A few friends have asked me lately for tips on improving their snapshots. They don’t necessarily want to go out and buy a DSLR camera or even learn how to use the manual settings on their point-and-shoot. They just want to take better pictures without having to learn any technical mumbo-jumbo (which is why the point-and-shoot was invented.)
Here are my top 5 tips for taking better snapshots. All of these example photos were taken in full automatic mode with my Fuji XP20 point-and-shoot camera, which I originally purchased for a snorkeling trip (it’s waterproof!)
Tip #1: Find or Create More Light
The majority of problems I see with snapshots are caused by poor lighting. Dark photos, blurriness, graininess, yellow or green tints (caused by indoor artificial light). The quickest fix is to go outdoors. An overcast day, early morning or evening light or shade will be your best options. Avoid full, bright sunlight which will create harsh shadows and blown out highlights in your images. If you are taking photos indoors, try to find some light coming in from a window or just turn on more lights! Avoid using your on-camera flash.
Tip #2: Pay Attention to the Background
Another common mistake I notice in snapshots are distracting items in the background of the photo. Take a few seconds to look beyond your subject. In my example photo on the left, you can see it looks like a tree is growing out of my son's head. By taking a single step to the left for my shot I have eliminated the distracting tree and neighboring rooftop from my photo.
Tip #3: Try a Different Angle
For more interesting shots, try taking your photo from a different angle. From above, below, the side, etc. For engaging images, especially of children, get down at their eye level.
Tip #4: Fill the Frame
Many a childhood photo album is full of images similar to the one you see here on the left. Lots of meaningless background surrounding a tiny little child far away in the photo. Who is the child? What are they doing? Nobody will ever know… You have a full frame for each photo. Fill it with your subject. Get a little closer. Use your zoom.
Tip #5: Capture Details Up-Close
If you really want to create some interesting photos, take tip #4 one step further and zoom in on the details. Now zoom in even closer. Isolate one part of your subject. Try cropping it in an unconventional way. This is when photography starts to get really fun. Instead of just snapping a photo, you’ll start to create meaningful images.
What challenges have you encountered while using your point-and-shoot? List them in the comments and I'll answer them in an upcoming post.