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How Busy People Take Great Photos

22 October 2007

Lots of people email me to ask, how do I take my photos? What kind of camera do I have?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some techniques I use for getting great images, and also tips and tricks in Photoshop to enhance dull photos.

If you have any more photography questions, let me know and I’ll try to answer them in my upcoming posts.

Firstly. I do have a professional design background, and having an indepth understanding of photography is part of the job – so I know about lighting, shutter speeds, apertures, composition etc. That helps a lot.

But, I’m also a mother – a busy one! Everyday I rush about here and there, carting around two boys, so I don’t have enough room in the pram for expensive, bulky camera gear, lens and tripods, not to mention time, or extra energy or brain space.

So how do I go about getting cool shots that defines THAT beautiful moment?

I’ve had to come up with various photography methods that work for me.

1) Find a camera that works for you!

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on pro camera gear and gadgets. I use a cheap, simple, compact camera, and carry it everywhere. So when the mood takes me, or a magic moment happens, the camera is there.

I currently own a Canon Powershot A700 which I throw into the bottom of the nappy bag. It rattles around with the water bottles, sun cream and sandwiches. It does get bashed around a bit, so owning an expensive pro camera is completely out of the question for me.

It’s also nice and compact, so when I’m out at a party I can pop it into my handbag.

The previous camera I had was a Canon Powershot S45 – but it mysteriously stopped working one day. The repair guy said that it had been “subject to wet conditions” so I presume my kids must have spilled something on it. The repair bill was more than a new camera.

My current camera was 6 weeks old, when I smashed the front of the lens casing. But it still takes pictures and it works just fine!

2) Turn off the Flash!

This is my number one tip for good looking photos. Most flashed photos produce a stark, over-bright, red-eyed, dark-background look.

I recommend going with natural, diffuse lighting. Pro photographers spend a lot of time getting strong diffuse light. Of course, when I’m out and about, I don’t have a strong diffuse light, so my images may blur a little.

For example – this is one of my favourite photos.

It was an overcast day (producing a nice diffuse light). I was panning the camera with the boys on the bike, so they are quite sharp, but Callum’s legs are blurred, as is the background. But it works, because you get a great sense of speed, and the effort Callum’s making. Flash would have ruined the moment.

This is a more recent photo.

I simply passed the camera (with flash already turned off) to my friend, with clear instructions “TRY not to move when you press the button!” Plus we stood very still.

Since the flash wasn’t set, the camera shutter had to be open for a long time. So the people moving past ARE blurry, and we were not. It has a nice soft light, and a cool effect in the background. This would have been a very ordinary picture with flash. It doesn’t always work, but I love the results overall.

To be continued…

I’ll be writing more about How To Take Great Photos – The Basics of Photography and Photoshop Tips and Tricks, and more!