In a way, life is visually recorded through the lens of a camera. Just think of all the memories and events we would miss if we were not clicking away. Memories of grandchildren growing up, special family events, vacations, and all the other meaningful occasions that take place in our lifetime. Then there are all the national and world events that make headlines, large and small, every day. We are witnessing history in the making-presidential inaugurations, men on the moon, dictators toppled, war and all its horrors – sometimes more than we want to know.
So if you are recording your own history you want to do a good job of it. My Aunt faithfully recorded my family’s history, especially her nephews and nieces as they came to adulthood. She passed those images on to us as Christmas presents in her later life. They are certainly precious, maybe even a little heartbreaking at times, remembering parents and siblings who are no longer with us and we cherish all of those images.
So if you are keepingthe family history or recording a special event or just having fun, here are some ways to improve your images.
1. Read your camera’s manual! It has loads of useful information on what your particular camera is capable of that you might otherwise miss out on. For example, some cameras will have manual as well as automatic modes, ability to shoot with and without the built-in flash, shooting at night and many more options. For the more advanced digital SLR cameras the manual is invaluable in learning the range of its possibilities.
2. Learn the rules so you can break them: Composition is one of the basic prerequisites for a good outcome. There are many ways to make your photos more interesting, change your point of view when you view your subject through the camera lens, consider sitting down instead of standing, shoot at eye level to your subject, lie on your back, kneel down or shoot close up which sometimes abstracts the image in an interesting way. And consider the way converging lines are effective. Exampleswould be railroad train tracks, cars’ brake lights at night, any long road into the distance. You will see that it makes you really pay attention to the set up of the shot rather than just “pointing and shooting.”
3. When you are composing the shot remember from an artistic point of view to try to set the shot up so that you can lead the viewer in to the picture to the focal point. Examples would be a shot of a pathway through the woods leading to a beautiful waterfall, a stand of trees, or to a loved one beyond engaged in some activity.
4. Educate your eye – one sure way of becoming a better photographer is to study the great artists through the ages for their interpretation of good composition. Also be sure to look at photographers’ websites whose work you enjoy. We have access to so much information these days that it really is a simple way to see into the past as well as looking at present day images of art –contemporary,abstract, still life, portraits, animal art, nature and the list goes on.
By looking at works of art you can become educated as to what interests you in terms of lighting, placement of objects, compelling subjects and where to place your center of interest. Go to museums, street art fairs, art leagues, artist websites and photographic websites, take classes, join a camera club, and get opinions of your work from your family and friends. Experiment! Make it a joyful learning exercise.
5. Last, if you have taken a really interesting subject but it really does not look as you thought it would, experiment with an editing software program like Photoshop to do some of the work for you, a class which I teach in and around Marco Island and Naples. You can email me for times and places.
In future columns, I will be adding to this list of ways to improve your own photographic history. If you have a particular topic you would like me to discuss please email me at Carol@JimKinkead.com.