Take Better Photos With These 7 Tips

It’s graduation season, Father’s Day is around the corner, and the annual flurry of summer activities is fast approaching. Your camera is at the ready, but you want to take you photos to the next level.

Or perhaps your boss is asking for more and better photos for your newsletter or company Facebook page.

No sweat. Follow these 7 simple tips and you’ll see better photos the next time you say cheese.

Get closer
The biggest and most common mistake I see is not being close enough to your subject. In general, you don’t need to see your subjects’ feet. While there are exceptions, most times you’ll be fine with a waist-up shot. Think of trying to fill the frame with your subject. Additional benefit of moving closer: if you’re using a camera’s built-in flash, its most effective within 8-10 feet.

Take lots of photos
A professional photographer will take dozens of images to get one good shot. Yet, amateurs often shoot one or two images, and then move on. If you need an important photograph, don’t rely on a couple of images. Move around, try different settings or poses, changes lenses, shoot with and without flash — the more variations the better.

Use your flash — outside
When people face the sun, they squint, and when they turn away from the sun, you get shadows on their face. So, get the sun out of your subject’s face, and use your flash to knock out the shadows.

Shoot away from the action
Some of the best sports photos I’ve taken were of players warming up before the game, taking a breather during a time out, or celebrating after a victory. Yeah, you’re not getting the game action, but sometimes the best way to capture the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat is looking the other way. The photo of Red Sox Legend Johnny Pesky, left, was taken prior to a game.

Get a ‘safe shot’
This is a corollary to the previous tip. If you have a tough photo assignment, shoot something as a back-up, in case you can’t get the action shot. Years ago, I was hired to photograph a Boston Pops concert in Portland. There was one catch: I wouldn’t be allowed near the stage during the show. Fortunately, I had backstage access prior to the concert, and took a nice photo of my client with the conductor. Thanks to a good telephoto lens, I was also able to capture some good images of the show, but having the pre-concert photo took loads of pressure off.

Make your subject feel comfortable
While some people love being photographed, many shy away. When faced with a hesitant subject, spend a few minutes chatting to help them relax. Be confident in your ability to capture a flattering image. I tell people we’ll keep shooting until we get something they like.

Plan ahead
To paraphrase a popular real estate term, the key to successful photography is practice, practice, practice. My first paid sports photography assignment was a basketball game at a local college. A few days prior, I found another college game, and shot that as a test, trying different lenses, angles, etc. That day showed me what worked and what I needed to change.

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