Thursday, November 12, 2009

People Take Good Pictures Not Cameras

I have learned quite a bit about photography in the last few years. Sure, like most people I can just point the camera and shoot and hope for the best. But I am now beyond that, I expect more from my photos. I want to capture a memory in time forever. That is the most amazing part of photography. Over the last few years I have really worked on portraiture and I will admit I like to show off pictures of my kids....they are awfully cute. A few times in the past when I am showing off the viewer has remarked that I must have a good camera. I then stop to think about it for a moment....I do have a good camera, but they did not produce the good shots, I did! Of course I don’t want to come off as a snob so I just smile and nod yes. Those of us who are photography addicts know that the camera does play a big role of your image quality, but composing a good photo it does not. That job is left up to the person behind the camera.
You can spend thousands of dollars on the best camera out there. You can buy all the accessories such as lenses, filters and the list goes on. But all that gear will not create a great do it....the person behind the camera. It starts with vision, an eye for scenery and some imagination. Here are a few tips that will help you “see a photo”.

1. Inspiration. You can be inspired by anything, even something as simple as a coffee cup.  Sometimes it can be my mood. Am I happy or sad, angry? I may then choose to ‘create’ an image that depicts my feelings. I know, how totally EMO of me! I see potential photos everywhere, a man waiting for a bus and chatting with other commuters. Or a flower in a field with the light casting a lovely glow over it. In both cases I “see” a great picture.

2. Be spontaneous. I love taking candid shots of kids. They are a constant source of entertainment and photographic possibilities. Unlike adults, they don’t filter their reaction to seeing a camera. Many of them strike a pose immediately, some may be shy and you will have to work harder at getting a good shot. You may have to get down to their level, you may have to crawl around in the dirt, but the outcome will be so much more rewarding. Take a shot when your subject is looking directly at you....but don’t think that if they aren’t posing for the camera that you shouldn’t shoot, sometimes they are the best portraits.
Whether posed or candid, you can capture genuine personality in your image. Try to avoid the ‘cheese’ smile; they just are not as authentic or memorable.

3. Scenic and landscape pictures are everywhere. We often take for granted what is right in our own back yard and don’t see the lovely vistas waiting to be photographed.You don’t need to visit Tuscany (although that certainly would be nice) or sitting on a tropical beach to capture great landscapes. Sometimes the tree on the hill down the street will make the best shot! Sunrises and sunsets as well as trees, plants, birds, wildlife, vistas, hills and so on all make great landscape shots. The possibilities are endless.

4. Then there are the man made subjects, such as architecture. Look for buildings with interesting lines, height or fancy features. Shoot from different angles. Churches, old barns, and abandoned houses are a constant source of inspiration. The architectural detail can be captured and you would be amazed at how much you love those shots. The other type of man made subjects can be used in Still Life photography. This is when you ‘set up a scene’ with anything from a bowl of fruit to a row of bottles. Still life can be a very creative way to photograph.

5. Always bring your camera with you. I keep a small point and shoot in my purse so I don’t always have to lug around my DSLR and lenses. Any subject, any item, can make for a great photo. Those hydro lines running through the field may be ugly when not seen with a creative eye. Just stop, pull out your camera and snap a few may be pleasantly surprised.

6. Look for a different perspective. Get low on the ground, lie on your back or stomach. Climb up a ladder. It is amazing how a simple change in perspective can make an image pop!

All of the above tips are not difficult to do. They are easy. It is really just about changing the way you think when it comes to taking photos. These tips will also help you create more outstanding photographs. So save your money, keep the small point and shoot and try this for a while. If you find that you get bitten by the photography bug....then upgrade your camera.

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