1. Shoot candid rather than posed: While it looks great to have everyone standing nice and straight, smiling and looking at the camera, quite often it is those candid moments that make for better photos. For example, if you are taking a picture of the kids to send to the grandparents, get them playing with their favourite toy so the smile you capture is achieved naturally.
If you are taking pictures with digital cameras at a family gathering, take photos of your subjects as they mingle and talk rather than getting everyone to stand shoulder-to-shoulder. Also take lots of photos – you can always delete the ones you don’t want later.
Another great idea is to think ahead – if you know a birthday cake is about to be cut, find a great position and shoot before, during and after the cutting. You’ll be surprised with the results!
2. Use a flash outdoors: The biggest benefit of using a flash outdoors is that it can reduce shadows, particularly on your subjects’ faces. Just remember the range of your flash – you don’t want to be too far away or the effects will be negligible. The built-in flashes are pretty good for close-up work, but their effect is reduced the further you get from your subject.
When you are taking photos outside, particularly of faces, try a few shots with flash and without. The difference will be quite noticeable, especially when the sun is behind the subject.
3. Change the perspective: Don’t be afraid to get down on your hands and knees, and even your stomach, to capture that special moment. For example, lie on the floor to get a great close-up of a baby as they enjoy some “tummy time”.
If you are at a party and want to catch some of the action on the dance floor, stand on a chair and shoot down on your subjects. And don’t be scared to change the angle of the camera as well for some interesting results.
4. Get close: The closer you are to the subject of your photo, the better it is. Why? Because you are eliminating all of the distracting background that can often spoil what would otherwise have been a great picture. You also get greater detail when you are closer.
Many brands, including Canon cameras, have what is called a macro setting which helps improve the quality of the image close-up.
5. Be the director: To take a good photo you need to be more than just a person pushing a button. You need to be able to take in everything that is available to you, such as lighting and background, and make the most of it.
For example, rather than take a picture in front of a brick wall, put your subjects in front of a tree to provide a softer and more pleasant backdrop. Think of yourself as more of a picture director than picture taker.
Just remember not to be obtrusive or pushy though. Subtle suggestions are more likely to get a better result than barking orders.