Friday, 21 December 2012

Find Out About Friday - Five Tips for Better Photographs this Christmas

I am so excited to bring you this week’s Find Out About Friday – Five tips from professional photographer Ed Westwood to help us all get better photos this Christmas.  I was chatting to Ed about how disappointed I always am with my Christmas photos and he shared several really practical tips which I know I can use.  Imagine then how thrilled I was when he agreed to share his top five tips with all of you too – and with the very special offer he is sharing with us all at the end!

Firstly let me tell you a little more about Ed – he is a corporate PR and commercial photographer who delights his clients with event or studio based images. His clients range from multinational companies to sole traders and he has been published in local media.  Ed also has a growing portraiture and private events business through Memories and Moments by Ed Westwood Photography – oh and as those of you who have met him will know, he is a really great person too!

So over to Ed for his Top 5 Tips for taking better Photos this Christmas
5 Tips for Better Photographs this Christmas - great and practical tips from a professional!

Hello everyone – I hear from a lot of people that they often feel the photos they take are not as good as they would like and that they wish they had better photos to help them remember special times such as Christmas.  With this in mind I am pleased to be able to share 5 simple tips to help you get the best possible photos this Christmas, whatever camera you are using, Compact, DSLR or even your mobile phone

Tip 1 - Simple is often better.  

Don’t try to cram too much into your photos as it will all get lost in a very busy picture.  If you want to take a picture of one of your children opening their presents then do just that.  Include your child, their presents and don’t worry about the Christmas tree, cards on the mantel pieces, other guests, fantastic Christmas spread etc, etc... you get the idea.  You can always take another picture of them!

Tip 2 - Move to get the image you want.  

Move around the room to include what you want and take pictures whilst you are doing it.  Grandpa asleep after Christmas lunch might look better from the front instead of the side – and you might get a shot you really like somewhere in between.  Think about height as well as position in the room.   A simple rule of thumb is that subjects generally look better if you take a photo at their eye level.  That could mean kneeling if you’re photographing children or getting even lower if you want that fantastic shot of a pet.

Tip 3 - Look at the whole picture before taking the photo.  

Everyone has seen those funny images where someone has a palm tree growing out of their head but it is surprisingly easy to do.  You will be focusing on your subject and waiting for just the right moment but take a few seconds to look at around the picture.  What’s behind them, next to them and in the foreground.  A simple step to the right or left might make all the different and turn an amusing but unusable photo into an amazing one.

Tip 4 - Vary your lighting.  

Don’t be afraid to open curtains or turn on lights when taking photos this Christmas.  The flashes that come on cameras are getting better but are still  one directional and can lead to unflattering shadows and reflections – not to mention the dreaded red eye.  If you find yourself in a dark situation this Christmas then I would recommend trying non-direct natural light first (opening the curtains), then overhead lighting and use your flash as a final resort.  No two situations are the same so if have a chance, try all three, and see which results you like best.
Also, if you find very dark areas in a well lit photograph then you might have an issue with uneven or direct light.  Try evening the light out by removing very bight sources or adding a bit more to the dark areas.

Special Tip: 
If there is not enough light then this will not always show as a dark image on your camera screen.  Sometimes too little light results in slow shutter speed leading to a blurred image.  Add more light and try again.

Tip 5 - Take lots of photos.  

Once you’ve bought a camera and memory cards taking extra photos is virtually free so snap away.  When I’m shooting a simple PR event outside of the studio my client worthy shots may be somewhere between 1 in 5 and 1 in 10.  So if my clients wants 10 good photos then I will be taking at least 100, but usually more.

For important moments keep snapping as you don’t know whether your favourite photo will be the first or the last.

Look at your images on the camera screen after the first shot if this moment to check if there is anything significantly wrong with the images.  In particular that they are not too dark and there is no unwanted items in the frame. Taking lots of photos is especially important when there are multiple people as I am continually amazed at how people manage to blink at just the wrong moment..!

If you are taking photographs at a particularly import event then see if you can arrive early and take a few test shots to find the best vantage point and if you are having Christmas at home you can take some practice shots at different times of day too.

Bonus tip:  Taking better photos doesn’t stop once the images have been captured.  Careful image selection, especially if you have taken multiple photos of a single event is just as important.  A good way to do this is to think of the story you are trying to tell and keep it simple.  A photo really is worth a thousand words so sharing hundreds of photos will overwhelm even the most enthusiastic viewer.

I hope these tips help you get better photos this Christmas and the most important thing is to enjoy the results of your photography.  There are so many ways to share your fantastic images so don’t let them just sit on a computer somewhere. 

However you view them, enjoy them, and Ed Westwood Photography wishes you a very Snappy Christmas and an image filled New Year.

Thanks Ed! I don’t know about the rest of you but I can’t wait to put these tips into action and then to have better Christmas Photo’s to scrap and to enjoy.

Now that special offer I mentioned …

Ed has just stated to offer hands on photography courses.  His day long Digital Photography, Getting Better Results Course is great for those who want to learn about what their DSLR or Bridge camera can really do who want to take their camera off automatic.  You can read all about it here.

The usual price of a place on this fab course is £99 but if you quote Feeling Crafty when you book before the end of March 2013 your place will cost just £50  - now that really is a great Christmas Present from Ed that will keep giving!  Places on each course are carefully limited so book as soon as possible - just email him and don't forget to mention Feeling Crafty to get your discount!

Happy Stampin'
Bekka Prideaux - Stampin' Up! in UK, Nederlands, Österreich, Deutschland & France.  Top Demonstrator.  Buy Stampin' Up! or start your own Stampin' Up! business. Join Stampin' Up! here.

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