Guest Post Written By: Daniel Coffeen
We are all photographers; some of us just haven’t realized it yet.
Everyone can take beautiful photos nowadays. We have iPhones and Androids that have a million megapixel cameras on them, have on board flashes, and they have apps to edit photos to correct little details in the photos. The fact is that you don’t need a fancy Canon or Nikon DSLR to be a great photographer. It doesn’t hurt to have one, but isn’t necessary.
I am an amateur photographer in my free time. I have worked a couple of weddings, some corporate events, a few volunteer events, and take photos in my free time. When I began, I knew nothing about photography. I made mistakes, messed up, and in turn learned from those mistakes. Now, I want to share the little bit of knowledge with you.
If you want to look at my work, https://www.facebook.com/DanielCoffeenPhotography is my photo page with just a small amount of my work.
1. Take LOTS of photos
Maybe you didn’t hear me the first time. TAKE LOTS OF PHOTOS! Our cameras now don’t use 35mm film anymore, so that means that we don’t have to worry about running out of film or the photo not turning out anymore. Cameras operate on digital memory now. This means that you can take photos until your memory card is full, and then just delete the photos you don’t want or plug your camera into your computer, and then just keep taking more.
Here is another way of thinking about this. Would you rather have 10 photos in which some or most of them don’t turn out, or would you like to have 500 photos of everything at the event, multiple of the people attending, and some candid shots and only worry that a few didn’t turn out well? As an amateur photographer, whenever I go to an event that I am photographing, I take hundreds of photos. This is so that if I mess up the exposure on one, I have 2 or 3 of the same photo to work with. I worked an event a month or so ago that was about 3 hours long. When I finished, I had over 700 photos to sift through.
2. Light, use it
Make sure there is plenty of light. Light is an intricate part of photography, not having enough of it means that your photos will not be exposed properly. Open windows, shoot outside, turn on lights, it is almost impossible to have too much light. Also, if you are outside on a bright sunny day, turn off your flash. It is unnecessary and just winds up killing your battery. If you are inside, take the photo first without the flash. It could be that there is plenty of light and that the flash is unnecessary and could possible over expose your subject. If the photo doesn’t turn out with the flash off, then turn the flash on and retake the photo.
3. Don’t face your subjects into the sun.
When you are taking a picture of someone or a group of people, have the sun either behind your subject or slightly off to the side. When they are facing directly into the sun, they will have no choice but to squint and their faces will be over exposed. By placing the sun either behind them or off to the side, this will avoid that problem. Your smartphone or camera will do all the work and expose the picture correctly and give you a great photo.
This is a great example. All I did was move my subject a few feet to the right and moved myself. The subject is exposed correctly and the shadows on her face are removed.
4. Get creative
Everyone knows the posed photo, the picture of the table with all of your material on it, or the people behind your table smiling. These are great photos to get, just not the only ones you should take. Candid, low angle, high up shots, props, action shots, these are the photos that everyone really enjoys and can be used to tell the story of the event. These photos can also be very useful for social media and thank you notes. Action and candid shots are the best, people love when you take a great photo of them when they are not ready or expecting it. Some of the best photos I have ever taken are of people when they least expect it and are acting completely natural. Also, move around! Take photos from all over in order to get multiple angles. If you stay in one place, people know where you are and will avoid you.
5. Don’t zoom with the camera, zoom with your feet!
I know that sounds weird, but it really makes a big difference doing this. When you zoom on your phone, you distort the photo and can add graininess to it. By moving closer to the subject, you avoid this problem and can actually get more rich photos from doing this. Also, when you zoom in, the chance of blurring is increased even more. That is because a slight movement by you with the camera means a huge movement at the subject level. A centimeter turns into a foot very quickly.
I hope that these tips are useful for you. They were not very obvious to me at the time, but it is really the little things can make the difference in your photography. If you have a DSLR, YouTube has wonderful tutorials on how to use the manual and aperture-priority settings on your camera. Once you learn how to use these two settings, you will never use the auto setting again.
Now, get out there are start taking photos!