Summer is almost here in Minnesota, and that means the inevitable coming of Kool-Aid moustaches, grill outs and great family get togethers.
A lot of moms and dads will pull out their point and shoot cameras with the hopes of capturing timeless action shots to share and reminisce for years to come.
I photograph a lot of different types of events, from annual corporate galas and silent auction fundraisers to community gatherings, like Woodbury Days and the Woodbury Community Expo happening this weekend. Today I want to share some simple ways to make your family event images stronger and more visually appealing.
Whether you are photographing a corporate event or Uncle Hank burning the hot dogs, a lot of the same techniques apply when you click the shutter button. So, before you grab your camera to document the next legendary family story, keep these eight simple tips in mind
1. Use the Rule of Thirds for stronger composition by imagining your viewfinder as a tic-tac-toe board. Place your subject matter at the intersecting points. This is more appealing to your viewer's eye than subjects placed smack dab in the middle.
2. Change your perspective to fit your subject matter. If you are photographing a child or a pet, for example, get down to their level by bending your knees or stretching out flat on the ground.
3. Keep your background clean and clutter free. Look at both your subject matter and the background as they are equally important in the final image. So, if Uncle Hank has the American flag growing out of his head while he burns the hot dogs, you should move to a different location before snapping away.
4. On bright sunny days, put your subject's back to the sun and use your flash to brighten up their silhouetted faces. This also works well when you are getting dark shadows on the eyes (or raccoon eyes) from direct overhead sunlight.
5. Get off the automatic setting on your camera. Most cameras typically have multiple scene settings. Play around with them based on your specific scenario. If you are photographing people or flowers, try the portrait setting which will blur out the background. Like I always remind my Mom, do not worry, you will not break the camera. Just remember to change it for each shot if the setting changes.
6. Go in close. Do not be afraid to get in close to your subject. If you think you are too close, go in closer and be sure the camera is still able to focus.
7. Photograph other details about the event besides just the people. After you get Uncle Hank and the three-foot flames, be sure to get an image of the charred dogs or his singed eyebrows. These help tell the whole story and make great filler images if you decide to create a book or slideshow.
8. Finally, try to get a lot of different expressions, in lieu of smiles all the time. Surprised, excited, concentrated, amazed and even crying faces can help tell the real story about the events that took place. And when the crying is all done after cleaning up the spilt Kool-Aid, remember to get a photo of the moustache!
Tom Dunn is an international award-winning photographer who specializes in business and fine art photography. He also photographs events for the Woodbury Days Council, Woodbury Chamber of Commerce and the Woodbury Community Foundation. You can view more of Tom's work on his website at www.tomdunnphoto.com.