Photography Poses? The Missing Ingredient

By Robert Bezman

You’ve read all the “best digital camera” articles, got the best price on your first digital camera, and even glanced at its owner’s manual. Are you itching to take some shots of your family, or what?

Slow down, soldier. Before you take 200 shots that seem great at the time, but then upon review of the final picture are less than what you expected, let’s prepare. Prepare?!?! I’ll bet you thought charging the battery was the hardest part of taking great photos, didn’t you? Sorry to disappoint you, but if you want to improve your photo results 50% in 2 minutes, let’s review some basic advice of the pros.

There are two categories of GENERAL ADVICE which applies, regardless of whether you’re using a digital camera to take family portrait poses, baby pictures, pet portraits, group pictures, funny photos, or even maternity portraits. The first category is…

“Good Planning” Advice for Photography Poses

1) Prepare For The Event

Prepare for the event by thinking about every photograph you want to take and what kind of photography pose or poses you would like to capture. Consider who, where, how, and the type of environment.

2) Take Multiple Photographs

Take multiple shots of each pose (remember, digital memory is reusable, a.k.a. “free”). Regardless of what you say or do, people will blink. And don’t count on spotting small problems on the tiny camera LCD screen (even on full magnification); which leads to…

3) Check LCD Screen

Check the digital camera’s LCD screen for general framing of the picture, any movement, visibility of faces, and the histogram. Note that you can think up a fantastic photography pose; arrange everyone perfectly; and, have the photograph “frozen” (no blinking, and no shaking of the camera)…but, when you check it out in the LCD, you see 2 drunks fighting in the background! And, my favorite…

4) Funny Phrases

Have some funny phrases handy to use just before you take the photo. Don’t use it when setting up for the shot. And, don’t use the same phrase all the time. Throw in funny anecdotes, phrases, names, words that you know your family will find more amusing than “cheese.” A natural smile looks four times better than a fake one. The second category is…

“Location” Advice for Photography Poses

Taking indoor family photography, is very different than outdoor family photograph (duh!). For INDOOR pictures…

1) Wide Angle

You will tend to use the wide angle more often than your telephoto setting. Pay particular attention to your “end people” (those farthest to the right and the left in your viewfinder), and verify there is enough space in picture, so that if cropping is required, the end people don’t have to lose a limb.

2) The Flash

Flash considerations are critical. Do not be outside your “flash range.” For example, if at ISO 100, your flash can properly illuminate 12 feet, don’t attempt any photography pose that requires anyone to stand at 14 feet (unless, of course, it’s evil cousin Ira who you want to appear in darkness).

3) Plan “B”

If you need to be further away than your flash allows, here are 2 things you can try…First, increase the ISO setting (but not so much as to produce to much noise), or second, move to a significantly brighter location.

4) Watch Your Background

If there are distracting features, change your settings to blur the background (see the Techniques page). The best photography pose in the world won’t look right with a distracting background. And finally…

5) Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

If there are mirrors or reflective surfaces in the background and you can’t find a different location, only take the picture in such a way that the flash is not perpendicularto the surface, but at an angle (unless you want a nice photo of your flash).

Outdoor family photography has completely different issues. For OUTDOOR photography…

6) The Sun

Avoid photographing in direct sunlight, or in mixed light and shade, especially faces. Optimal lighting results from a slightly overcast sky.

7) Shade

When photographing in shade, use fill-flash (see terms) when necessary. And, really finally…

8) Beauty

If practical, take the picture at one of the beautiful natural settings near you. Imagine the result of a creative photography pose captured in a stunning environment. Can you say: “Over the mantle!”?

To see some sample pictures including more photography tips, go to http://www.best-family-photography-tips.com/photography-pose.html.

Copyright 2005 Robert Bezman. All rights reserved.

Robert Bezman is a professional photographer and owner of Custom Photographic Expressions. Robert has created http://www.best-family-photography-tips.com to help the digital world create better photographs.

Photographing Kids

Written by Anne Charlotte Riley

Kids grow up so quickly and while we are often left with countless memories, most parents have only a drawer packed with school photos, blurry holiday snaps and the forced grin of the inevitable yearly birthday picture to account for the years gone by. It’s time to stop bemoaning the latest photograph of your thumb obscuring your adorable baby and get on with improving your skills as a photographer.

Why should you bother when the near-by mall has a perfectly good photo studio, you ask? Photographing children poses specific challenges but yields numerous rewards. While it can be frustrating when you miss that spontaneous moment, it is also highly satisfying when you manage to capture the joy in their faces as they dance in the summer’s first sun shower. Capturing the day-to-day moments will provide a treasure trove of memories that you will cherish forever. As well, your own images take on a more personal feel and a more meaningful connection, something that can never be achieved in a generic mall photography studio.

Follow these easy steps and immediately improve your snaps of the kids.

