Galloping across the horizon, the sunset bathes the grass in a warm, comforting, nurturing hue. With trees dancing in the wind, the stage couldn’t be any more perfect than it could right now. She looks into his eyes and he into hers. Not a word was exchanged and yet the most profound message was still conveyed – I love you. Later that night, looking at your pictures, you discover that you didn’t capture any of that. Not only that, you didn’t even take a picture that shows up – oops.
Face it, photography is important. That is why we all hire professionals for the big event but the professionals can’t be there all the time. Sometimes you need to take your own pictures and here are four tips to make your pictures better.
Pick a main subject
Wedding events can get hectic; chances are that when you pick up your point and shoot the first thing you think about is how to catch everything you can. Don’t do that.
This is essentially the same picture with a different subject. Top, two focal points, no interaction. Confusing and boring. Bottom, subjects are interacting for a compelling message.
Movies generally have a main protagonist; bands have a lead singer; meals have a main course; your pictures need a focus. If I throw a ping pong ball at you, you’ll catch it. If I throw five simultaneously, you won’t catch any. Humans don’t multitask near as well as we would like and so when you pick up the camera think about what you want your main focus to be.
Know your camera
Aperture? Shutter speed? ISO? How can I keep it all straight? Truth is you don’t really have to. You just need to know how to get to it and a rote understanding of how to change it. Don’t get me wrong a basic understanding helps but this is a crash course, not a doctorate. Leaving it on auto is a huge mistake. Cameras, especially cheap ones, have a nasty habit of trying to ruin great shots.
Left, auto-flash ruined this one. Right, settings are auto-set for outdoors because of window.
Even the most basic digital camera will have some sort of manual settings. When you know the area you’ll be shooting in, switch the settings on what seems to work best. Just know that if you don’t, your camera will be out to ruin your photos all night. Trust me on that.
Optical zoom V. Digital Zoom
OK, this one piggy backs a little, but know if your camera has digital or optical zoom on it. Optical means that there is some sort of lens working to make pictures bigger. Digital means that it makes the picture bigger like the zoom button on your computer. Basically if your camera is digital zoom, than don’t ever use it. Get closer. The digital zoom basically makes up part of the picture leading to artifacts or that pixely look.
Digital zoom makes things bigger, not better.
Ready, set, shoot!
The first thing you will ever learn and possibly the most important is to be ready with the camera. Emotion is such a beautiful thing to capture on camera and simultaneously one of the hardest things to capture. Moments happen so quickly and the last thing that you want is to say, “I wish I had caught that on camera.” The other vitally important thing is take tons of pictures. I’ll often end up with hundreds of pictures while using only a handful. Behind the best photo portfolios are thousands of unused pictures.
This moment happened at 4:30 A.M. in Hawaii. Always be ready.
There it is. There is obviously more to photography but this should get you through. If you have any more questions, feel free to leave a comment.