I love taking pictures of people. I always have, but over the years I have picked up a few tips on how to take great pictures. Pictures that tell a story. Pictures that make you smile. Pictures that you remember. Here are my 5 best tips:
1 Set up your camera before you get there
A lot of people get nervous about having their picture taken.
Some don't - happy days. But most do so get the camera sorted first:
Full memory card,
Correct iso setting (400 at least),
Shutter priority for movement, or
-Apeture priority for shallow depth of field but a stationary model, or
-Automatic for ease.
Focussing set according to whether the model is still or moving
Multiple exposures or single - your choice
That means you and your model. If you are feeling tense then so will your model (and by model I mean the person you want to photograph, professional models are easy). So, before you point a camera into their face have a chat about them. Not about you, your disastrous journey to the shoot, your breakfast or whatever. Talk to them. Engage with them. Smile. Find out something that they love and get them talking. Smile, get that? Smile. While still chatting pick up your camera and start to get ready, maintain eye contact and let them know what you are doing, 'I'm just checking the settings,' or ' I'll need a couple of minutes to set this up, ok?'
3 Give them instructions
Lots of people freeze in front of a camera. Their hands become lumps of clay hanging by their sides, their eyes start getting shifty because they don't know what to look at. Be kind, tell them what to do. It's not bossy, it's a life-line. And remember no-one wants a bad photo of themselves so they want to trust you. A photographer is everyone's friend!
Ask them to put them in their pockets, or
Carry something, a favourite garden tool, some vegetables a bottle of beer
If they are seated, they can cup their face with them.
STANDING or SITTING
Work out a way to make them look good, side on often works best, with the upper torso
twisted towards the camera. Again, talk it through, show them and give them reassurance throughout.
Ask them to walk away from the camera and back-or towards the camera-walking takes your mind off the camera, a bit.
Ask them to look down and up - then click. You often get a more relaxed picture when they are not fixated by the lens.
PUT THEM IN CONTEXT
Ask them to do something they maybe do for a living-is it part of the story?
Think of a few tricks like this yourself, you will work some out that you feel comfortable with.
When its working-TELL THEM. People respond to positive comments particularly if it's something they are new to.
Give them something to think about. If they are uncomfortable looking into the camera suggest they do it and think of something they love to do, or someone they love, or a funny incident that happened to them.
Most of all ...
Work with them. If something isn't working - say so, and offer an alternative, 'No I don't think that's quite right, how about this...', or stand next to them and show them.
If they really find it difficult to get into, stop and work on something else, this gives you time to continue to put them at ease and go back to it. You'll be surprised at how relaxed they become the more they feel relaxed with you.
4 Click away
Take lots of pictures. I can take 8 out of 10 good pictures of a garden but maybe only 1 out of 20 of a person. Their expressions change constantly and you need to try different poses, and positions.
Ask them not to talk (this is a tough one, as most people talk through nerves), or wait till they are not talking before you shoot. If someone is with you ask them not to talk to the model while you are working. You are the only person who should be talking. Why? Because when you capture a person talking when being photographed their face is contorted into all sorts of odd shapes hint-if you tell them this their lips will be sealed.
5 Enjoy it
If you are enjoying it then they will start to relax and enjoy it too.
ps No bright sunlight-soft light is more flattering.
©Lynn Keddie 2012
How many times have I heard these words, answers on a postcard...
'My computer's died, can I get my photos back?'
...and how many times have I said this,
'Do you have a backup?'
OK, I know, if you had a backup you wouldn't ask the question. Backing up your data is like breathing. If you care about your work/memories/special occasions you
JUST DO IT
So when the inevitable happens, and it does to EVERYONE,
and you don't have backups, because you...
meant to but just didn't get round to it, or
you weren't quite sure where to begin or, you
thought that there was some magic somewhere that would restore everthing and it wouldn't cost you a penny...
then you will feel like this...
So here are a few simple ways of backing up your photos...
STUFF YOU DON'T WANT TO LOSE ... EVER
(this works for documents too)
I'm assuming that you regularly download your photos from your camera/phone?
OK, I know you don't.
Now start doing it.
You can keep photos (only jpegs) on Flickr or other image sharing sites
You can buy space in 'The Cloud' (slow to upload in a lot of cases and you may pay more for uploads), or,
you can do it locally.
Put them in a folder on your computer (call the folder something useful like: 'Billies sportsday 2012'), in a file called 'photos' or 'my life', or 'my life won't be worth living if i LOSE this', OK?
Now you have two copies, one on your camera/phone and one on your computer.
don't delete the stuff on your camera/phone yet, then you'll only have one copy...again...
Get a CD (only copy's a small amount of data only useful for a few Jpegs)
or a DVD (stores a few TB of data good for storing Raw and Tiff files)
or, if you have the technology, Blu ray, (stores lots of data.)
Then copy your new folder onto that, label it with the same name as the original folder 'Billies sportsday 2012' and file it in a hard case, somewhere darkish and cool, ie not on a windowsill above radiator, gathering dust with old mail and 'things to put away'
DVD's etc are not fool proof (nothing is). They can get corrupted, scratched, lost fairly easily.
'Now you're telling me! why have I wasted time on this method then?'
Because they are relativey cheap-around 30p each, and portable and you are going to to more.
Now you have 3 copies, you can delete the one on your camera/phone to free up space and to stop yourself getting confused (I know, I do it too)
Now you have 2, one on the internal hard drive of your computer and one on a bit of plastic. Great!
Now, go and buy an external hard drive. Get the BIGGEST you can afford,
You can never have too much memory, memory is like shoes.
These days memory is cheap. You can get 1tb for £50-£100 in today's market (2014) And it's
getting cheaper (and bigger) all the time.
Now these are boring to look at (unlike shoes) but easy to use. You can mostly buy them so that you plug them into your hard drive, give them a power source and you're good to go. Open up your Computer icon and your new drive (with a very unimaginitive name-like D or P or Q), will pop up in the list of drives (you can change the name if you right click and go onto properties).
Now all you need to do is drag your folder 'Billies sports day 2012' from it's source file (PHOTOS or whatever) and drop it into a your new drive. BINGO.
Now you have 3 copies, so if one of them gets corrupted/lost/broken, you have 2 back-ups, and you can re-create a third again.
EASY PEESIE, LEMON SQUEEZIE
That took, a few minutes to write a DVD, a few minutes to copy files to the external hard drive and cost around 30p for a DVD and £50 for a 1tb hard drive.
OK you could have bought a pair of shoes for £50 but this baby will last you this long...
A hi-res jpeg is around 14 megapixel so you could fit loads of images on it,
...and what price are memories?
..and, now you look like this!
Lynn Keddie ©2012 (updated 2014)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.