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Do you wish you were a better at taking photos for your social platforms or website? You can watch the latest TikTok video’s or get your Tips here. We have had a chat with one of NZ’s leading product marketers for digital cameras (and a dab hand at photography himself) Greg Olesen Photography. He has given us his thoughts on what to look out for when taking that perfect shot. Take a read, then grab your camera/ iPhone and start shooting your way to great pictures!
The Top Ten things to look out for are:
Look your subject in the eye
Direct eye contact can be as engaging in a picture as it is in real life. When taking a picture of someone, hold the camera at the person’s eye level to unleash the power of those charming gazes and spellbinding smiles. For children, that means moving to their height. And your subject need not always stare at the camera. All by itself that eye level angle will create a personal and inviting feeling that pulls you into the picture.
A portrait that makes your subject pop – don’t forget the background!
Portrait photography isn’t just about having a great subject. It’s also about having a great background. What does a great background look like? A great background is straightforward and simple. You want your subject to remain the focal point of the photo. You don’t want the subject to get lost in a chaotic scene. Put your camera on Portrait and use the Studio Light or Contour Light. Your camera will tell you if you are too close or too far away. It will also automatically blur the background. Creating that perfect Head shot. When you look through at the iPhone screen or camera viewfinder, force yourself to study the area surrounding your subject. Make sure no poles grow from the head of your subject and that no cars seem to dangle from their ears.
Use flash outdoors
Bright sun can create deep facial shadows. Remove the shadows by using your flash to lighten the face. When taking people pictures on sunny days, turn your flash on. You may have a choice of fill-flash mode or full-flash mode. If the person is within 2 meters, use the fill-flash mode; beyond that, the full-power mode may be required.
Move in close
If your subject is smaller than a car, take a step or two closer before taking the picture and zoom in on your subject. Your goal is to fill the picture area with the subject you are photographing. Up close you can reveal those tiny details, like a sprinkle of freckles or an arched eyebrow - but don’t get too close or your pictures will be blurry!
Move it from the middle
Centre-stage is a great place for a performer to be. However, the middle of your picture is not the best place for your subject. Bring your picture to life by simply moving your subject away from the middle of your picture. Start by playing tick-tack-toe with subject position. Imagine a tick-tack-toe grid in your viewfinder. Now place your important subject at one of the intersections of lines. You’ll need to lock the focus if you have an auto-focus camera because most of them focus on whatever is in the centre of the viewfinder.
Lock in the focus
If your subject is not in the centre of the picture, you need to lock the focus to create a sharp picture. Cameras focus on whatever is in the centre of the picture. But to improve pictures, you will often want to move the subject away from the centre of the picture. If you don’t want a blurred picture, you’ll need to first lock the focus with the subject in the middle and then recompose the picture so the subject is away from the middle.
Know your flash’s range
The number one flash mistake is taking pictures beyond the flash’s range. Why is this a mistake? Because pictures taken beyond the maximum flash range will be too dark. For many iPhones and cameras, the maximum flash range is less than 4.5 metres —about five steps away.
What is your camera’s flash range? Google what your camera’s range is. Can’t find it? Then don’t take a chance. Position yourself so subjects are no farther than three metres away.
Watch the light
Next to the subject, the most important part of every picture is the light. It affects the appearance of everything you photograph. On a great-grandmother, bright sunlight from the side can enhance wrinkles. But the soft light of a cloudy day can subdue those same wrinkles.
Take some vertical pictures
Don’t like the light on your subject? Then move yourself or your subject. For landscapes, try to take pictures early or late in the day when the light is orangish and rakes across the land.
Is your camera vertically challenged? It is if you never turn it sideways to take a vertical picture. All sorts of things look better in a vertical picture. From a lighthouse near a cliff to the Auckland Sky Tower to your four-year-old son jumping in a puddle. So next time out, make a conscious effort to turn your iPhone sideways and take some vertical pictures.
Our Sharpe key takeaways …
Is the light behind or front of you? You want the sun on your back. Get to your subject’s level. Don’t shoot down on a subject.
Take a step ladder to seminars and take your shots from above the heads, that or introduce yourself and get to their level to take a good shot.