Holly Becker of Decor 8 and her friend Igor are hosting a fun project called Stripe Mania! (See details here if you want to participate. You have until June 12th to add a photo of you in stripes to the group.) I was getting my photo ready to submit and started thinking about all of the pictures people will be snapping this summer.
I thought it might be helpful to post a few tips for taking photos of you and your friends and family outdoors. As always, I must reiterate that I am not a professional photographer so these tips are designed to be beginner-friendly and simple. Without further ado, here are 5 steps to taking FUN photos of your family and friends this summer:
1) Avoid heavy shadows and full sun. If you only read one tip, this is the one to take to heart. Honestly, I take a LOT of photos and this one still gets me, too. Sometimes you are outside and the sun is just not on your side. However, as much as you can, be aware of where the shadows are falling. A dark shadow on someone’s face can ruin a great photo. Sometimes you can simply ask the person to take a few steps to one side to end up in a better spot. Your goal is soft, diffused light. If you are planning to take a bunch of family photos, try for early morning or late afternoon. Cloudy days are best, but sometimes you can find a spot with flat, even shade on a sunny day as well. Full sun (like in the middle of a grassy field) will just wash everything out and can tire out your subjects, too. No one likes squinting in bright light only to have a bunch of so-so pictures!
2) Bring a remote + take a bunch. If you actually want to be IN your photo and not just behind the camera all the time, a remote can really help. Yes, you can usually find a nice stranger to snap a photo for you, but even the most patient person is only going to take one or two shots at most and who knows what quality those pictures will be. With the remote, you can snap a bunch of photos at a time. My husband is great at finding a flat location to place the camera. (Tripods are great for timer shots, but carrying the tripod is not. Only bring it if you are really committed and photography is your primary purpose that day!)
3) PLAY. Loosen up. Try something silly. We always take a photo of us looking miserable wherever we go. It immediately makes us laugh, and the next photo is usually a keeper. Turns out, I happen to love the miserable shots, too. Some of them are really funny. Delete the ones that aren’t (like this gem I like to call “worst photo ever”) and move on.
4) Go somewhere where you feel relaxed. Sometimes we expect the impossible. We want the family to dress in uncomfortable clothing and hike to a remote location where we will not give them any food or water and then expect them to SMILE! Do some of these turn out? Sure. However, if there is a wonderful, peaceful spot that you love and where you always feel happy — why not take some photos there? What is your goal with these photos? To remember how someone looks? To document a time in your life? Consider the memories of the day itself. Some of my favorite photos are the natural ones where our hair is not perfect and we have a few bags under our eyes, but every memory of that day is filled with joy.
5) And lastly, bring that person who makes you feel relaxed. If there is a person in your life who can coax out that great smile or who you completely trust to tell you if your hair has gone weird, bring them. Try to put the most zen person in charge of arranging everyone and helping them feel at ease. (Clue: this is usually NOT me, Mrs. Bossypants.) Have you been in one of those comical situations where several people are shouting out different instructions to a group of people — usually children — who are having their photo taken? I am slowly learning to step back from this situation and let whoever the child whisperer is do his/her work.
Any other tricks and tips you would add to the mix? If you’re looking for more beginner-friendly photo tips, I did a series of posts called Picture This! about choosing a lens (part 1 and part 2), getting to know your camera, and other fancy tricks. We have such great tools available to us these days! I hope you get the same enjoyment out of photo taking as we do.