1. Use the right film. One film speed won’t work for all lighting situations so it can be tricky if you want to use one roll of film to capture your day at the park and your daughter’s indoor dance recital. 100 and 200 speed films are the least expensive but they need more light. They are good in bright and outdoor light settings. 400 speed films are great for action shots. The higher the speed of film, the easier it is to “freeze” the action. 800 speed film and higher are best for high action shots or low light situations.
2. Turn your camera. This is one of the hardest habits to break. I seem to take all my pictures in the horizontal mode. Remember to turn your camera and get the vertical shots – they are often the most dramatic and well framed. Don’t be afraid to try other angles as well for a different and unique look. Get on level with your subject (kneel down to photograph kids) for less distortion in your photos.
3. Pay attention to the background. This may sound obvious but it isn’t. Really look through your viewfinder at more than the subject of the photo. If you have ever had your pictures returned to you only to find that the picture you snapped in front of a busy background made it look like everyone had things growing out of their heads, well then you know what I am talking about. Try to find the least distracting background so the subjects of your photo stand out. Pay attention to where objects and horizon lines are behind the subject.
4. Get Close! Most pictures are taken too far away from the subject. Use your zoom lens or simply stand closer to get a picture that really captures what you want. It is like cropping your pictures without a paper trimmer. Your scrapbook pages will be more dramatic with larger photos instead of having to crop your pictures down to 2 inch squares to get rid of all the extra space in them. Try to frame faces with the frame of your viewfinder.
5. Don’t say “cheese”. Don’t ask people to stop and stifly pose and smile for the camera. You will end up with pictures that don’t capture who the people really are. The smiles will be more natural if you encourage your subject to interact with their surroundings. Catch them in the middle of an activity they enjoy or in action. Also, they don’t have to be smiling! Sincere moods of any sort make for very touching photos. Show the drama of real life and tell the stories of real people in your pictures.