Want to take better photos at home? Everyday moments at home or at the park with your family can be some of the best moments to capture. A professional photographer can’t follow you around all the time, but these five tips on how to take better photos with your camera will help you capture memorable moments! Whether you are using an iPhone camera a point and shoot or DSLR - these tips will all help you take better photos.
Before you take the photo, check to see where the light is coming from. Paying attention to the light is one of the key elements to getting good photographs. Small changes to where your subject - whether it be a child or your pet - is in relation to the light can make a tremendous improvement to the final photo.
If you are indoors you don’t want the light coming from behind the subject of your photograph. For example, you wouldn’t want to have a sliding glass door with daylight streaming in behind your child when taking the picture. This will lead to their face and the details you want to capture being shadow and more silhouetted.
Instead, position yourself before taking the picture so the light is coming towards them or to the side of them. This will light them very nicely with natural light and make sure what you want lit - your child or pet’s face - is easily seen and not hidden by shadow.
When photographing children or pets outdoors, the best light is the first hour in the morning or the hour towards sunset - golden hour. But it isn't always possible to photograph then (I mean, family picnics are usually mid-day or late afternoon, right?). For those situations open shade can be your friend. Look for areas of shade and take your pictures there to minimize the harsher contrast of the bright sun at mid-day.
Watch your background when taking photos - indoors or outdoors. This is a hard one as when you’re taking a photo your attention is on your child or pet and you aren’t thinking about the background. But a background without distracting elements will help keep your viewer’s attention on the subject you want and not on annoying elements in the background.
What’s a distracting background? It could be a counter cluttered with dishes that haven’t been put away or a table with books stacked on it and glasses left over from dinner. Or something that when placed behind the child or pet looks like something is jutting out of their head.
A small step or two to the left or the right or maybe crouching down will change the composition and possibly hide the distracting background elements with minimal effort resulting in a cleaner photo
I will add a caveat that sometimes the background is adding context to the picture. Make it a conscious choice though as to whether the background is adding to the story of the image or detracting from it.
Move closer to your child or pet when you photograph them! Fill the frame with your subject. You’ll be amazed at the difference this tip can make in capturing some great photos!
Being closer helps take care of any background clutter issues (see above), but it also helps place emphasis on what you are trying to photograph. For example, if you are taking a picture of your dog, get in there close and fill the frame with your dog!
A bonus tip for phone camera users - don’t use the pinch to zoom feature of your phone to fill the frame - but actually physically move closer to what you are photographing or the 1x or 2x option!
If you use pinch to zoom your phone will start to use what’s called digital zoom instead of optical zoom. Digital zoom will often degrade the quality of your image compared to an optical zoom. So choose the 1x or 2x option on your phone camera and if you need to fill the frame more - move closer to your subject - you’ll get a better quality image.
We all love to photograph our children and pets. But all too often we stand at our height and end up photographing them from our higher perspective. This can also apply if you are standing and photographing adults that are seated.
Crouch down and get on your subject’s eye level. This makes a huge difference in perspective and will instantly take your photo from looking like a snapshot to something more.
Kids playing on the floor? Get down on the floor and photograph them at their eye level. Dog laying on their bed? Get down on the floor and take the image at their eye level.
Photograph moments of emotion! This can be tricky as it takes good timing but it is so worth being patient to capture the emotion in addition to the scene. And emotion doesn’t always have to be big smiles - sometimes it is moments of boredom, frustration, surprise, and more.
Here’s a few quick tips for capturing emotion.
Avoid prompting - just let the moment play out.
Photograph frequently and keep shooting. (For example, if you child is opening presents, take several pictures so you can capture peak emotion - you probably won’t use 95% of the pictures - but the ones that are keepers will be excellent!)
Anticipate the peak of emotion and take the photo then
I hope you’ve found these tips for taking better photos at home helpful! Keep practicing them and soon they will all become more natural to you and your everyday pictures will become more than just snapshots!
Want to learn more about your camera and how to take better photos? Check out the Education tab of my website for both workshops and one-on-one mentoring!