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Vancouver Taking Great Family Photographs



By Tim Ruthenberg, CoverPhoto in Sudbury, Ontario

Pictures of friends and family will be treasured for many years, so you'll want to learn a few simple tricks to make the most of your efforts to capture fond memories of your loved ones. It may be hard for you to compete with professional studio photographers, but these techniques will bring you very close! Books have been written on this subject, and you may also chose to vist a library to learn more about this interesting topic, or search it out, here on the Internet.

5 Basic Photographic Rules:

  • Know your camera. Read the owner's manual to familiarize yourself with your camera's features and controls, and use it often.
  • ALWAYS have your camera with you.
  • Make your subjects feel comfortable, or try candid pictures.
  • Take lots of pictures - the best ones are often sheer luck, and you can throw away the ones where someone blinked.
  • Study other photographers' work to improve your style. What do you like/dislike about the pictures?

Some technical things to consider when taking people pictures:

Lighting:
Ensure lighting in group photos is even on everyone (if part of the group is in the shade, and part is in full sun, you will never be able to set a proper exposure). Keep sun out of eyes to avoid squinting, or red watery eyes. Open shade leaves soft shadows, and allows the subjects' eyes to open fully. If you must shoot in the sun, keep it to your suject's back or back side of head - use flash if necessary to light up the face. Beautiful shadows are created when the sun is low to the horizon, and is softened slightly by the length of atmosphere it passes through.

Composition:
Students of photography are required to use black and white film to conentrate on composition, rather than colour. Consider how the subject is in balance with other points of interst in the photo: look at the layout; what is the eye track - normally top left to bottom right - some pictures can work with the eye track, others against it. Put groups off centre, and add theme article (team flag, ball, bithday cake); look for interesting patterns.

Colour:
bright/colorful/sombre

Cropping:
"Frame" the head and shoulders (tilt your camera on it's side), rather than having wasted space on each side of the person. Don't be shy - get in close, or use your zoom to fill the frame with the subject. Get down low for baby pictures. If you plan to leave part of someone's body out of a picture, cut it off in the middle of a limb, rather than at a joint.

Expression:
Get the subject or group to relax - a trick to try is to have them pose carefully for a shot, then surprise them by taking two or even threee in quick succession, so they relax after the first, and get caught relaxing by the next shots. The second and third pictures are taken so quickly, they are unexpected, and sometimes produce interesting results.


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