How to Take Good Pictures
My Dad’s always been an early adopter of gadgets so we got our first video camera when I was around eight years old (he rented it because back then you couldn’t afford them!) I wanted it in my hands so badly! As the years went on, he bought one, and then a better one, and then a better one. I remember being a sophomore in college when we got our first digital video camera. I was up all night playing with it. The exhilaration of what I could do with it gave me this rush. I wanted to take good pictures and video immediately. But it takes a lot of practice. But with these three tips you’ll learn how to take good pictures with a few easy changes!
I’ve always taken video and photographs. I can edit and I make so many video stories of our family trips or my kids school events. I wish I could share them with you but my husband and I have agreed to keep them private. But I love to tell the story of our lives visually.
While I am by no means a professional photographer, I am a shutter bug and aim to get better each year with how my photographs look. I never aim for perfection. I do however, aim to capture the moment, my interpretation of it and simply work on how to take good pictures.
No new equipment needed or special settings. All of these apply to your cell phone, too!
Tip #1: Interaction
Body language says so much. If you saw a photograph of someone with their arms folded across their body and a foot of space between them and another person, would you think they are friends? Probably not. They probably look more like co-workers, or newly introduced people, or members of your family who don’t get along with. Ha! I kid, I kid….but you can feel the relationship in their posture and pose.
The same is true when you’re either photographing your kids or posing for a family photo. To take good pictures, interaction and touching is key. Simply by snuggling in close, touching your head to your husbands head, or having your children put their arms around each other the entire emotion of the photograph changes.
“Stand there and smile” doesn’t always get a great photograph. While it may capture their outfit, it probably doesn’t tell the story of the moment. Have them interact or if you’re in the photo with you, you interact with them. Get outside of the stiffness. Even if they are fighting – that’s hysterical! Well, to me it is. I have so many photos framed in our home where are kids are crying or fighting. It reminds me of the good, the bad and the ugly and I find humor in them (now!)
When I was in my sister’s wedding and we were taking our group photos, the photographer always said “love, love, love!” before taking the photo. She wanted us to get tighter and get closer to each other! It made us giggle and squeeze in and guess what? The warmth of those photos is palpable. Plus she made us laugh with her “love, love, love” so the shots captured genuine smiles. To this day my husband says those three words when we get ready to smile. And they result in great photos like this because it makes me giggle every time!
Here are some before and after photos to demonstrate how I learned how to take good pictures:
Tip #2: Look Behind Your Family
No, I don’t mean look at the behinds of your family, silly. But I do want you to look what’s behind them. Is it a crowded street? Are there cars? Is it an ugly building? All of that effects your photographs. Awareness of where you are and what you’re taking a photo of is key when learning how to take good pictures. You want people to see your subject, not the clutter. Chances are you’re standing right next to a far better background. Take a second to look around you and see if you can find a clean wall. Look for a less crowded environment, or something that better showcases where you are!
If you’re taking photos of your daughter in ballet class, don’t take one after the class when she’s in the lobby. Sneak into the studio and have her stand next to a simple bar and wall.
If you’re in a parking lot, look for trees or patch of grass – anything to give you a prettier picture than smack dab in the middle of cars. By “cleaning up your workspace” the focus can be on your children or friends and not the yucky stuff distracting the eye in the background. This will immediately up your game to take good pictures.
Let’s look at some examples of how I took photos of my kids. We are in the same location, I just asked them to take a few steps over to get a better shot!
Tip #3: Change Your Viewpoint
If my father-in-law is reading this he’s groaning right now. He’s an excellent photographer, and could even be considered a professional but he photographs landscapes, not people. Totally different. I’ll never forget getting ready to go to the hospital to deliver our boys and he snapped one photo of me and got down really low to focus on the belly up to my smiling, anxious face. I was like “what are you doing? I already have three chins from being pregnant I don’t want more!” Ha! I teased him (maybe more than that – I was 36 weeks pregnant with twins and highly over it) and made him change his angle to make me look at least a bit less large and in charge!
Next time you’re photographing your children:
- Move closer to them. Physically move your body. The zoom isn’t your friend for most standard cameras, especially cell phones.
- Don’t stand over them and look down – unless you want a lovely shot of their heads! Think about what who your subject is and what you want to share.
- Get down eye level with them or slightly above. It’ll change the whole feel of the shot.
- Don’t be afraid to capture moments that aren’t the perfect smiling shot. Sometimes sneaking up on them when they are in the zone tells the story more than a smiling face.
Here are some before and after photos I’ve taken to demonstrate:
For the hammock, I wanted the focus on their laughing faces.
Cute photo on left, but the right makes you feel more emotion of her getting lost in her world.
No smiling faces, but plenty of story in the photograph!