So, you’ve purchased your first DSLR camera, have you? You most likely read the manual, watched tutorials, asked your fellow photographer friends for tips. And still, you are reluctant to experiment with your new purchase. Do you find it easier to just use the Auto function? You don’t even take the camera out with you because you find it too difficult and somewhat embarrassing to fiddle around with various settings? This guide on the best entry level DSLR tips for photographers just starting out. [Read more…]
One of the most important features you need to consider when talking about photography is light. Once you have your subject you need to think about light and then about all the other parameters, especially when it comes to indoor photography.
In the following article you will find some the best tips on indoor photography that you can start using today.
There is not much you can use when you are shooting indoors or au contraire, there is too much. If you consider starting your own business as a professional photographer you must explore everything and see what you are actually good at. Although you may think that an expert photographer is good at taking any types of pictures, you might be surprised on how an awesome portrait photographer can be considered average when it comes to landscape photography.
The secret behind every successful story is finding what you are good at and just go with it.
So enough with the small talk, here are some things you need to take into consideration when shooting something or someone, indoors.
1. Every photograph tells a story
Some of the best photographs that have ever been taken were spontaneous. You don’t need to think all things through before taking the best photograph, if you are not conducting a professional photo shoot. For example, if someone approaches you and asks you for an indoor portrait photography photo shoot, the first thing you need to do is to try finding out something about the person.
You have to be in harmony with the subject of your photograph and understand what he/she expects from you and your photography skills if you want to reach perfection. If you are not necessarily taking a picture of someone, but of a something, you have only one point of view: yours, so be careful on what you are trying to say with your photograph.
2. Light, Light and again, Light
The biggest struggle you will face when trying to shoot a portrait photograph indoors is with light. If you are shooting during day time, you must certainly find a window and place your subject close to it, so that you can make the most out of the natural light you have. To control all the shadows and curves you should also consider investing in a reflector. By placing a reflector on the side of your subject, opposite to the side with natural light, you can obtain stunning effects. Things will get even trickier when you are shooting without any or very low natural light. One way to try solving this problem by using Lightscoop, a great little mirror which redirects the light from your pop-up flash so that you can obtain warmer images, without making your skin look like you just won the casting for the next Twilight movie.
3. Know your camera as good as you know yourself
Many people do not even bother to understand their cameras before or after purchasing it. You would be amazed on how many options and features you have. Before starting to shoot any kind of photographs, take some time and understand your camera and what it is able to do.
When shooting indoors, background is also important. To make the best out of an indoor photography, try choosing white backgrounds, so that the light can be reflected and you can achieve a great result. If you do not have an entirely white background, try emphasizing the subject on whatever background you choose but be careful on the contrast. You do not want a chaotic background, especially not when it comes to indoor photography, because then you will lose your subject. Another idea is taking black and white pictures so that the people do not get distracted by the background or pieces of clothing and stay focused on the subject.
It is important to use a wide aperture especially for indoor photography because you want to make the most out of the light you have. A wide aperture not only gives you a better photograph on low light level but it also creates a shallow depth of field with will help you subject pop out of any cluttered background.
There are a lot of mixed reviews when it comes to ISO and shutter speed. Some photographers say that in low light levels you can use a higher ISO, mainly between 800 and 1600 if you want to achieve a fast shutter speed and take advantage of the light you do have. However, higher ISO means a lot more noise in the photograph so other photographers say that you should not use an ISO level higher than 800 especially when shooting indoors. If you have reached ISO 800 and you are still not fully satisfied with your picture, you should probably try either going to ISO 1600 or play with artificial sources of light such as your flash or a reflector.
Find the perfect indoor photography spot in your house. It can be the kitchen, especially if you have a lot of natural light coming in and white walls or cabinets, it can be your living room if it has more light or more white than your kitchen or even your bathroom, it does not matter as long as you have the key element: light. Try taking pictures all around your house and see which spot is the best for indoor shooting.
8. Understand what and why you are shooting
Even if you are shooting at home, in the supermarket, in your car or any other indoor location, if you want people to understand the story you are trying to tell with your photographs you must first understand it yourself. If you understand exactly what you or your subjects want from your photograph, it will be that much easier to shoot a photograph which speaks for itself.