Making The Unusual Usual

Friends with children often say to me “My child always pulls faces for the camera and I can’t get a picture without little Johnny sticking his tongue out and crossing his eyes.” Kids –and many adults as well– are prone to hamming it up for the camera, however, they will be more natural if the camera is a part of their everyday life instead of brought out once or twice a year. By making it a regular part of their lives, it will increase the comfort level and encourage portraits that are more natural. Try bringing out the camera once or twice a week and focusing it on your kids. They will become accustomed to having it around and it will give you a chance to practice your technique, too. And, if they still clown around for the camera, get into the swing of things and enjoy it. Little monkey faces are a part of childhood!

Kids’ Eye View

As adults, we look one another in the eye and photograph our friends at eye level. Do the same for your children. Bend down on one knee or sit on the floor to get a picture that reflects a child’s perspective. To add a little excitement, have fun playing with perspective by shooting the image from the ground up. Lie down on the ground and taking a picture from that viewpoint. Suddenly toddlers become giants and we can witness the world as they see it, by looking up.

Patience, Patience!

Small children have a limit of two or three minutes before they become bored with Mummy or Daddy’s photo session. The urge to run off and play becomes just too much! Don’t force kids to stay in one place for long, unless you like pictures of sullen little faces. If you are taking a formal portraiture-style photo be sure to plan ahead for the best possible results. Check your batteries, make sure there is film in the camera and if you are using a digital camera see that there is space on the memory card. Provide your toddler or small child with a prop, like a ball or a favorite toy to help create a more natural expression, instead of the one that says, “Just hurry up and take my picture, Mom!” Keep it fun and stress-free.

Fill The Frame

Because backgrounds can sometimes be distracting, do not be afraid to move in closer and take a picture of your angel’s face. It creates drama and interest in the photograph and eliminates extra clutter. Unless you are taking a travel photo or an image of the child engaged in a particular activity, feel free to emphasize the most important element of the picture- your child. Use the zoom or macro tool on the camera to get in closer. Pictures of your little one’s hands or feet can also be interesting studies, and one day you may find yourself saying, “I can’t believe they were so tiny!”

Just A Little Off-Centre

Many professional photographers use “The Rule Of Thirds” approach which means that they mentally divide the frame into three sections both vertically and horizontally –like a tic-tac-toe grid– and place the subject of the photo at one of these intersecting points. It helps to create a more dynamic photograph, than one where the subject is smack-dab in the middle. Take note that if your camera is an auto-focus model, you may have to focus first on your subject and then, with the shutter button still half-pressed, recompose the image.

Natural Light Rules!

One of the tricks of the trade in photography is to use morning or late afternoon light. The sunlight at this time is wonderful and helps to produce pictures that are bathed in warmth. Direct light flatters the subject and adds to a more intimate and natural-looking photograph. It also helps to greatly reduce the bane of every parent photographer- red eye!

Experiment with taking advantage of the sunlight pouring through a window, or march the kids outside on a sunny day and photograph them while they are playing tag. To have a well-lit photograph make sure the light is behind you, shining on the subject. To create drama, try using side light for impressive shading. If you try to take a photo with the sunlight behind your children, a technique known as “backlighting”, you will end up with the subject looking like a dark silhouette.

The Last Word

It really is all about fun. View the time you are taking to photograph your children as time to share in their adventures and imaginary play. A frustrated mom directing kids to a more picturesque location and insisting on a smile does not reflect kids’ reality. Pick up the camera only when everyone is relaxed and happy. Finally, don’t expect every photo to be a masterpiece. The truth is that only a few images from each roll are frame-worthy, but the important thing is to keep snapping away to capture the moments that depict their ever-changing lives, in all its unique glory!

The Beauty of Nature Photography

By Colin Hartness

Nature is all around us, and its beauties are unlimited. In this fast-paced world of mocha-lattes and traffic jams at rush hour, too many of us take the beauty of nature for granted. Luckily, there are still people in the world who see this beauty and choose to share it with those of us that are too busy to normally take notice. Poets and photographers are great at this. They take what seems like the ordinary and present it to us in a way that shows us the elegance, the magnificence and the amazing that is on this rock we call Earth.

What is Nature Photography?

So what do we mean when we say nature photography? Well, it may seem obvious but let’s go ahead and explain. Nature is our natural environment. It is those things that exist in our world without human intervention; such as trees, grass, flowers, a forest, a river, and animals in their natural environment.

Nature photography is the photography of these things. There is a wide spectrum that is included in nature photography. Pictures of sunsets, sunrises and ocean waves lapping at the shore are all nature photography. So are the trees in the forest and beautiful flowers growing in an open field.

But nature photography can go even deeper than that, showing us parts of the world that we may not be able to see otherwise. If you live in the south, you may not see snow-capped mountains if it wasn’t for nature photography. You may not be able to see a deep canyon, a volcano, or a beautiful beach if it were not for photographs of these places.

