When the district communications specialist isn’t available to cover a special event, don’t let the chance to document and promote it pass you by. Every picture tells a story and taking great pictures is a snap! This guide will tell you how.
Step 1: Know who you can and cannot photograph
Some students have restrictions from parents/guardians who do not want their children photographed. Your communications specialist or main office staff should have a list of these students. If you are taking group shots and do not want to make these students feel left out, put the students on the outside of the group so they can be cropped out later.
Step 2: Learn the basics
It sounds like simple advice, but get to know your camera or the camera feature on your cell phone, iPhone or iPad. This will help you get acclimated and help you to better understand the features and functions available. Many cameras come with a tutorial on CD or DVD – watch it! The tutorials are designed to be quick and painless. For iPhone or iPad users, there are lots of online videos and tutorials available, depending on the model of your device.
Basic Camera Settings
Manual: mode where you can specify everything.
Automatic: mode where the camera will make a best guess; don’t shy away from auto settings. These modes can often improve the quality of photos.
Programmed: mode where certain characteristics are pre-determined.
Step 3: Use the Correct Camera Resolution
Set your camera, cell phone camera or iPad to the highest resolution available. For digital SLR and digital point-and-shoot cameras, it is worth investing in an 8 GB or larger memory card to accommodate for larger file sizes and video footage.
What is Resolution? Resolution is the amount of detail that the camera can capture. It is measured in pixels (the individual dots that make up the image). The more pixels, the more detail and the larger your photos can be without becoming blurry or grainy. Photos that are used in printed publications must be high-resolution, while those used on websites can be low-resolution. Photos that are large in file size can always be reduced, but photos that are smaller in file-size can NOT be enlarged without compromising the quality of the image. So, if you want to ensure your photos can be used in many different ways, always shoot at the highest possible resolution.
Remember this: HIGHER RESOLUTION = MORE PIXELS = MORE DETAIL = BETTER PRINT QUALITY
Step 4: Consider Composition
Now that you’re comfortable with all of the things your camera can do, here are some tips for moving from good photos to great photos.
People and kids are far more interesting than “stuff.” For example, if you receive a donation of books for your classroom, photos of the teacher and students holding books, or even better— READING the books—are far more interesting than a photo of a pile of books.
Look your subject in the eye: Direct eye contact can be as engaging in a picture as it is in real life. When taking a picture of someone, hold the camera at the person’s eye level.
For children, that means getting down to their level. It doesn’t mean that the subject has to stare at the camera. That eye-level angle alone will create a personal and inviting feeling.
Framing and Directing
Use the Rule of Thirds: center stage doesn’t always make the perfect picture… Ever notice those lines running horizontally and vertically on your camera’s LCD screen? Well, you might think that the grid is there to help you compose everything in the center, but it’s actually quite the opposite. The lines intersect at areas (designated by the red dots) that are considered “power points.” By placing main elements and subjects at the power points, you create a more balanced photograph and engage the viewer more effectively. The photograph will be more aesthetically pleasing and easy on the eye.
Fill the frame with your subject—get a little closer. You can use editing software to crop out unnecessary parts of the composition, but you can also move in closer to your subject and start off with an effective photo. If you want a close-up photo, actually walk up to the subject, get close and click. Avoid using the camera’s digital zoom.
Try a new angle. Instead of shooting straight on, try looking down to the object, or crouching and looking up. Pick an angle that shows maximum color and minimum shadow. To make objects look longer or taller, a low angle can help. You may also want to make the object look smaller or make it look like you’re hovering over; to get the effect you should put the camera above the object. An uncommon angle makes for a more interesting shot.
Be a picture director: Take control of your picture-taking. A picture director picks the location, adds props or removes unnecessary or distracting items, such as water bottles, back packs, etc.
But how do I do this without Photoshop? Easy!
Check out this website: www.picmonkey.com. Easy-to-use, basic functions like cropping and color adjustments and lots of fun filters and best of all, it’s FREE.
There are also lots of free and low-priced editing apps for iPhones and iPads—a quick Internet search will yield many different styles and types.
Some content courtesy of Capital Region BOCES School Communications Portfolio. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. For more information or permission to use, call 518-464-3960.