These were 8 great tips on how to make the best out of a photograph, even if you shoot it indoors.
What other indoor photography tips do you have or use?
You can never be too cautious when it comes to taking photographs in nature, but you should not let cautiousness get in the way of you and your perfect shot. Try mixing both of them and achieve perfection when it comes to wildlife and nature photography.
There are many things you should consider before putting on your backpack, grabbing your camera and just march into your backyard. To come to your aid and help you out on your journey to being a great photographer, here are 8 great tips on wildlife and nature photography.
1. Pick a theme or a topic
You can choose different seasons, a certain color or even a category of animals such as insects, mammals or birds. It is important to have a certain theme or topic already figured out before actually starting shooting everything, everywhere because this way you have something to focus on and you are more likely to accomplish a goal if you actually have one. Moreover, by shooting a lot of pictures of the same object, animal or category of either objects or animals, you can find which pictures are better, under what conditions and you can actually try finding out what is the influence behind the pictures that are better.
2. Know your camera and what it can do
I cannot stress enough on this subject. It is hugely important to know what your camera is capable of, sometimes even before actually purchasing it. There is much more to photography than simply point and shoot and there are a lot of functions and features that you should know abut such as ISO, Aperture, Exposure, Shutter Speed, Macro and so on. Learn how you can use all the feature your camera has into your own benefit.
3. Dress for the occasion
Try finding out where you want to go after you have decided what you are going to shoot. This is important because you have to be prepared for any type of weather conditions. Do you need hiking boots and a rain coat or flip flops and sun-block? These are all factors that can influence your photographs and photography skills so you should definitely take them into consideration.
4. A tripod is your best friend
If you want to shoot landscapes without having to worry about blurry pictures due to shaky hands, you should consider bringing a tripod – especially if you are going with the raincoat rather than the sun-block. A tripod and the perfect filter are a badass combination which can easily make an average quality picture look a hundred times better. However, if you are going for wildlife shooting, a tripod might not come in that handy since you have to be part of an animal’s environment if you want great pictures.
5. Be part of the animal’s environment
It is settled – if you want great wildlife pictures you must not be afraid of getting your hands dirty. You cannot expect an animal to stay still while you take 100+ pictures of it and then try to pick the best ones. Let’s face it, you often get only one chance to a perfect shot, so you have to make the best of it.
If you see an interesting animal you want to shoot, before grabbing your camera and make a 2 foot leap to it, think. What is the animal doing? Is it feeding, running for its life or just chilling around? Is there any way you can get closer without scaring it off? Is the animal dangerous for you or your gear? These are all important questions you need to ask yourself before putting you or your camera in danger.
6. Focus points
One thing many people involved in the artistic field do not know is the fact that a central focus point can be tiring to the human eye. In order to obtain photographs which are aesthetically pleasing to the eye you have to check out the rule of thirds. For this rule, you need four lines.
Two of these lines divide your photograph into equal thirds – length wise while the other two divide it into equal thirds width – wise. You will obtain four intersection points between these lines and by focusing your subject in one or two of those points, you will reach perfection when it comes to focus.
7. Zoom in and get close
A good quality optical zoom on your camera is definitely very useful, especially when it comes to wildlife and nature photography. You do not always get the chance to get as close as you would want to a certain animal or flower, so your zoom might prove to be the best tool you have.
Another great tip which can prove useful especially if you cannot zoom in as much as you would want is using a pair of binoculars. Simply put your camera lens at one of the eyepieces and allow your camera to focus before taking the picture. Moreover, if you spin your binoculars, you have instant macro lens. Do not expect a high quality but it is certainly better than using your digital zoom.
8. All about light
There is something called “the golden hour” when it comes to wildlife and nature photography. This “hour” which can sometimes actually be hours is the period of time around sunrise or sunset, when light appears golden because of the atmosphere. Some photographers even say that this is the only time you should take wildlife photographs since in the middle of the day, your camera will most likely struggle with the bright spots and different shadows. However, there is something beautiful about photographs even if they are not taken during the golden periods of time if you know how to take advantage of the light.
