May and June lavish us with celebratory occasions: Mother’s Day, graduations, weddings, Father’s Day—not to mention the plethora of birthdays, picnics, anniversaries and adventures. A camera is perhaps the most necessary accessory of the season. But many of us don’t really know how to use one. We can point and shoot; but how can we take better photos of all these people we love so much?
With the season of celebration in mind, SHE founder and photographer Suzette Hibble offers five tips for improving your portrait photography.
- Shoot during the “Golden Hours”: Using the gorgeous quality of either early morning light or that of dusk, you can’t go wrong. There are fewer shadows at these times of day, and no harsh sunlight, so during these hours you can shoot most anywhere. “I always aim to put the sun behind my subject. This eliminates any shadows.”
- Shoot in natural light: If you can’t shoot during the Golden Hours, you can still achieve softer effect by choosing a spot either near a window or outside. If you chose outside, make sure to stand your subject in the shade near a bright light source. This is called “open shade” This allows the subject to be well lit by the existing light, but eliminates any harsh glare or shadows from direct sunlight.
- Chose the eye as focal point: If you know how to play with the settings on your camera, try moving the focal point to your subject and placing it just near the subject’s eye, guaranteeing this will be the most in focused part of the image. “ People often ask me how I get such incredible detail in the eyes of my subjects. When I shoot, I constantly move the focus point around so that it sits on or near my subject’s eyes in each photo.”
- Try something other than Automatic Mode: Start by just playing with aperture priority. If you are photographing a single subject such as a child, it’s usually best to work at a high aperture; but note: this is where it gets confusing as a “high aperture” is represented by a lower number, such as of F2.8. Don’t despair: Simply try setting your aperture to 2.8 and see what happens. The best way to understand aperture is to think of it as the controls for the pupil of an eye – the wider it gets, the more light it lets in. “So, broken down clearly, all you really need to know is the wider the aperture (F1.4), the shallower the depth of field, which creates a softness, a kind of beautiful blur, behind and in front of your subject.”
- Connect with your subject: This is the key to a good picture. Depending on your subject, tricks vary. With kids, you can play little games, or get them excited about something. With adults, visualization can go a long way in breaking down barriers and setting the subject at ease. “I often play out a scene for adult clients, and ask them to pretend they in their fantasy world, something like: ‘You are walking off a plane, and you look over here and see the love of your life; your eye light up and you smile.’ Sometimes it’s kind of corny, but trust me, it works!”
These tips will help even the most amateur shutterbug capture beautiful memories. But for those occasions when only excellent professional portraiture will do, Visit SHE Photography.