April 2, 2012

How to overcome the biggest lie in photography.

"Wow. Your camera sure does take great photos."

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

I take photos with a giant Canon 5d Mark II, a point-and-shoot Canon G11 and an iPhone 4s. And I can take wonderful snapshots (or more formal stuff) on all three.

Yes, a bigger, better SLR gives you more options, flexibility and sharpness, but it can't magically turn a bad photographer into a good one.

I was in a meeting yesterday and someone said "oh yeah smart guy -- try taking a good photo with this Blackberry Curve." Admitedly, it's not a great camera in the traditional sense. Poor in low light, lots of graininess.

So I made that work for me. I moved the subject to a nearby window. I turned off the flash. I did all the things you're supposed to do for good composition.

And I took a pretty decent snapshot.

It's not your camera that takes great photos -- it's you that takes great photos. And here's the best part -- you only need to get good at a few different things to go from "meh" to "marvelous:"

Know your camera.
What is your camera awesome at doing? What sucks about it? You've got to know both so you can take advantage of the good and compensate for the bad. My G11? Pretty good photos in low light, but sloooooow when I press the shutter. I use of for birthdays at a restaurant and am ready before a moment happens, so I get the shot.

Indoor lighting is tricky. Like this much better than if I had used a flash.

Light is about half of a photo. Blast a snapshot with your flash and you'll get the same ugly photo every time. Instead, turn off the flash, dial up the ISO and find/wait for/pray for good light.

Lots of Five Guys Fries -- got in close enough to show there are fries in a bag.

This Is a big one for portraits. There's often too much headroom and distracting background junk in snapshots. Get in close (and if you're adventurous, blur out the background with a high aperture.

Big hand, low angle. Different perspectives can make even regular images look cool.

Get up high. Get down low. Turn the camera vertically. When you move around, you create a whole new photo. 

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