Avoid taking pictures directly into sunlight as you will not be able to understand anything of that picture. Instead, try finding some shade and make the most out of all the natural light you have at hand. Try using the sun as if you would use a reflector and find sources that can reflect sunlight, such as water or even wet leaves. Take some time and study the environment to see how and where light is reflected before considering taking the perfect shot.
What other tips or techniques do you use for your wildlife or nature photographs?
Talking about something as definite as “best photographers “ can be more than a little bold, if truth be told, since the visual arts in general and photography in particular are so highly subjective that picking absolutes is impossible. But since we’re not claiming to choose the best photographers of all time, but only a few select ones which caught our eye since last year and the months that passed from this one, we dared to give it a go.
1. Davina Palik and Daniel Kudish
This couple of photographers, based in Montreal and Ottawa, specialize in wedding photography, taking beautiful pictures of couples around the world on their big day. Although wedding photography seem to be a field where you can’t improvise all that much, at least not in a completely innovate or shocking way, these two are some of the best photographers out there precisely because they can demonstrate the contrary.
Take a look at their superb portfolio here and see for yourself how fresh wedding photography can actually be with Davina and Daniel behind the camera. We especially love the occasionally funny moments captured, because one rarely gets to see something funny and romantic at the same time.
2. Spencer Murphy
For the portrait photography niche, our favorite is Spencer Murphy, one of the best photographers in Britain, in our humble opinion. We especially like the serious air of his portraits, because sometimes, there’s just more to the realm of photography themes than autumn foliage (not that there’s anything wrong with being into that). Pictured above, you can admire the portrait of a female jump jockey right after the jump (part of a wider series of specialized portrait, which won him impressive awards).
You can take a better look at this photo series of his here.
3. Rafael Marchante
This brilliant photographer from Portugal has reached a famous professional status on numerous websites after this iconic photograph of his was widely distributed in the aftermath of Nelson Mandela’s death. He managed to capture the spirit of the African leader’s legacy in a unique photograph of a well-made graffiti that was serious and playful and full of great impact all at the same time. His niche is taking pictures of seemingly banal street situations and homeless people, as opposed to most of our visitors who are mostly taking pictures of clients, but his images are a great inspiration nonetheless.
Take a look at his Facebook page here to browse some of the most amazing portraits you’ll ever see.
4. Camilla de Mafei
This brilliant Italian lady truly deserves a spot in the best photographers of recent years. Her work is hard to put into just one box, as she seems to move effortlessly through landscape photography, sad and eerie portrait photography or still life shots.
Her official website, where you can browse more of her photos, is here.
5. Michael Roud
One of the best photographers of Los Angeles, Michael Roud isn’t exactly a recent entry in the field of famous photography, but his works remain so edgy and impeccable that we couldn’t finish this list without him. Mostly into headshots (but also into wedding photography), he also impresses with his work as a director and with collaborations with celebrities. The one certainty about the work of this incredibly talented guy is that getting photographed by him is certainly an honor and privilege.
His official website and portfolio can be admired at will here.
These were, according to us, the best photographers of the recent years which you should check out every now and then for an inspiration bonus. All in all, there’s no improving your own skills without also getting familiarized with the work of as many photographers as possible, and they might as well be worthy of the attention.
Becoming a good photographer takes more than just hard work, mechanical knowledge of the basic know-hows and the investment of time and money. None of these things are easy to give, of course, especially if you’re striving to make the transition from an amateur to a pro while also maintaining an unrelated job and investing all your extra money in new gear and props to fuel your still not so lucrative hobby. But that little extra we’re talking about could be equated to the unquantifiable spark of talent, or confidence, or creativity which your work will eventually need to stand out from the crowd. Put in more technical and less romantic terms, in order to develop this sixth sense in photography and obtain better results, you need to experiment more with your work. Here are 5 ways to start.
Experiment more with the camera settings
As we mentioned earlier, it’s always a good idea to keep playing with your camera’s settings and discover new ways to make them work for the situation at hand. Nothing will give your imagination stronger wings than knowing every last effect obtainable from every last setting on your camera. Once you get to know them all and to know how your camera reacts to every possible combination of settings, you can experiment more in creative ways for pleasantly surprising effects.
