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10 Tips for Great Home Photos

It’s been a busy Christmas in spite of the economic gloom and doom so thank you to all my valued customers!

However not everyone can afford a family portrait session or a professional headshot so here’s a quick 10-point How-To Guide to taking great pictures either at home or in the office.

Natural Light

Often the best shots come from natural light. The orientation of your home/office to the sun is something to think about. If back windows get the sun in the morning but you want to take photos in a front-facing room then it might be better to wait until later in the day when the sun has moved round.

Tears and Tantrums

Babas, toddlers and business leaders can all be tricky customers – alert and bouncy one minute then tired and fractious the next. The younger the subject the more you have to think about when they are going to be at their best. If they always sleep after breakfast then that might not to be the best time to get out the camera! Just before lunch might not be the best time for business people so pick your shoot-time carefully!

Background

Have you ever taken a brilliant shot only to find that there’s something distracting in the background? Classics include lampshades coming out of heads, wonky pictures on the wall, brand names or posters that are cut off or intrude. Look objectively at the background and decide what you want to include before you start shooting.

Help in Doom and Gloom!

If you don’t get much natural light then the next best option is to use flash or room lights. Where you place the light is important – overheard lights should be avoided as the light falls harshly on skin tones. Lamps are better, and if placed behind and in front, slightly to one side, then you’re nearly ready to start shooting.
Professionals use light kits, diffusers and bouncers to ensure the light hitting the subject is softened. You can improvise by shooting against natural diffusers such as white kitchen cabinets, fridges and placing white sheets under your chin to remove the shadows.

Know Your Camera/Phone’s Limitations

Get to know your way around your camera/phone. You will have to learn to juggle the shutter speech (higher speed means less light) and the f-stop (bigger/smaller hole in lens for light to come through). This is second nature to professional photographers but can be achieved at home through trial and error.

Flash

If you notice the images you’re taking have lots of shadow around them then make the subject move away from the background if it is a wall. If you have the option to tilt the flash head then bounce it off the ceiling to soften the light. There are other tricks but I really would be putting myself out of a job if I divulged them all. If in doubt avoid flash!

Caught in the Headlights!

Many people hate having their photo taken. You can be the most technically proficient photographer out there but if you can’t relax your subject then you’ve lost before you’ve started. I always talk to my clients about the image they want to project – business leader, professional listener, approachable or fun. Teenagers can also be self-conscious and once again I have a few tricks up my sleeve!

File Sizes

There’s nothing worse than taking a great shot only to find there is not enough memory to blow it up to the size you want. Weigh up file sizes – more is better than less. You can always edit as you go along so you keep the number of shots lower.

Start Shooting

Robert Capa, one of the world’s great photojournalists said, “If your photograph isn’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” So don’t be afraid to get close up and personal. But, take your time doing so otherwise you might actually scare your sitter id you suddenly loom over them!

Finally – Have Fun!

We all want great photos so try to have fun. Turn up the music, share a few bad joked. My personal preference is a bit of self-deprecation!

If you’ve tried all the above and still can’t get the shots then you know where I am!

July 2012

Juggling client shoots and personal work means putting my own projects last at the moment. I’m disappointed to have missed the excitement of Dulwich Artists Open House 2012 where local artists open their homes to the public and showcase work but on the plus side it means business is booming during these difficult times.

My latest project explores the many strange and exotic items people choose to collect. If you would like to be involved and have your portrait taken please do email liz@lizemerson.co.uk and we can chat about your passion with a view to organizing a shoot with a complimentary portrait thrown in, as thanks.