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No. 1: Keep a camera handy to avoid that frustrating “If I only had a camera” moment.
No. 2: Get closer to your subject to show off the subject and eliminate distracting backgrounds.
No. 3: Find the light. Watch out for shadows on the face, but do use other shadows to help tell the story. Use soft light from overcast days and first light of morning and last light of twilight. When indoors, try moving your subject toward the soft, ambient light by a window. Use a flash outdoors on cloudy days to brighten people’s faces.
No. 4: Keep people busy. People will appear less stiff if they’re doing something, so get them involved in an activity.
No. 5: Change your point of view. To avoid the ubiquitous “chorus line” in front of a scenic overlook, try getting up on a bench to shoot down at them. Move your subjects and your camera so you have the picture that looks best.
Tips from a pro
Malcolm Denemark, veteran photographer at FLORIDA TODAY, has these suggestions on taking photographs. Note, these tips appeared in a FLORIDA TODAY story years ago, but they’re still valid.
No. 1: Be patient. If you’re setting up a specific shot, keep calm and click away.
No. 2: Get close. If you’re shooting detail shots or visiting the vendors, you can use a macro (close-up) lens and get as close as 6 inches to whatever it is you’re shooting.
No. 3: Or on the other hand, stand back. Try using a telephoto lens to zoom in on your subject. That way, you can maintain your distance.
No. 4: Take multiple shots. When using a digital camera, remember that sometimes they have slight delays, forcing you to try repeatedly.
No. 5: Avoid distractions. Be conscious of your background and keep it nice and clean, rather than cluttered. Out-of-focus big green leaves look good, but something like a big red flower hanging behind the subject can be distracting.
No. 6: Mind those around you. Be careful not to hurt or injure anyone while taking pictures. Remember the youngsters.
No. 7: Off-center is good. Regarding composition, try putting the subject off-center. There’s a rule of thirds in photography, which divides the image plane into thirds both vertically and horizontally. Where those lines intersect off-center is the most pleasing place to put your main image.