October 13, 2011

#40 – Have an idea what your photo should look like before you take the photo.

You dialed in the aperture. You picked a white balance. Your finger locked in the autofocus.

Do you know what’s going to happen when you click the shutter?

One of the mistakes we all make when we take snapshots is to flip our gear into “Auto” mode and hope for the best. After all, we’re just capturing moments, aren’t we? Well, of course we are, but we want to capture moments that look better than those ones with bright flash, red eyes and too much headroom.

That’s why you should take a moment to think before you grab your camera. What do you want the photo to look like? What mood are you trying to create? What would make an average snapshot at a birthday party look wicked awesome.

Here’s how:

Create a quick mental checklist
Because you’re not using “Auto,” you have more control over your pictures. Choose a few things to consider, then grab your camera. Here’s what I pick:

·      Any distractions in the shot (messy faces, telephone wires, my thumb)?
·      Does it “feel” right (colours, angles)?
·      How’s the light (ISO, aperture, shutter speed)?
·      Do I like the pose/should I crop the landscape?

I walked through that checklist when I took 

Ask “is there anything I can do better/smarter/differently”
After I take a “blah” photo, I instantly think about ways I can make it a whole lot better. Take this one that I grabbed on my phone last week at the Grand Opening of a local restaurant. The first shot was ok, but the sky was so blue and bright and I thought “this could be cool...” And so it was.

Know when this isn’t the best advice
Sometimes it’s fun to be (pleasantly) surprised by what happens when you wing it. That’s actually a nifty way to start shooting. Take a few snaps with your camera in the driver’s seat, or just go with how you feel at the moment. Harvey made a great test subject for this point -- you never know what puppies are going to do. The first shot shows what happens when you wing it. The second, what happens when you tell your camera to do something (notice the low light in both situations -- that's a post for another day).

Let’s see how you imagine great photos. Join us on Frame One Photo’s Facebook page for ideas and examples galore.

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