We live in a really visual world. Every minute we are surrounded by thousands of images and we certainly play a major role this with our facebook, twitter and instagram feeds. Taking pictures today is easier than ever before. Our phones take amazing photos, really cheap point and shoot cameras can record an insane number of megapixels and there’s almost no end to how much you can spend on a digital reflex.
This is also the time of the year when our cameras awake from the cold winter post in the back of the closet to start again on their journey toward storytelling and beauty.
I’m Simone Ballerini, a portrait photographer based in Florence. You can find my work at www.simoneballerini.com
I specialize in maternity, family and kids photography and for the next weeks I’ll be sharing few tips on how to improve the pictures you take.
Whether it be your family, your kids or the monuments of the city you’re visiting, taking great and meaningful pictures is just a matter of having a curious eye, keeping some basic principles in mind, practicing and most of all having fun!
Technically taking a picture means letting some light hit a photosensitive material closed in a box. This hasn’t changed since the beginning of photography, no matter how fancy or expensive your camera is.
Pro DSLR and point and shoot cameras are all designed to do this. The only thing that has changed is the amount of control you can have on the process.
To expose a photograph you need to set three variables: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Manual cameras allow you to set all the numbers and be in full control. Auto point and shoot devices instead take out the responsibility and sometimes the headache of choosing the right setting.
I know this sounds a bit technical and boring, but some time should be spent learning how to use your gear. It takes a bit of practice and some upsetting results at the beginning, but you’re in for the long run and the reward can be compelling and beautiful pictures.
Let’s start and see what happens when we photograph people.
This newly wed couple is aspecting their first child and I’ve been so lucky as to be called to document this delicate, meaningful and beautiful moment.
We decided to start with some pictures outside taking advance of the setting sun and then to move the shoot inside for few others portraits.
When shooting people outdoors you need to pay attention to the direction the light is coming from and where you put your subject in relation to the sun.
If you put her directly in front of the sun she’ll be well lit for sure, but it’ll be hard to find any pleasing expression or interact with her squinting the eyes try to avoid the harsh light.In these cases it is best to put the sun directly behind the subject so you can have an even light on the face avoiding strong shadows on the eyes and under the nose and chin.
Another great tip for taking great photos in bright sunlight, perhaps if you’re shooting at noon when the light is considered not particularly flattering for portraits, is to look for open shade to stand your subject in. Sheltered form the sun she can now benefit of a great amount of beautiful soft light, free to move and interact with the camera.
Another way to interact with the sun is to have the light coming from the side of the subject. This way you can reveal forms and shape in a more 3D look.
This is great for maternity or details shots where you want to enhance the curve of a bump or the texture of an object or fabric.
All the numbers and settings of cameras are useless if used as a cold technical exercise. The purpose of a photography is to tell a story. Whether it is your family, a stranger, an event or an inanimate object, there’s always a reason you bring the camera to your eyes and shoot a frame. Learning the gear and the components of photography must serve this purpose.
To look for the inner moments of a son playing, your spouse reading a book by a window, a beautiful landscape or some action happening in the street, everyone of us has something that moves us and we want to freeze in time.
All the knowledge about aperture, shutter speed or photoshop can’t replace a curious attitude toward life and the people we love.
Next week we’ll find out what are the challenges when shooting indoors.
In the meanwhile there’s a picture waiting somewhere five meters around you, take your camera and go out looking for some beauty.