Try new angles of viewing things
When approaching your usual subjects, establish your normal, go-to viewing angle and then try 2 or three completely different ones. You may be surprised of what you discover if you allow yourself to experiment more with the angles. The results may be better than what your usual approach would have produced, or, even if not, can prove to be valuable lessons in how you’ll perceive space through your lens.
Take photos of things out of your comfort zone
After you experiment more with the angles, it’s time to temporarily change your usual subjects as well. Try photographing things you wouldn’t normally think of photographing and see how your usual techniques are suitable or not for the new themes. We’re not suggesting you to go very far out of your comfort zone if you don’t want to (like to switch from wedding portraits to the morbid and grotesque), but trying something even a bit new as a subject can make you a better photographer once you return to your usual line of work.
Go wild with post-photo editing
Even if less is more when it comes to photo editing, you can play a bit with all the editor’s features just as you did with the camera settings. Even if the results are way over the top to count as decent pictures, if you experiment more with digital tools such as Photoshop or Picasa or whatever photo processing program you prefer, you will learn a great deal about what you can do with your photos in the future.
Try to work through the lens of another photographer for a short while
Every photographer, and especially the established ones, has their unique style, and trying to emulate it for a while can do you some good, even if it’s not a style you would like for yourself. Get familiar with two or three photographers who employ a very personal view, as different from each other as possible, and study their works. Then, for a week or so at a time, try to experiment more with your photos by channeling the style of each of them. Even if you won’t borrow anything from your muses on the long term, you will know yourself better as photographer by the end of this experiment and your enhanced knowledge will soon reflect positively in the quality of your photos.
Taking good photos is hard, though it may not seem like that from afar. When they actually agree that a photographer’s work is good, people are either saying “Oh gosh, look at that photographer, they have are so talented”, as if that elusive quality of talent has been magically bestowed upon the photographer by a well-meaning fairy godmother, or they are simply explaining it through the semi-professional equipment. I’m sure you’ve seen both these kinds of reactions, the latter kind also including the enthusiasm of a clueless person about investing in a camera way above their skills, expecting to somehow take pro-level pictures immediately after the said acquisition.
But all of us here probably know that becoming a photographer does not happen overnight and it takes work and learning. To that effect, here are 5 small tips you may not already know about how to improve your skills even if you’re still at the beginning of that journey from amateur to pro. As a disclaimer, we should probably mention that this post is for the beginners among us, so bear with it if you feel yourself too advanced for such meager small tips.
1. Look at other photographer’s works and even ask questions.
Don’t underestimate the value of being humble enough to ask for advice even if you’re not very sure what to ask. Also, even without asking anything, browsing as many photographic works as possible is the sole thing which can train your eye to detect what makes a picture good or bad, better or worse, or to notice when a professional is using a technique you might be interested in yourself. When you see something like this, ask away: you’d be surprised of how friendly people can be, and getting a few small tips from an established photographer can really make a difference.
2. Ask an untrained eye which version they prefer out of 2 or 3.
But don’t neglect the feedback you could get from a pair of well-meaning untrained eyes. Oftentimes, they see the same kind of things which your potential clients may see and you should take it into account if you want to seem like a good idea. So whenever you’re editing photos and would like some feedback, save some intermediary versions and ask a good non-photographer friend or one of your parents what they think about them.
3. Try Picasa or a basic contrast editor to train your hand at photo editing.
Speaking of photo editing, you should be careful not to overdo it. It’s true that most raw photos need a little fixing, but one of the best small tips you will ever hear is that less is more. To make sure you learn to do it moderately, start with an editing tool for beginners, like Picasa.
4. Avoid putting the focus/subject in the center of the photo.
Pictures which put the focus or the subject of their portrait right in the center have a decisively amateur air about them. Whatever you do and no matter how much of a beginner you really are or not, try to avoid this mistake. Of course, there’s no need to do the opposite and put the subject of the photo in a corner of it as that would be pretty annoying (unless it’s occasional and for artistic reasons). To get it right, look for an online tutorial about proper photo framing and focusing, you can find a lot of small tips on how to avoid the center in a non-obvious way.
