From increasingly affordable digital SLRs to ever-improving iPhone cameras, there's never been a better time to be an amateur photographer. But capturing stunning images requires more than high-tech tools. To get truly snazzy snaps, check out these simple tips from photographer in residence, Anna G.
Hint: don't let the goat eat your camera.
1. Always carry a camera.
I may not have coined the phrase, but I will repeat it with vigor.
“The best camera is the one that’s with you” - Chase Jarvis.
Be it an SLR or an iPhone, you can’t capture that special moment if your camera’s at home. Sure, you remembered to pack your lenses for your trip to the Grand Canyon (where you will no doubt get beautiful pictures), but what about when your three-year-old decided a mud puddle was a bath? Some of my favorite pictures were taken on my phone for just this reason—it was in my pocket when I needed it!
2. Find natural light.
Whenever possible, seek out natural light. For the casual photographer, shooting without a flash will almost always improve the photo’s outcome, especially when using a point and shoot or camera phone. Create a bright room by opening blinds and turning on lights. Back-light your subjects by standing with your back to a window. When outdoors, attempt to bounce reflecting light off water or light-colored buildings. The brightness from the natural light will reflect off your foci and create beautiful, natural-looking images.
3. Candid means candid!
Capture moments as they present themselves to you. Real life is beautiful and funny and surprising. Focus less on making sure every toddler in your PEPS group is smiling and more on preserving the real moment, even if that means faces are turned, babies are crawling away or noses are being picked. Let people be who they are and you’ll be amazed to see how your pictures preserve true memories. Living in an increasingly perfect Pinterest world, it’s easy to lose sight of just how bright real laughter will radiate, so leave the perfectionism behind and focus on reality.
4. Move around.
Not sure what camera angle is best for a certain shot? Afraid your lighting is too harsh? Get up and move around! Try new positions, experiment with standing on a chair or lying on the ground. Learn as you go by remaining fluid in your approach. As you gain experience, your style and methods will emerge, but until then, change up your angles every few shots until you find what you’re looking for. Every camera has a delete button on it for just these situations, so take advantage of it and shoot away!
5. Live a life worth photographing.
No one wants pictures of people slouching on their couch—so get up and get out! You’ll be amazed how photo-worthy situations emerge when you’re out amongst the living. Sunsets, camping trips, birthday parties, festivals, hikes, dinners with friends, neighborhood walks—let life inspire your to find moments worth preserving. Go live it up, and just remember to take your camera!