We all have, or have taken ourselves most likely, a candid photograph that we love. It’s a snapshot of a moment in time. With all the available devices we have it’s so easy to capture that and have it to look back upon any time. It can draw back good memories and good feelings, and overall, the feelings we get from a good snapshot can sometimes make us believe the photo itself is GOOD. Well is it?
We tend to overlook things is a photograph when it’s a memory keeper item. For instance, if you are caught laughing like crazy with your best friend will it matter to you that your skin tone isn’t right, or your hair has sunspots on it? Do you care if your nose looks huge in the photo? Probably not. And should you? Probably not. Snapshots are uncomposed moments in time – flashes of memory – and they don’t have to be technically correct. So “liking” a photograph that isn’t perfect is perfectly acceptable.
But if you want to take better images, think about a few basic things BEFORE you push the button.
Look closely at your recent snapshots – just head over to your Facebook page or your camera phone and pull up the most recent shots you have. Look at how the subjects are standing in your photos. Where is the light coming from? Did you have a flash that went off? Where were you standing when you took the image? Above, below, or right in front of the subject? How does YOUR position affect the way the subject looks?
Taking a photo from a lower perspective can be a very creative way to showcase certain subjects. But do it with a person and you will usually find it elongates some part of their body – like their legs. And it’s made ten times worse when you take the photo with a wide angle zoom. Why is it? Think about it – and look at your photos. Why do you think it happens? Is it complimentary to the subject? What does the eye see first in the photo?
And the opposite – when you photograph someone from above THIER heads – do they look shorter, or taller? And why? And when would that be a good angle to use with a subject? Can it be used to compliment certain features or characteristics? Or even to hide some?
Now think about light – what direction is the ambient light coming from? Did you put your subjects back to the sun? If so, what effects do you see from doing so? If you put them sideways to the sun – what happens? Where do you “see” the light? Where are your shadows and are they used effectively – or are they hiding the things you want to see? And the opposite – if you took your photo in bright sunlight – did the resulting image have problems with the sun highlighting so much hair or skin that you “blew out” the tones? (that’s what happens when so much light hits something the camera can’t turn it into any color value – so it registers as a bright spot in your photo. Not very complimentary if it’s the side of your face or the top of your head, by the way.
I remind you of this – the eye will always go to the lightest value in a photograph FIRST. Will it be your face? Or a large expense of thigh? Or the skin “blow out” on the entire right side of your face? Which is more flattering?
I hope you’ll stop to think about how your subject is sitting or standing – in both the relationship to the pose and the light – BEFORE you press the button. Of course, you can always delete.