The photographers that bring us pictures of these places give us an image of something we may never see. It’s truly an amazing gift to give.

Nature Photographers

But what if you are one of the people taking these pictures? What if you are the nature loving photographer that gives this fantastic gift to someone else? You are giving a gift to other people. But you are also doing something you love. Nature photography can only be achieved by someone who has a love for nature and sees its beauty and can capture it in a photograph so others can view it and have a touch of the same experience.

So how do you take great nature photography? The first step is to have an eye for these beautiful images. The second step is to have a camera. That’s really all it takes. But as you grow as a photographer, you will learn how to take the best pictures and capture the image in a way that others can view it as the amazing sight that you saw. You will learn about lighting and backgrounds and focus and you will take better pictures.

Nature photography is a rewarding experience for the photographer and also for the people who get to view the results. You have taken a piece of nature that may otherwise go unnoticed such as a rainbow, and you capture it permanently in an image that you can look at any time you choose. This is a pleasing and rewarding part of photography. In nature photography, you are able to take two things that you love and combine them in a beautiful and artistic way.

Looking for information about Photography?Go to: http://www.asaphotography.com ‘ASA Photography’ is published by Colin Hartness – An excellent resource for Photography! Check out more Photography articles at: http://www.asaphotography.com/archive

Photographs Everywhere, But Is It Really Art?

Article Written by Sue Kennedy

I once heard a lady say to a photographer that she would have bought his work if it had been a painting. She liked the image, but for whatever reason didn’t consider the medium suitable for her “it’s just a photo”.

I am sure that some share her thoughts, whilst others would be quite happy either way, but a growing number of people do recognise photography as an Art form. And collect it.

“There are three fundamental components of what we call art. First, is the artist; second, is the medium; and third is the artwork. All three, clearly are interrelated.” Tad Beckman

Defining photographic art

It is true many people do regard photography as merely a reproductive medium, and the photographer as simply the technician. And if this were just about your holiday snaps then it would be a valid point.

So let’s start with my definition of photographic art. I say my definition because there is no stock answer it means different things to different people.

For me it’s about creating a beautiful image that is an interpretation of the scene that I saw in my mind captured on film, rather than just a recording of what is already there.

It’s about the photographer being the choreographer of the various components; the composition is critical, as is the lighting, weather conditions and the colours at play.

It’s not just about pressing the shutter release, although timing is everything. Patience comes into play too, as you wait for all the components to be perfect all at the same time.

Some things you can control, but the weather well that constantly throws out surprises that can add that hint of drama to a picture or send you home disappointed.

It’s these uncertainties that add the challenge, and this results in creativity as you respond to the situation. Other photographers will have their own criteria, but we all are producing very personal pieces of work that we feel passionate about and that are a representation of our interpretation of the world.

A photograph – more than just a sheet of paper with an image on it?

Oh yes! Typically a photographer will capture an image that pleases their eye. They will create something that is close to their heart, and therefore give a little of themselves in the image.

Effectively they are allowing you to see how they perceive the world to be, one moment at a time. Add into the fact that many photographers print their own work (once they have an order!), and sign it then you could say you are buying a piece of history – or designer art!

In other words you are not buying a mass produced print, and naturally the price reflects this. You are buying into the reputation of that photographer and you will expect to pay more. When someone is starting out and building reputation then you are investing in the potential of that person.

You won’t pay as much, but you’ll be backing your own instinct and demonstrating your belief in that person’s talent. Contemporary photography is affordable art.

Subject matter – does it matter?

Personally I don’t believe it does, and I mean this in the sense that people will be drawn to your work because they have seen something of yours and liked your style, and typically that means they like your choice of subject matter too.

My preference is for landscapes and increasingly flowers, whilst other photographers prefer sport, people or a more abstract approach to name but a few.

I think the key to preserving artistic integrity is to shoot for your own personal satisfaction, although naturally as your reputation builds you will develop an understanding of what collectors want, but for me I always have to love the image myself to want to share it with the world. Anything less and it stays in the drawer!

I still experiment, and search for new subject matter, but my photographic style is what it is. It just keeps evolving.

A new language

Understanding the language of the image is something quite individual to the viewer, it does not explain itself in the same way to each person. It is subjective. And although some may view photography as easy, believing that there own point and shoot cameras can produce similar results to a master photographer are confusing the issue.

After all most of us have made paintings at some time in our lives, and may still own paint brushes, but wouldn’t necessarily look at a painting by a master and not consider it to be art would we?

It is the heart and hand of the author behind the brush, camera or pen that executes the creative vision not the tools used.

About the author: Sue Kennedy, LRPS & LBIPP Sue Kennedy is an UK based photographer specialising in outdoor photography and works on commission for companies & individuals as well as shooting for picture libraries. To purchase from Sue’s current print and card selection visit her Website http://www.blueeyesphoto.com

Copyright © 2004 Sue Kennedy Blue Eyes Photography Ltd