one of the million passive picture takers. Look at your pictures. Your camera is not just there to record some memories or places you have visited. It is a creative tool to have real fun with, not a Xerox machine clomping out copies of everyone else's ho-hum, ho-hum. Your camera is a magic canvas and brush to capture the lights and shadows in museums, temples, mountains and heritage sit. You can make these places sing the songs of their own history if you see your camera as your orchestra, not your tape recorder! People, too, have so much drama in them. As for people pictures...wow....you can snare that rare moment of panic or anxiety or sheer joy and exhilaration at the view in front of them or the look of love and kindness, of wonder and bewilderment or even of secret conversations as you focus on faces of people in one corner of the party hall. Come on, have some fun. You are Picasso of the pics!!!! Here are some tips:
- Snap, snap, snap. Odds are you have a digital camera. Pictures cost nothing. Take dozens and keep just one or two. Go for it. Get rid of the old film idea that each frame costs. This is a snappers free for all and you will get some amazing spontaneous unstaged pictures. Remember the Militia. Ready, Fire...Aim!
- Focus your camera at eye level. When you talk to someone, you get more engaged when there is eye contact. It is the same when you take their pictures. The lower your subject is, the lower you stoop to be at eye level even if they are seated. Don't wait for your subject to stare full at the camera. Just being at the eye level already brings to the picture their more engaging faces and poses.
- Go closer for smaller subjects. Go closer before you zoom in. Get so close you have filled in the picture frame with your subject. You will see clearly some subtle expressions and minute details. Stop at the point when all these become blurry. You are then too close. You may have a setting in your menu for upper close and it really works.
- Study your background. Choose one that will tell the story of your subject. When the background is too busy, the picture will have no focus and just be a blah. Also be aware of poles, wires, garbage and signs like, "your high ..peed internet" (yes...really) on top of your friend's head. Unless, of course, you want his head right there!
- Put your subject off center. Center stage is not the place for people unless you have Karsh pretensions. Focus your camera and put your subject on left, right or one of the corners. When your camera focuses automatically, lock the focus or it will focus on the center of your picture frame and not your subject. When you lock the focus, you will sharpen your picture of your subject off-center. And if you choose the right background, somehow your picture will tell a story, of the world your subject was playing with right then...of their reaction to that scene and maybe a little peek at their character.
- Study the light. Next priority after good, thoughtful composition in your picture is how you work with light. Light is the photographer's palette. As the sun moves, the world changes. Shadows and colours bend and weave and really change the mood of what you are seeing. Study the light in your composition. Don't forget your shadows. They can really create drama in your picture. Know your flash range so you can use it more effectively. Use flash not just indoors but outdoors as well. You can take out shadows on faces or capture the mood outdoors. Often, your digital camera enables you to review options before you click so go for these options and just click the ones that have some promise. For landscapes, morning or evening are best. The sun overhead gives nothing but light. Borrrrringgggg! You have great shadows in the morning and late in the day and you may just capture the sunset of a lifetime or the mood of a passing day.
- Take some vertical pictures. Don't get so taken up with clicking that you forget to play with your camera. Sometimes, especially when height is involved, taking vertical pictures enhances the scenes.
To have sharp and expressive pictures, you need to improve as a picture director. Go for surprise. Take the shot and then say...ready!