Almost every new mother gets a flood of coupons and offers from baby-minded companies, including studio portrait photographers. But, while coupons for diapers and formula can save you money on things you need, a discounted studio portrait still counts as a luxury expense in many family budgets.
There is a way to obtain the quality of a studio portrait and, even better, preserve the spontaneity of at-home photographs for a fraction of the cost of professional photographs. But, if you’re aiming for photographs good enough to print on canvas and frame in wood, it helps to follow the practices of professionals.
Professionals know that it’s a lot less expensive to take a great photo than to retouch an imperfect one. With that in mind, here are some easy tips for creating studio-quality photos with your own digital camera.
1. Shoot In Adequate Light
“Let there be (enough) light” is the golden rule of good photography – or at least it should be. Too many great memories are shrouded in darkness because the photographer didn’t check if there was adequate lighting, or set the wrong flash duration, or simply didn’t use a flash at all. Professionals often play with light and darkness to create visually unique images, but for most people, the rule is simple – if it’s too dark, use a flash. “How dark is dark” might be a matter of how you want the final image to look, but if there are people in it and you can’t see them clearly (and you want to), that means you didn’t use the flash properly. So, this should be the first aspect to watch out for.
2. Avoid Camera Shakes
While lighting, colour and many aspects can be altered and enhanced using software applications, a blurred photo is very hard to rectify. Most high-end DSLR camera lenses today have image stabilization (IS) technology or Vibration Reduction (VR) built in, but these can cost you an arm and a leg to acquire. Here are some tips to prevent those shakes when it’s shutter time:
a) Use a tripod – This might sound obvious but it’s surprising how many people avoid a tripod like the plague because of the inconvenience of setting it up; besides, who wants to hassle with a tripod when that beautiful moment might be gone soon.
b) Cradle the camera like you would a baby – the shaking is considerably less when you do this.
c) Third tip is to use what is known as a machine-gun hold; if you’re right-handed that means you use the crook of your left arm to support the camera.
d) Last tip – stop breathing; as in, at the moment of clicking the shutter, not for the duration of the shoot!
3. Use A Variety Of Lenses
Most point-and-shoot cameras provide some lens flexibility – you can zoom in and out. But, in many ways, a camera is only as good as its lenses. So don’t spend all of your budget on a camera. Invest in three lenses a professional photographer usually depends upon: zoom, wide angle and telephoto.
a) A zoom lens – lets you get extreme close-ups without being on top of your subject. You could capture your child’s smile, for example, from across the room. (Your child’s smile might not be so natural if you shove a camera in his face.)
b) A wide angle lens – does a lot more than help you include everyone in a group shot without backing up over a cliff! It can help you create interesting angles, making your focal point appear closer and larger and the background smaller and more distant. Let’s say you are taking a picture of your family on a mountaintop. With a regular lens, both your family and the surrounding mountains look far away. A wide-angle lens allows you to get closer to your family without losing the background.
c) A telephoto lens –
It lets you spy on your family – in a good way. You can get "close-up" shots of your daughter on a swing while standing on the edge of a playground or capture your son’s touchdown while watching the game from the stands.
4. Go For The Highest Resolution
This is probably the most critical aspect of all because if your photo isn’t high-res enough, then you’ll end up with a grainy print full of nothing but coloured pixels, at best – at worst, people will have to constantly keep stepping back to see what the photo actually looks like, especially if it’s a very large print like a 24 x 72”. If you’ve already got a great photo you want to put on canvas but not high-res enough, then you can interpolate it with software – not the best option but it should do the job well enough.
Do these things and your canvas prints will come out looking like a million bucks. More often than not, people will ask you how you took such great photos. Just tell them you studied for years under the best photographers. It’ll be our little secret!
About the Guest Author:
Tim Faught, CEO and Founder of Posterjack loved what photo companies in Europe were doing and found that there was no other photo company in Canada allowing individuals to turn their works of art into canvas prints. Now 3 years later they are the leader in producing photo art in Canada.