5. Play with the settings as much as possible.
This is another piece of advice which may seem like a cliché to our more advanced users, but keep going out of your comfort zones and play with the settings on your camera as much as possible. There’s a common tendency among many beginner photographers, to finally find a configuration that works for them, save it and use it on every occasion thereafter. Remember what works, of course, but keep searching and trying, and you will soon understand your camera and your settings much better than you thought you did. This way, you will eventually come to a point where you can easily adjust them to the present situation and take the most mind-blowing photos possible. You’ll soon be in the position to offer some small tips to others on how to improve themselves, you’ll see.
It’s another one of those photographers’ nightmares that everyone has to deal with, sooner or later in their career. It usually tends to happen to beginner wedding photographers: you shoot the wedding, spend tons of time editing the pictures, then, one day, you get the dreaded call. The client hates your work. They are disappointed with it. They may even ask for their money back. What do you do? How do you deal with bad wedding photos? Here are 5 tips from actual wedding photographers, with enough experience in their portfolios to be speaking with the best of intentions.
1. Don’t dwell
This is the most important step in learning how to deal with bad wedding photos, unless you want to end up too scared to ever pick up a camera again. The past is in the past and you can’t reshoot a wedding. You can analyze what went wrong, enlist the aid of a very skilled photo editor and try to do as much damage control as possible. However, at the end of the day, all you can do is learn from your mistakes (as everyone does) and move forward.
2. Analyze & acknowledge
Perhaps the conditions in which you shot the wedding were harsh. Perhaps you lack the experience to handle the weather, the light, the temper tantrums thrown by the wedding party, or anything else. Maybe your compositions are bad. Try to pinpoint the causes, in order to deal with bad wedding photos. Understand what went wrong, but make sure to be as objective and detached as possible. It’s actually a good idea to sit down with said ruined set and a trusted fellow photographer and ask for their opinion. A second call could be what you need, in order to prevent you from doubting your professional abilities altogether.
3. Pay up… or not
Sometimes, when you are forced to deal with bad wedding photos, you must simply understand that some clients are out to get their money back. Nothing you say or do will feel like compensation enough for them, before you pay up. You can comply to any other request they make, edit and re-edit the photos until you turn blue in the face – they want their money back and that’s final. At this point, your options are those listed in the contract you signed with them. If the client has just cause to ask for their money back, both legally and ethically, there is little you can do but pay up. Whatever you do, don’t let yourself be bullied away from your money.
4. Get a second shooter, be a second shooter
The best way to learn wedding photography is by being a second shooter. Wedding photography pros recommend second shooting weddings for at least a year, before you attempt to go it on your own, as the main wedding photographer. Similarly, if you’re starting out as a main wedding photographer, it’s almost mandatory to enlist the aid of a second shooter you can trust. At the end of the day, they can make a world of difference, in terms of client satisfaction.
5. Trust your instinct
Lastly, the main takeaway, when you have to deal with bad wedding photos, is that you should always trust your gut when it comes to taking on a gig. If you feel you lack the experience and/or are worried the responsibility is too much for you to handle, find a gracious way to say no. You should never let a client pressure you into a booking, because chances are at the end of the day no one’s going to walk away happy – not you, nor the client.
The manual settings on your camera, if used right, can lead to far more marvelous photos than those done with the auto settings. It’s really quite unfortunate that most DLSR cameras come today with advanced auto settings, because it enables most users to postpone actually learning a thing or two about what the manual settings actually do and how they can be aligned to work together for perfect results. Don’t be one of those lazy would-be photographers who stick to the predefined options, as that will never lead to better than average photos. One of the first things you should learn to use better is the so-called triangle of camera exposure, composed of ISO, shutter speed and aperture. It can truly make the difference between average photos at best and good photos at least. But after learning more about those basics, the next thing which can influence your final photos for the better is your camera’s depth of field variable, a sub-setting within the aperture setting.
What is the Depth of Field?
The depth of field, usually abbreviated with an f-number, is something directly derived from the aperture of your camera. As a reminder, your camera’s aperture is the size of the hole within the lens, through which light travels to the inside of the camera. Considering that cameras are made following the model of the human eye, you could say that the aperture corresponds to the eye’s pupil, since they serve the same purpose of allowing light in. A bigger camera usually has a larger hole, and a smaller camera usually has a smaller hole. A larger hole equals a bigger aperture, while a smaller hole equals a lower aperture. The aperture of a camera is also expressed through an f number, with a higher number signifying a smaller aperture and vice-versa. This might seem counter-intuitive to some of you, but it can be easier sunk in if you look at this chart (pictured below). The white circles in it represent the size of the lens aperture, while the f numbers written below them illustrate the rule: the larger the number, the smaller the aperture signified will be.
