Take Better Pictures (Part 1)

June 14, 2014

The motto of RC Slaughter Photography is to "Live everyday.  Love those around you.  Cherish every memory."  I would like this blog to reflect that and in true RCSP fashion, I thought I would share a few photography tips.  Before I share these classified secrets though, I do ask a few things of you... 

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I've been taking photographs for a few years and learned a lot along the way. With the information-age upon us, I have also been helped by my fellow photographers. I thought, why not share a few of the things I've learned?

Here are a few tips to taking better portraits of your kids, friends, pets, etc.

  1. Get closer.
    Probably one of the most important lessons I have learned is to get closer to the subject.  I have learned that good photos have great impact and one way to get it is to take one or two steps closer than you normally would.  Not only can this help your subject stand out, it helps you to fill the frame (picture).  The brain oftentimes perceives things from near to far and light to dark. Get closer examples.

  2. Change your perspective. Get higher, get lower.
    The average adult looks down on his shorter child. Photos tend to have more impact when they are taken from a different perspective than the viewer is used to seeing. Sometimes this means crouching or laying down on the ground. Othertimes it means you should find a ladder.  A different perspective can make all the difference.  Change your perspective examples.

  3. Know your camera.
    This isn't a deal breaker, but if you know the basics about your camera, it will help you take more of the “keeper” shots. Along these same lines, you don't need a super-expensive camera to take good pictures. I recommend a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) as it will give you the ability to change lenses and settings, but it does you no good if its too big to carry with you or if you don't know a few basic settings. The best camera is the one you have. Just about any camera can take good pictures, all it takes is a little know how. Books have been written on this topic, but I will ask simply, does your camera have a “portrait” mode or “aperture priority” mode? Using this will help you get a creamy out of focus background (more on this in part 2). Know your equipment examples.

  4. Backgrounds matter.
    Backgrounds are as important if not more important than the subject of your photo. There is nothing worse than getting home and realizing that you've been photobombed by a random person, a wild animal, or a poorly placed object. I make it a habit to look through the lens at the background to make sure that there aren't any distracting elements. Background examples.

  5. Really look at your subject.
    Just as important as the background are distracting elements in the foreground. Does your subject have sunglasses on? Maybe that's fine, maybe its not. Are buttons undone or is the hair too out of place? Personally I'm not a huge fan of overly staged photos so I try not to interfere much but sometimes the best facial expression in the world can't overcome an embarrassing distraction. Really look example.

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