Some very basic tips for beginners that are easy to follow and instantly improves the results independent of camera brand and type.

Know your camera

Take some time and learn how to operate your camera, check how to use the flash, check the different program modes (presets) your camera has. Learn how to zoom, focus, force flash off/on and finally review a captured image. Usually there is a mode selector which contains a number of presets that are usefull for different situations. Try a couple of them at home and learn when to use them.

Communicate with your subject

Talk to your model and use direct eye contact for best results. Try to level the camera correctly especially for small childrens where you have to work from a very low perspective. Tell the subject what to do and what you are doing. Be polite and kind, it is very important to keep everyone in a good mode, since in the end you need that perfect smile. It is not easy for the model to know what to do and waht looks good, talk, talk, talk and listen!

Think about the scene lighting and use your flash

In most cases it is important to have the main light falling in from your back (towards the subject without your shadow in the image). Somethimes you have to rearrange the subject so the light looks better or perhaps wait until the light situation is better. If it is impossible to fix existing light, you need to use your flash or a white reflector to bounce the light. Is is very important that the light is evenly spread over the complete subject, mixing dark and light regions in one image usually generates problems for the camera and will be very visible in the image.

As a rule of thumb always use fill flash when taking photos of people, independen of it is a late night party shoot or daytime out door beach images in the sun.

Main subject in focus

Make sure your main subject is in focus, especially if the main subject is not in the center of the image. When the shot is done pres play on the camera and zoom in into the image to check focus.

Work very close to your subject

Close upp images are very usable for both web and print. Beginners tend to shot overview images that fits everything in every image, photographers take many close ups and one overview. Close up images can be taken both with the zoom lens zoomed out (wide) and zoomed in (tele), try both they will look very different!

Example close up

© 2006 Stefan Lundberg

Think about image composition

This is the most difficult part how to compose your shot, this requires a lot of practice so start thinking of this already as a beginner!
It exists some general and good guidlines that are safe and usually works, but many really good images break them by purpouse. To be able to break the rules you have to know the rules so begin by playing according to the rules.

Prepare and arrange

Prepare and arrange some of your images. Certain types of images need small but very important setups, first find out what you want, then where and how, finalize your arrangement by firing off an empty shot – do not forget to look at the shot and se if the camera does what you want. When everything is perfect and only people are missing, kindly tell everybody you want in the photo to pose where you want them, and do whatever you planned. This can be very fun even for the people in the shop, infact most images you see that are really good are arranged or planned to some extent.

Delete bad images

When you arrive home, download and start working with your images af soon as possible. Start by deleting unusable images and duplicates. During this work, images that you are uncertian about might be saved longer. To avoid them from filling up your work area, throw them in a working directory. Some images might be possible to fix in post processing but never ever count on that in the field when you still have a chance to a easy retake.

Take many images

It cost virtually nothing to take extra images, some images you take fail because something unexpected happens when you press the shutter. In other situations you simply have people in front of the camera with constantly changing body language or face expression. This means that you need to take a couple of images to be shure to have good selection. But try to take the images from sligtly different angels, it is of no use to have countless identical images.

Create a gallery with your best images

This is your finished product and is very funny to share with you friends and with the people in the image. This gallery shall only contain good images, it is better to delete one image to much than filling up with bad stuff. You can always go back and add more images, if the gallery turns out to be popular. The best way of sharing images is by using the web and publish scaled down JPEG files for easy and fast access.

Following these rules will improve your images!