The depth of field is the size of the field that looks sharp in a photograph, and it is directly dependent on the aperture. A large depth of field number (like f/28) will bring all the foreground and background objects into focus equally, while a smaller number (signifying a larger aperture) will bring only the foreground objects into focus, making the background of the photo appear blurry. A good illustration of this effect can be observed in the picture below. As you might have guessed, this is how those wonderful photos with faded backgrounds are made with, and it is indeed a wonderful effect to use. A skilled manipulation of a camera’s depth of field allows the photographer to emphasize whatever their heart’s desire is within a photo, and to make sure the viewers “see” the same thing the photographer has seen when they look at the image.
Even though a camera’s aperture sounds like more or less of a hardware property, since it depends on the size of the hole and the lens, the aperture can be somewhat manipulated, within a minimum and maximum limit. Each camera comes with these min and max values stated in the manual or in the specifications of your lens, if you bought yours separately from the camera. The depth of field can be thus adjusted by adjusting the camera’s aperture, and you should play with it as often as possible to obtain better or more creative photos on the long run. Don’t be afraid to experiment, after a while you’ll get the feel of it and you’ll be able to employ the depth of field to create beautiful images seamlessly, just by following your gut. Good luck and have fun.
The basic key to taking good pictures is learning to make the most out of your camera exposure features, which unfortunately is something most beginners don’t look into. Most DLSR cameras now have “auto” modes that adapt the camera to the lighting conditions, enabling their users to not look into those settings themselves, but the results obtained using the camera’s auto mode are far from satisfactory. Also, no matter how much you play with your pictures afterwards in a photo editor like Picassa or even Photoshop, even if you use the most sophisticated auto-contrast and auto-lighting tools, you pictures still won’t be that great.
The only thing that can make them truly spectacular and vouch for your truly professional photography skills is using the right camera settings in the first place instead of resorting to post-editing. Those camera exposure settings you should learn more about are sometimes called the camera exposure triangle: we’re talking about ISO, shutter speed and aperture. Here’s a short introduction on what you can do with each of those.
Camera Exposure Feature No 1: ISO
We’ve already talked to you about the importance of adjusting your ISO when we discussed a few tips on taking better family portraits. The ISO is a number reflecting your camera’s sensitivity to the available light. A lower number reflects a lower sensitivity (and must thus be used when there’s plenty of good light), while a higher number reflects a higher camera sensitivity. ISO 100 and 200 are considered low in most circumstances, 400 would be a medium, while every number bigger than that would be a high value. Greater ISO also comes with a cost: the higher the camera’s sensitivity, the more “grain” or noise in the photo’s quality. Still, when the lighting is poor or you’re trying to photograph a moving target, the payoff may be worth it. Experiment with this setting, get to know your camera and decide for yourself.
Camera Exposure Feature No 2: Shutter Speed
The second setting from the so-called camera exposure triangle which you should learn about is the shutter speed. This is a number reflecting the length of time for which a camera shutter is open for exposing light inside the camera sensor. Since we’re talking about advanced cameras here and not hundreds of years models, this number will obviously be a measure of fractions of a second. Really fast shutter speed settings (like 1/115) can successfully be used to freeze motion, while deliberately low speeds (like 1/15 or 1/20) can allow more light into the camera, making this a perfect setting for nighttime photography.
Camera Exposure Feature No 3: Aperture
Last, but not least, we should talk about the aperture feature. This is more like a technical built-in characteristic of the camera itself, referring to the hole with a lens through which light passes into the camera body. The larger this hole is, the more light can pass, making the camera more apt for certain types of photography. The depth of field (usually expressed through the letter f and is sometimes called the focal ratio) also depends on the camera’s aperture, and this refers to the portion of a scene which appears to be sharp. The larger the aperture, the smaller the depth of field will be and vice-versa.
