Tips . Tricks . Tales
Valuable information you can’t find anywhere else
A good photographic exercise to have an ongoing personal project. It could be cloud formations, flowers, sunsets, shadows, or patterns, etc.
My passion is photographing American flags. If the lighting is right and the wind is blowing, I’ll photograph a flag.
If the American flag is worn and tattered, I send a photo to the flag’s owner, whether it’s a governing body, school, civic organization or private business.
I have countless images of American flags and I post one or more on social media during every national holiday or specially designated day that celebrates veterans and American freedom.
-A common mistake people make when photographing small children, is that the picture taker doesn’t get down. And I don’t mean in a funky way.
When a photographer shoots down on any person – even if the subject is sitting – the downward angle causes distortion. Since I’m 6’1’’, I almost always hunch over, bend, kneel, squat, or sit on the floor or ground when photographing people, especially little children. (Not babies.)
While on an assignment, a little boy with a violin asked me to take his pictures. (Being photographed makes children feel special.) Although I was extremely busy, I made a couple exposures of the boy. It’s an undeniably cute shot but I should have kneeled, and he wouldn’t have appeared distorted.
When photographing Daisy Girl Scout Leza, I moved her out of the bright sun and into the shade, knelt and shot. Immodestly I say, it’s ultra-cute.
I shot with an 18-55mm lens from a few feet away. My camera was set on P (Program), ISO 400, and the flash was popped up.
As a rule – Note: all rules can be broken after you know what they are. – people should be photographed with the camera level with their mid-body.
When I must shoot children from a low angle, I sometimes get a few of the miniature humans to help me up. Ha!
Most beginners and amateurs don’t get close enough to their human subjects. Or pets. They tend to leave too much room and include many things that should have been left out.
Conversely, some wannabes and professionals, shoot from too far away, physically. Meaning, they have long telephoto lenses and prefer to shoot from a distance. Not my style.
No matter how brief or inconsequential, I want a photographic relationship with my human subjects. That’s not possible from 30-feet away.
Ah, but you can’t always get where you want to be for many reasons, so you adjust, and usually switch lenses.
I was shooting a Sweet 16 party, (Don’t tell anyone. It was for the daughter of a longtime friend.), and it was mostly group photos, dancing teenagers, and the money shot: cutting the cake.
Brianna was one of the adult guests and after photographing her in a group, I asked to shoot a head shot. I wanted to eliminate other people and a cluttered background, so I switched to an 80-200mm lens.
I had Bri turn her head and look at me and I shot from about six-feet away. My camera was set on P (Program), ISO 400, with the built-in flash popped up.
The photo isn’t too tight or too loose. It’s just right. (Modesty is overrated.)
Window light is usually soft and flattering and desirable when photographing people. Traditionally, northern light is preferred by artists, (especially painters and photographers), because the light doesn’t change direction throughout the day, it’s extremely reflective, and has a constant cool value. (Google)
While taking pictures of customers in a friend’s second-story vintage clothing store, I was pleased that the room was lit by sunlight streaming from three large windows. Fortunately, there was no overhead lighting. If there had been fluorescent lighting, I’d have turned it off because the tubes usually emit a greenish colored light.
The entire interior of the business was painted pink with white trim so – since light reflects colors – a slight pink hue was added to my subjects. However, the tint was slight and somewhat flattering.
I told Ainsley not to look at me and made several shots. I used an 18-55mm lens from about five-feet away and my camera was set on P (Program), and ISO 400. I made sure my camera read her skin tone for a perfect exposure.
Note: I could have removed the background with a software program and even dropped in a different background, but that wasn’t what I wanted. (Actually, I’ve never done that.) I shot my style of an environmental portrait, which was a lovely young lady right where she was, using window light.
I was recently preparing to photograph a posed group of about twenty children at a church, and before I could give instructions, the kids began droning, “Cheeeeese! My brain screamed, “No!”.
However, I smiled and quickly said, “Say pizza!” Some did but their smiles weren’t genuine enough for my photo. I said, “Say pizza, pizza, pizza!” and I got a few giggles and more smiles.
Then I said, “Say hippopotamus pizza!” and the kids loosened up even more and began laughing and I finally got genuine smiles and mirth because of my silliness.
Parent have indoctrinated children to say “Cheese!” whenever they see a camera and it’s sometimes difficult for a professional photographer to overcome the accompanying grimace that appears painful.
Parents should avoid creating little cheese monsters by being completely prepared to take pictures before asking children to smile.
Children respond to silliness, so parents should be ready to ask children to say names of toys or cartoon characters. (I sometimes use “Googly Bear,” which I made up).
I want to evoke laughs from children, and as they wind down, I try to catch the inevitable smiles. Save the cheese for cheeseburgers.