Monday, October 11, 2010

How To: Take Better Pics with Your Point-and-Shoot

I am a self-proclaimed frustrated photographer: I just never seem to be able to take pictures exactly how I want them.  For the past year I have been toying with the idea of buying a DSLR (fancy large camera with cool lens), but I just can't give up the portability and ease of my good old Sony point-and-shoot.  So, I am going to work with what I have and embrace my small sensor, low megapixels, and auto-everything.  Inspired by an article on, here are a few tips to taking cooler pics with your pocket camera...along with some of my favorite pictures I have managed to take.

  • Think of your camera as a visual diary.  Memories fade so take a snap of any time, place, or person you want to remember when you are old and senile.
  • Go for candid shots.  Forget cheesy fake grins, the sorority squat, and other equally boring photos.  Go for the sneak attack and get much more interesting pictures.  I recently read an interview of Annie Leibovitz where she said she died a little inside the first time she saw her daughter put on a fake smile for a camera.  Go for real.
  • Fill your frame.  Get close up, use the macro setting, and shrink the background.  
  • Get down on their level.  When shooting kids or pets, get to their eye level.
  • To flash or not to flash.  I personally hate the flash, and I try to take every picture without one.  If you are looking for a very Terry Richardson/American Apparel look, stick with the flash.  Otherwise, try to loose it when you can.
  • Take the un-obvious angle.  You don't shoot postcards for a living, so mix it up.
  • Portrait of self taken by self.  I am so incredibly guilty of this it is sick.  I am the queen of the arm in front holding the camera hoping to get more than a sliver of my face in a shot.  I must remember: A) just ask someone to take my picture if I'm alone, B) almost all cameras have self-timers.
  • Put your camera away at concerts and sporting events.  Enjoy your concert and sport events and keep the cameras to a minimum.  I saw Lady Gaga over a year ago at Terminal 5 and so many people were taking pictures and video, she actually stopped the performance to tell people to put that crap away and just enjoy the show.  Looking back I am glad I snapped a few shots, but most of them turned out horribly anyway.
  • Black & White.  Change up the tones with your photo software.  Black and white or sepia give pics a cool vibe and a classic look.  Perfect for weddings.  I also totally dig toy cameras.
  • Trash them.  For every 5 pictures you take, delete four.  Only keep the best, most interesting ones.  Everything else it just clogging your computer.
  • Get prints made.   Don't just upload your pics to Facebook...actually get copies made.  For Christmas this year, I am going jump on Snapfish and get my friends prints of the best pics they have taken this year.  I like to opt for the glossy finish and white border to add a dash of class.

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