Now remember: the important thing, besides learning how to use each of these better, is learning how to use them together. That means that if you increase one, maybe one of the others needs to be slightly decreased to compensate, and so on. For example, a large aperture usually calls for a high shutter speed, to prevent overexposure and so on. We can’t provide you with exact formulas here, because all this adjusting would depend not only on what your current camera settings are, but also on what exactly you’re trying to photograph, if it’s indoors or outdoors, in what kind of lighting conditions and so on. You need to research these things yourself, starting with your camera’s manual. Once you’ve managed to get those camera exposure features to work for you, the most important technical requirements for great pictures have been met.
Many of you aspiring professionals have a hard time choosing a photography niche, but some of you already decided to have portrait photography as one of your main go-tos. And the rest of you striving to make it in this transition from an amateur photographer to a pro haven’t really wholeheartedly decided for portrait photography, but you end up doing portrait gigs once in a while because this is what is most often offered to you. Since building a portfolio always requires you to show off your paid gigs, it’s only natural to accept most of the employment offers coming your way even if you don’t need the money that bad (you have another main job) or even if the subject isn’t really your cup of tea. And this is how the matter of family portraits arises.
The customers employing you to take photos for them want portraits most often than not, obviously, so there you have it: sooner or later, every aspiring photographer needs to deal with portrait photography no matter how much or little they like it. But perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves and you really have a genuine interest for this kind of photography, well, even better in that case. You’ll need all the enthusiasm you can muster, just as in any other photography niche. We’ve previously shared with you a general outline about the dos and don’ts of portrait photography, but this field has its own subfields which can be very different from each other, like wedding photography, artistic nudes, mother and child photography and so on. Today we’re going to talk about what it takes to shoot really wonderful pictures in the subfield of family portraits, so that you hopefully end up with a product that satisfies both the client and your own artistic and professional exigencies.
1. Be as relaxed as you want your subject to be
Photographers complaining about how some subjects just can’t pose and how they freeze in front of the camera often forget that the subject’s attitude is very often dependent on theirs. Talk to clients beforehand about any previous experiences with photographers and, if they trust you, they’ll confess that photographers freeze too behind the camera and start fidgeting. The manner in which a photographer fidgets is something like this: continuously changing camera settings and lighting, giving contradictory instructions for the subject’s posing, seeming unsure of themselves and of what to do next, and generally conveying a discontent vibe about the whole thing. If you make your subject(s) uncomfortable and general
2. Adjust your lens to the group’s size
The lens you equip dictates what kind of angle your camera will be capable to sustain, as well as opening up a whole array of focusing options. If you’re taking the portrait of a large group, like multiple generations of one family or more than 4-5 people, you need to equip a wide-angle lens of about 18 mm, allowing more people to fit in your shot. A telephoto lens (greater than 70 mm) works, as the name implies, better at a distance, but don’t allow a great angle. If you’re shooting a group sitting further away, this could be a good option. Just climb on something that gives you a bit of an altitude and shoot away for some of the best family portraits ever; the distance will prevent you of missing the angle.
3. Use Exposure Compensation to get the skin tones right
The Exposure Compensation feature is something landscape photographers often use to brighten or darken up skies in order to obtain more realistic or dramatic images. When shooting family portraits, this feature can be used as a trick to make sure that the lighting isn’t tampering with your subjects’ natural skin tone. You can dial up this functionality (the exact place to find it depends on your camera so search it in the manual) by positive or negative ¼ measures until you feel that the skin tone is now just right.
4. Increase your ISO to counteract your subjects’ movement
People tend to move around quite a bit when they have their portraits taken and this is true especially of large groups. Imagine many generations and kids and pets all crammed up together in a tight group and having to wait for multiple shots to be taken. But don’t worry, this can actually work to your advantage, as they will be more relaxed and natural if they’re allowed to move and you may be able to capture some very fun family portraits. The only downside to all this is that movement can make the pictures blurred, depending on your camera’s aperture and shutter. To prevent the blurring, you should increase your ISO and bump up your shutter speed up to 400, and even higher in low light. This might produce a little bit of a grain effect (at higher ISO values like 3200), but even so the pictures will still look better.
Remember to practice patience and friendliness and keep researching and experimenting with various camera settings. Your portrait photography skills and photography skills in general will get better for it.