5 Easy Tips for Taking Better People Pictures

Anyone  — regardless of the kind of camera they use — can vastly improve the people pictures they take by keeping a few basic photography principles in mind. Not to talk myself out of a job, but here are a few hints for taking better pictures of your friends and family:

  1. Go outside. Nothing improves a photo more than good light, and the easiest way to achieve that is to step out your front door and turn off the dread flash.
  2. Look for open shade. Bright, sunny days are beautiful, but in photos they often result in squinty eyes and harsh shadows. Find a big, solid patch of shade and angle your subject towards the sun — you’ll get much more even, flattering light and pretty catchlights in the eyes.
    Eek, full sun! Harsh shadows and dark eye sockets abound.

    Eek, full sun! Harsh shadows and dark eye sockets abound.

    Rolling around under a shady tree. Much more even, flattering light and pretty catchlights.

    Rolling around under a shady tree. Much more even, flattering light and pretty catchlights.

  3. Get on your subject’s level. The easiest way to improve a kid photo, by far. Squat, kneel, sit, lay down flat on your stomach (that’s what I do!). Getting the camera at the child’s eye level really helps. That being said … Have the subject look up at you. Shooting from above has many advantages, from a simple change of pace, to brightening up eyes, to elongating the neck to a much more flattering angle.
    Typical parent hey-you-down-there snap ...

    Typical parent hey-you-down-there snap ...

    ... becomes more interesting when taken from the child

    ... becomes more interesting when taken from the child's perspective,

    ... and even more interesting when taken with the subject looking up.

    ... and even more interesting when taken with the subject looking up.

  4. Eliminate background clutter. Pay attention to what’s behind your subject. Frequently moving just a bit can create a much nicer photograph.
    My son models a baby prop, and appears to have a tree growing out of his head.

    My son models a baby prop, and appears to have a tree growing out of his head.

    Moving just a few steps to my right easily fixes the problem.

    Moving just a few steps to my right easily fixes the problem.

  5. Use the rule of thirds. A simple photography principle, the rule of thirds states that if you separate your image into thirds both horizontally and vertically, your eye is drawn to the intersections of the lines. In other words, don’t put your subject smack-dab in the middle of the picture.

    For example, in this photo of my son, I made sure his eyes fell at the intersection of two lines.

    For example, in this photo of my son, I made sure his eyes fell at the intersection of two lines.

  • June 7, 2009 - 11:33 am

    tara leigh - you are such a delicious little biscuit… this is so true.

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