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10 Secrets To Taking Better Photos

When putting together a scrapbook layout, the quality of your photos will have a huge impact on the overall feel of the layout.

There's nothing worse than enjoying a special event , such as a trip to the zoo or attending your niece's wedding, only to later discover that your photos are too blurry or too dark.

Thankfully with digital cameras, you can check your photos right away and might be able to snap a few new ones if you're not happy with the photos you just took.

To ensure that your photos have a chance of turning out well, here are ten secrets to taking better photos.

Blurry photos can ruin a layout
You don't want to take photos like this!

1. Choose your focal point.

As you take photos, think about what you really want to emphasize.  Many times we think we need to take a full body shot of someone and we miss out on opportunities for some really interesting photos.

For example, let's say your child is taking her first steps.  Sure you want a photo or two of someone holding out their hands to help keep the child stable, but you might also consider taking a close up of your child's feet.  Does she walk with her toes curled?  Does he turn his feet out?  These will be fun photos to include in your layout.

A focal point doesn't always have to mean keeping a person as the center of a photo.  If the photo background contains a neat stone wall, an interesting tree or a waterfall, then make those your focal points and have the person off to the side.

2.  Pay attention to the sun.

Too many photos turn out disappointing if the person is squinting from the sunlight.  When possible, you want good lighting behind the person.  You need to be careful though that you don't cause shadows if you're standing with the light behind you.

Depending on the type of mood you want to create, experiment taking photos that will cast a shadow or filter light on your subject.

3.  Change your camera angle.

Naturally, we tend to take photos at eye level.  Yet for a different effect, try taking some photos by angling the camera down towards someone or upwards toward your subject.  This idea works well if you want a photo of your sleeping baby or your son sitting in the apple tree reading a book.  The more you practice with different angles, the more you'll discover unique photo possibilities.

4. Capture the emotion.

We already know that a picture can speak a thousand words.  Depending on what type of emotion you want to capture, you might ask the person to look directly into the camera or to ignore the camera.

Let's say your son just popped the question to his girlfriend.  This would be a good "into the camera" shot.  You'll be able to capture his joy, anxiety and relief all in one shot.  If your toddler is having a bad day and the ice cream from his ice cream cone falls to the ground, sneak a photo of his quivering lip or sadness.  By not asking him to look directly into the camera, his disappointment will come across as real and raw.

5. Use continuous shooting.

When photographing a person or animal who tends to move around a lot, continuous shooting can be a lot of fun.  You take a series of shots and afterwards choose four to six of those shots and use them in a layout in "filmstrip" style.  Place the shots side-by-side and it will give your layout an animation feel.

6. Incorporate reflections.

Some of the most interesting photos include reflections, whether it be a person's face reflected in a mirror, a lonely puppy reflected in a window, or the hands of a newly engaged couple reflected in a stream of water.  Look for opportunities to capture reflections.

7. Photograph natural moments.

There are going to be times when you'll want staged photos where everyone is nicely grouped together and smiling.  However, taking photos of natural moments can be very powerful.

Imagine a photo of a little boy giggling as his puppy licks his hand, or a child beaming when her kite stays in the sky for more than just a few seconds.  By taking photos of real life happenings, you'll be able to get some great shots that are filled with all sorts of emotions.

8. Opt for black and white photos.

Black and white photos on layouts are timeless.  As you think back on some of your favorite family photos, chances are some of your favorites are black and white ones.  These photos remove the distraction of color and texture and lets you focus on what is actually happening in the photo.

9. Crop your photos.

By using a digital camera, you can always crop a photo later on.  If you're taking a photo of your daughter doing a cartwheel in the front lawn, but discover that a person is just beginning to walk into the picture, you can easily crop that person out.  Depending on the quality of a photo, you can crop to get a close-up of just the subject's hands, face, etc.

10. Practice, practice, practice.

Lastly, one of the super nice things about digital cameras is that you can see results instantly and you're not paying for wasted photos.  You can delete the pictures that didn't turn out well and hold onto the ones that you might want to use later for your scrapbook layouts.  Practice taking different angle shots, using props and capturing everyday moments.  Get in the habit of taking your camera with you and just have fun taking a variety of photos.
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