OK, who hates lectures? ME ME ME!!!
I'm a former high school English teacher. Ions ago, I was a high school, then college student. And I'm a mom of 3 kids under the age of seven! So I know the value of short and to the point!
That said, here is the first of what I'm guessing will be many "Cawfee Tawk Lists".
Today's list: Top Ten Quick Tips to Better People Pictures!
1. Lose the cheese! Stop telling your kids, or friends, or whoever, to say cheese- it just makes their smiles look unnatural and forced. Instead, talk to your subject, and engage with them. Shoot all of their emotions! And if you want them to smile and laugh- then just LAUGH! It's contagious!
2. Take a few minutes to declutter your space. Throw the toys in another room, pick up the dirty clothes, and toss the sippy cups aside. A decluttered space creates a much better background! Here, Nora's mom even took the time to toss the pillows off the bed, which means the viewer sees nothing but that adorable face!
3. Get her away from dead center! The natural tendency is for us to get our subject and stick her right in the middle of the frame. Don't do it! It get the viewer's eyes stuck- should I look to the left, or the right? Where should my eyes go? Instead, pull your subject off to one side, and even better, have her then look into the center of the frame. Then the viewer's eyes know where to look.
4. Play with different angles. Don't always shoot your kids standing up or straight on. Experiment. Different angles suggest different characteristics. For example, shooting down on a child (like with Scotty, left) gives the image a feeling of innocence. Shooting at eye level, like with Camryn (center) suggests a feeling of being right there with your subject, a real connection. And shooting from below (like with Steve, right) gives your subject a feeling of strength and power- a great way to shoot high school boys!
5. Move in closer to your subject- and then move closer still! I am a big fan of getting in tight to my subjects. It leaves no room for doubt as to what we're focusing on here. A tiny bit of head chop if fine (just don't chop the chin!) and the closer you get, the more dynamic those eyes are. And hey, it takes care of the clutter problem too!
6. After you get close to them, get them close to each other! And by close, I mean CLOSE! Anyone who has sat for a session with me knows I love this rule, and I'm always saying "move closer together- closer- closer! Get UNCOMFORTABLY close!" It really does make them uncomfortable sometimes, but then it turns out to be their favorite shot! All the time! So get them close. Leave no spaces between those kiddies. You'll love the results!
7. Save the line up for the criminals! Think TRIANGLES! You've seen it before- you want to get the whole family together for a shot, but they all naturally just line up. WHY? Don't do it! Get people seated, get heads on different planes, and get arms connected and around each other. Try to get everyone touching and try to make sure no two sets of eyes are on the same plane. With one straight line up, the viewer looks from one face to the next to the next, right out the side of the picture! With triangles, the viewer goes around and around, from gorgeous face to gorgeous face, traveling back and forth through your image over and over, which is exactly what you want!
8. Turn off the lights in the house and just move to the window. We talked a little about this in my last Cawfee Tawk post, but I cannot stress enough how gorgeous natural window light is. But you gotta turn off those overhead lights. And your flash too! Just move your subject closer to the window, and then experiment with where you place that window. Natural light is gorgeous light if you just play with it.
9. Focus on those eyes! OK, so you're nice and tight on that subject of yours, but the photos keep coming out blurry! Ugh, what's wrong? My guess is that you aren't focusing in the right spot. Your viewfinder should have a little square that lights up when you are focusing right? Well, put that little box right on the inside corner of your subject's eye and shoot. Yes, his chin might turn out a little soft, but that's ok. If the eyes are tack sharp, the image will be gorgeous. I mean, really, how can you look away from those eyes?
10. Keep shooting! Do not get discouraged, do not get bored, and do not give up! My kids are so sick of my camera it's not even funny, but they know that they must deal and so they do! And so yeah, I don't always get great smiles from them but who cares! (see rule #1)
Oh and after you get these rules down pat... go ahead and break them! Have some fun!
Your homework for this week is to spend some time with these rules. Then send me a comment and let me know which rules you love and which you hate- and maybe throw me a photo too! I always love to hear from you!
See you next week when we'll learn about the first of the sacred triangle of photography- aperature (and how to get those fun blurry backgrounds). BEWARE THOUGH... I feel a lecture coming on!