OK mama, I’m going to level with you here. At some point in your photography journey you are going to have to break out your camera manual and get to grips with some of the technical aspects of photography.
But the good new is…
That day is not today.
If the thought of f stops, ISO, kelvin and shutter speed makes you want to hang up your dSLR for good, then don’t despair. Sure, the techy stuff will come in handy at some point, but knowing which buttons to press is not the most important part of taking a photo.
Here are 3 things you can do to take better photos without needing your camera manual. And the best thing is, you can try these with any camera.
Canon 5d mkii | Canon Canon EF 50 F/1.8 STM | 50mm | 1/800 sec | f4 | ISO 400
1. Learn to Really See Light
Photography means painting with light, so it stands to reason that lighting is an important thing to know. As you get better at taking photos, you’ll learn about different types of light, such as back-lighting, harsh lighting, Rembrandt lighting and loop lighting. But you don’t need to know these terms to start, you just need to look at the light.
- Get used to noticing the light throughout the day.
- How does the light change as the day goes by?
- Look at the shadows. Do they have defined edges or are they gradual?
- Does the scene look different when it’s sunny to when it’s cloudy.
Take photos of the same space in different weather and different times of the day. What photos are your favourite? What difficulties do you have taking photos in certain lighting conditions? What happens to the light if you photograph the scene from a different angle?
When you are taking to someone, notice the light on their face.
- Where is the light coming from?
- Where are the shadows on their face?
- Do you think the lighting is flattering?
- Is there light in their eyes or are they in shadow?
Take some photos of your child facing you. Change position and take another photo. Do this for a few different positions and compare the images. Look at how the light changes in each image. Which images do you like best?
Canon 1100d | Canon EF 50 F/1.8 STM |
Lighting in your Home
You know your home pretty well, right? But I’m guessing your usually focused on picking up random bits of laundry or empty dishes, and you don’t really pay attention to the light. Now is the time to be more mindful when walking through your home.
- Which areas of your home are the brightest?
- How does the light change during the day?
Take some photos of your child playing. Is there enough natural light or do you need to turn a light on? What if you moved their toys nearer to the light. How does that change the photo?
Canon 5d mkii | Sigma Art Lens – Canon EF – 35mm – F/1.4 | 35mm | 1/200 sec | f2.5 | ISO 400
I moved her little table to the kitchen for baking time because I love the way the afternoon light streams in the window behind her.
2. Move Your Feet
I often see parents take out their camera and start shooting from where they are, but often you will need to move to get the best shot. Changing the angle and the direction of the shot can make a big difference in the image. Get in the habit of moving about when you take a photo. try the following angles:
- Up close
- Far away
- From above
- From down low
How does the image change when you change direction? Which images do you prefer?
3. Take Your Camera Everywhere
dSLR’s can be pretty big and so are noticeable. Whilst almost everyone has a phone camera these days, it’s unusual to see someone with a big, professional looking camera in everyday places like the playground. It can feel a little strange to get your camera out in the supermarket, but its so worth it. You’ll get a great variety of images and you’ll learn loads about shooting in different lighting conditions. Photographing everyday situations will encourage you to get creative with your composition to get interesting photos. Here are some ideas of places you can take your camera.
- The supermarket
- Soft Play
- The Playground
- The car wash
- Visiting friends and family
- Home improvement store
- Cinema (not during the film of course, but you can get some interesting images in the lobby and before the film starts.)
If you feel uncomfortable taking your big camera with you to busy places, you can practice with a mobile phone first. Look for interesting colours, lines and light and take lots of photos. Do this regularly and it will begin to feel like second nature after a while. You can also make a plan to visit places when they are quieter.
Try as many of these tips next time you take out your camera and I promise that you’ll soon see improvements in your images.