Every now and again a sweet reader will write in, asking for photography tips.
I find this really, truly flattering, but I don’t really know how to answer. I’m not a trained photographer. I don’t know how half the buttons on my camera work. I’m just a girl who takes a lot (A LOT) of pictures.
So, as much as I’d like to, I can’t really impart any real photography wisdom, I can only tell you what I do, and hope that maybe it will work for you too:
1) I think that my skills have grown a lot in the past year, and that’s in large part due to this blog. Having a blog has required me to take photos almost every day. Where before, I might save the photo taking for big events, outings or occasions, now I take pictures of every little thing. The daily practice has taught me a lot about my camera, how it works in different settings. and also a lot about myself, what I find beautiful, what I want to remember, my own style.
The very best advice I can give is to just take lots of pictures. Take your camera everywhere. Take pictures of everything; your lunch, your doorknob, your steering wheel while you wait in the carpool line, the squirrel that won’t leave your birdfeeder alone. Pretty soon, you’ll learn a lot about your camera, your style, and you’ll start paying closer attention to your everyday world. You’ll find yourself taking lots of mental photos, composing shots even when you don’t have your camera at hand.
As an added bonus, the constant photo taking has totally desensitized my children to the camera. They used to balk when I brought it out, now they’ve come to expect as much, and even ask, “Hey momma, you wanna take a picture of this (… rock, playdoh snake, flying leap off the couch…)? Should any of my boys become politicians or actors, they will feel perfectly at home with the paparazzi.
2) I never use the flash. Never. Well, I take that back, I try sometimes, but I’ve yet to take a good photo with the flash. Maybe if I learned what all those buttons did, I could adjust the flash levels or something, but since I don’t know how to do that, I just don’t use it. Most of the photos you see here at Blue Yonder were taken outside, or very near a sunny window.
3) I try things from lots of different angles. If I’m taking a photo of a boy playing in the water I might take one from below him and catch a lot of the water spray, and another above and capture his swirly wet hair, one real close to see the drops on his skin, and one from behind to capture the plumber impersonation (why it that my kids fannies cannot hold up a wet swimsuit?).
Photos that are all looking dead on, straight at the subject have their place, but more often than not, a different angle will add to the interest of the shot.
4) I get real close. Most of my photos focus on one particular detail that I’d like to remember… dirty fingernails holding a fluffy chick, rather than the whole boy and the whole chicken.
5) I don’t really edit my photos much. I may crop them a little, raise the contrast or sharpness, but that’s about it. I use iPhoto for those things. Sometimes, if I want the photo to be a particular size, or if I want to add text, I use Picnik. I know that a lot can be done to improve photos with more extensive editing programs but 1)I’m too
lazy busy too learn how to use them. and 2)I’m kind of a purist. I don’t like the idea of things altered too much.
So that’s it. That’s about all I know on the subject.
Here’s a few tips though, from some amazing photobugs that know far more than me!
Alright then, get to shootin’!