In the modern photographers world cameras allow the user to erase ugly pictures. So why are family and vacation pictures mostly ugly? In the days when film was the ONLY way to create a photograph it was understandable to find a family photo with the kitchen refrigerator or a garbage can in the background. Crazy Uncle Fred couldn’t really help it if sometimes in the family group shot someone sneezed. But today’s cameras don’t commonly use film, they store pictures digitally. You can look at the picture instantly and ERASE ugly. Film is expensive and limits the number of possible pictures to however many 36 exposure rolls are in your pocket–maybe you just live with the ugly shots BECAUSE: Today one chip the size of a quarter can store over 1000 pictures.
Yet even with the new cheaper, lighter, erasable digital medium the average photo album is still littered with lousy backgrounds, poor posture and bad composition; WHY? Think about your shots whenever you can. Ages ago, under the schooling of my father(who bought my film and paid for the processing) I would constantly hear his mantra of composition, “PLAN the picture, don’t just waste film.” Most of the time we can all improve our photos by just actually looking at what we want a picture of and thinking it over first before we push the button. Look for junk in the foreground and background of your picture that you don’t want and GET RID OF IT BEFORE you take the picture. Without subjecting yourself(or the family) to posing people select a nice background for everyone to gather in front of. Don’t just line them up in front of the restaurant door.
Painter’s take more time to make a picture and they have developed techniques over centuries that can help photographers improve their work. One such idea is the rule of thirds. Look at what is framed in your viewfinder and divide it into 3 parts from top to bottom in your head by drawing TWO lines from left to right across this frame when you take that picture of Mom or your significant other. Put the eyes on the top line & adjust the field of view so that the persons head is completely within the frame and their chin is on the lower line. BAM! instant improvement.
Now just to kick it up a notch before you snap that portrait. Offset the subject slightly, DON’T CENTER THEM in the frame & don’t have them look directly at you. You don’t have to snap a profile shot–just let them look at something a little to one side of you, over your shoulder or something. Now make sure you aren’t staring up their nostrils and then let the area in front of the subjects gaze be slightly larger than the area behind their hair. You will be impressed with the improvement this makes in your work.