Welcome to my summer photography tips. In this article, I’m going to look at taking portraits outdoors in the sun.
Photographing Children in the Sun
It can be really fun photographing families, especially in the summer when spirits are high. Children especially are fun to work with when you catch them in the right mood. The moments you capture can end up being treasured keep-sakes for years to come.
Sometimes though, children are not in the mood to be photographed and, no matter what you do, you just end up with images of them with a big sad bottom lip sticking out.
If you can get over that (with bribes), here are a few tips to make the most of your shots.
Hello Sun, Goodbye Sun
Generally, the days are longer at the peak of the summer, giving you more time to take pictures. Take advantage of this. Focusing your photography to early in the morning or later in the evening gives you the benefit of the sun being lower in the sky. To get warm images, which are filled with light, manoeuvre your subject in front of the rising or setting sun. Silhouettes can also make for dramatic shots.
Too Much Light ?
If the sun is too bright, you might want to consider an alternative setting. People can often look very unflattering squinting into direct sunlight. Even if they are facing away from the sun, harsh shadows can form across their faces if they are surrounded by bright backgrounds (e.g. white sand or a white-washed painted Mediterranean villas).
To counter this, try moving your subjects into some soft open shade. A tall building or trees often work well. Just remember to keep them facing towards the light from the sky. This usually produces a sufficient amount of light which is ideal for photographers.
De-clutter Your Background
It is crucial in portrait photography, whether inside or outside, is to ensure that the background of the shot is tidy. Nothing confuses the brain more than to see a great portrait what has lots of ‘noise’ going on in the background.
If it really is impossible, or too much work clearing the background, then just cut that out by zooming into your subject. You can do this in two ways. Either with the camera’s zoom, or by moving yourself closer to the subject. It’s a very simple tip but very effective.
Another tip is to simply place your subject against a plain background. Try using a painted fence or garage door. Remember this is portrait photography – you are focusing on the upper part of their body and head. Don’t just take a full length shot of them against a plain background – that will just look boring. Alternatively, a doorway is a good way to frame the picture.
Despite what I’ve said above, don’t entirely rule out background shots. They make for great ‘scene setters’ and act as reminders to your family of special places in their lives. The same rules apply however – keep them clutter-free.
For example, if you are taking a photo of a view, don’t have a load of trash cans placed in the foreground. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people finally get round to looking at their photos only to be disappointed with the additional junk that they didn’t think they’d captured.
Change Your View
If you are close to your subject, get to their eye level and keep the focus on their eyes. As you get more experienced, you might want to experiment with the composition by placing the subject off-center.
Read the Manual
You can get really great photos with point and shoot cameras. However, as simple as these cameras are, it’s still a good idea to familiarize yourself with the settings.
The ‘portrait setting’ (which is shown by a silhouette of a head and shoulders) is the one you’ll want for taking pictures of friends or family where they are the main focus of the composition.
The result of the shot will be to create a slightly blurry background so your attention focuses on the main subject.
The ‘sports setting’ (often indicated by running silhouettes) will set your camera up with a faster shutter speed. This will freeze the action and is ideal for capturing fast-moving subjects, such as children running about in your garden.
Smiling Without the Cheese
How many times have you heard a photographer say to his subjects “Say CHEESE”? It’s the worst thing you can do. It just creates a load of false smiles and grins. Just be patient and wait for the right moment.
Summary – Have Fun
In the summer, you should expect to see happy smiling faces, as people tend to be more relaxed and in a good mood (as long as it’s not too hot). As a photographer, you should be equally as chilled out. Try telling a joke or making them laugh. Get ‘into the spirit’ of the occasion.
You want to capture people’s natural character remember. Don’t line them all up like soldiers and expect ‘natural’.
Get them to talk about things they like or the surrounding area.
Further Reading :
- Outdoor Action Photography Tips
- Outdoor Party Photography Tips
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