October 05, 2009


Photography is one of those creative outlets that allow us unlimited possibilities. It never gets boring because the scenery keeps changing—whether we are on vacation exploring places we’ve never been, or, as our children grow older we record different stages in their lives.

Photography is a way to express your creativity, and you don’t have to be afraid to experiment!

Last week I talked about watching the background--which is vitally important. The picture below is a great example. Even though there is nothing to distract from the subject--the sun however, has lit up this baby's ears to look like he's glowing. Be careful when using outdoor lighting!

The solution is simple. By turning the baby's head--VOILA!! He is now happy, super-de-duper cute, and no longer a lit-up glow worm!

As I mentioned prior, don’t be afraid to experiment and to show your personality!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m not a very serious person—I LOVE to be goofy. Hence—that tendency shows up in my blog posts and my photos….

Last week, I also talked about the Rule of Thirds. (It's where you place your subject in any 4 corners of the camera.) Well—there are always exceptions to every rule. Sometimes it’s O.K. to place your subject in the center of the picture. (I know, it can be confusing.)
For example:

These two pictures are the exception where you can break that rule. Sometimes, it's okay to move your subject in the center of the frame--but watch the background and pay attention to the lighting.

Speaking of lighting--
Have you ever taken a picture where the subject is in the sun but the background is dark—thus washing out the background? Or vise versa—the background is bright but your subject is in the shade? When the subject of the picture is too dark, it ruins the photo.

If you've had pictures that turn out like in the example above, you MUST use a flash. If your subject is standing in the sun and there is nothing but shade or a dark background—you STILL use a flash, even when they are standing in the sun. It would seem that you wouldn't need a flash, but by doing so, it will even out the tones and not wash your subject out like the little girl above.

Also, if your subject is standing in shade and the background is bright with afternoon sun (like the picture below), use a flash to make your subject “appear” brighter against the backdrop.

Sometimes a bright background will take control of the picture and draw attention to it--rather than your subject. Like in the picture above, you can see shadows on the little girl's face and see how her body is in shadows while the background is bright. To change this, this is where you become best friends with Mr. Flash.
By using Mr. Flash, look how it changes the photo:

Don’t be afraid of a close-up picture either! Background is cool, but it shouldn’t be the center of attention. Many people make that mistake—even me. Sometimes I take a picture of the background just to get the shot—but when I place my subject in the camera frame, I come in close. You want your model or subject to be the main focus of the picture, not the background.

Don’t be afraid to crop. Here is an example of what a picture would look like normally, and after cropping.

This picture is taken before I cropped--this is still one of my favorite shots.

However, as an example, it's fun to crop and I wanted to come in close. It changes elements and draws attention to the subject. It also pulls the subject in tighter.



In the next picture below, I wanted the background because all the flowers were gorgeous.

But, this is a perfect example of when the picture could be cropped. I wanted to take out the windows in the background and focus more on the "story" of the picture. Zooming in close changes the picture. Don’t be afraid to zoom in.

This is after I cropped it:

But I played some more and I had fun finding more of the "story" inside the story. It's alright to crop even more and zoom in...

And lastly, use your creativity! Don’t be afraid to use up the whole frame of your camera lens.

Photography allows you to express YOUR individuality. How do you want to set up a picture? How do you want it to look? Vintage? Timeless? Old age? Full of color? Do you want the picture to be happy, sad, serious, solemn—goofy? What feelings do you want to express?

I seriously doubt anyone would frame this last one—well, frame my body yes, but hang it on the wall? No.

And finally, the last tip of the day - use a digital camera that allows you to take lots of photos and erase and erase! It’s cheaper and a lot more versatile than film.

If you are in the market to buy a great digital camera, my personal preferences are either Nikon or Canon. They are worth EVERY penny. Both are excellent quality. I HATE the delay in some digital cameras. Sadly, to eliminate the delay--you usually need to spend more on a camera. I actually call cameras under $100-- glorified toy cameras. The better the camera, the better the chance there will be no delay. But I could be wrong about that; digital technology is always getting better.

My advice? Go into a camera store to choose your camera. Feel it, handle it, look over the features in person. It’s safer than spending money online and getting a piece of junk. I speak from experience. I did that once. The 12 megapixel/ digital / video camera I bought off EBAY was so cheap—
“How cheap was it, Camryn?”
It was so cheap--my cell phone took better pictures. It was a high-end toy camera. It was $ down the drain and it wasn’t all that cheap. PLEASE—go into a camera store and look at the cameras. You’ll be able to ask questions from people who live and breathe cameras. Handle the cameras, find out if it has a delay, find a good value, and fall in love.
Oh yes, it is possible!

No photographer wants to set up the perfect shot—only to wait 3-4 seconds while the camera ‘thinks’ about taking the picture. There is nothing worse than snapping the best picture ever taken, only to experience a 3 second delay before the lens engages, and alas, the moment is gone. Nothing makes me crazier than when that happens! Taking pictures of kids is the perfect example; Yeah—try setting up the perfect shot and tell them to hold still for 3 seconds!
"Timmy! Hold that pose!" You shout happily, drawing their attention.
"Okay--One. Two. Thr... STOP!" They look away and you jump up and down and make unnatural noises by clicking your tongue and making high-pitch sounds you NEVER make. All the while, you act like a dork just for ONE measly smile!
"Look here!" you shout hysterically. "One. Two--TIMMY! Don't pick your nose! Hold still! No--don't wipe it and put it--! Wait--!"

Seriously. Save up your money and get a good camera. Save your hair. You don't want bald spots from ripping it out in frustration while the camera delay takes the photos you DONT want.
It’s a lot of money but it is WORTH every penny—guaranteed! You’ll be happier because your photos will look clearer, be more crisp, and have an overall better quality. Oh-- and you'll have hair. That's important too. The only down side will be the temporary dent in your checkbook :)
*Camryn owns exclusive rights to Elegant Culture. All photos taken by Camryn on Mean Mommy University are copyrighted. Please do not copy, print, or distribute in any way. Thank you!*


Christie Gardiner said...

Great post. I have an AWESOME camera and no idea how to use it. I always have it on auto. So depressing. I love your pictures, you are so talented.

Stacy said...

Thank you for the great tips! I take lots of pictures, but truthfully I am horrible at it. Once in a great while I get a good shot, but it is only by luck. I always take pictures of my kids in the fall leaves and I am going to try out your suggestions. I'll let you know how it works out.

Melinda said...

Thanks for the tips, Camryn! ;0)
You take beautiful photos ... and your subjects are just adorable. My daughter is interested in being a photographer one day. I'm going to show her this post ... It will definitely provide some inspiration!

AnnieAd said...

Great post! Elmo has to be my favorite. Who knew that turning a toy upside down and using it as a prop would be so much fun? You are so creative - - I'm proud to call you 'mine'.