They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but if you’re less than familiar with the myriad settings of your camera, sometimes those words are “blurry”, “you cut off my feet” and “why does my face look like that?”
A few simple tips and hints can transform the way you take photos. Our staff take photos for guests every day, so we were keen to offer them some training. We brought in professional photographer Matt Brodie to take some of our staff through the ins and outs of photography, from smartphones to state-of-the-art DSLR cameras.
After a bit of theory in the morning, the group was split into teams and sent into the forest, armed with a camera, and tasked to put what they’d learned into practice. Maxine is a water sports instructor at Sherwood Forest, and said:
“Working at the lake, we take photos of guests 15 or 20 times a day. Now I can take a photo that looks a bit better than the usual standard. I’ve learnt some great tips today, from basics like turning a phone landscape or even just holding a big DSLR properly so I don’t feel like I’m going to drop it off the edge of the jetty!”
I asked Matt if it really is something that anyone can pick up. He said: “There’s an art to photography, no doubt. But in large part, it’s a skill set like anything else, so it can be learned. If you’ve got the right teacher, absolutely, anyone can be taught to take a decent photo.”
By the end of the day, our staff were snapping away with confidence, having been taught how to compose, frame, focus and expose a good photo.
If you want to upgrade your holiday snaps next time you join us for a family break, follow Matt’s tips…
Matt’s top ten tips for improving your family photos
- Get flashy
Using a smartphone or a digital camera? Try using flash – a little bit of light will fill in the shadows in faces and help them ‘pop’. The flash automatically stops when there’s enough light so your shots won’t end up over-exposed.
- Never work with children and animals…
…from your height! When photographing your children or pets, always get down to their level. It gives prominence to the subject.
- Focus, focus, focus
When using a smartphone, you might notice the focus change right when you’ve set up the perfect shot. Tapping the screen sets the focus, but holding your finger down actually locks it, so you can adjust or reposition the shot without losing the perfect focus.
- Consider the environment
Unless you’re intent on taking a close-up, don’t go super tight with your framing. Show some of the environment around your subject. You can always crop into a photo later but you can’t crop out!
- Give yourself options
Unless you’re shooting something obviously tall and thin, then landscape is generally the best orientation because it imitates our field of view (our eyes are next to each other, not on top of each other). But if in doubt, take one landscape and one portrait option – you can always delete one later.
- Try autopilot
If you’re handed a DSLR camera to take a photo with – or you’ve bought one yourself and are still getting the hang of it – then the ‘auto’ setting is your friend. Look for the little green ‘A’. It takes care of exposure, focus and aperture, leaving you to only worry about framing and zooming.
- Back it up
Our photos go on a memory card which lives in a drawer. We end up losing, forgetting or overwriting the card and the photos are lost forever. Put them on a computer or hard drive as soon as you can.
- Touch it up
Most computers have some basic photo editing software (such as iPhoto or Windows Photo Viewer) which can help you lighten, brighten, crop and resize images without the need for anything as advanced as Photoshop.
- Hard copies
We take more photos than ever but we never look at them anymore. When you get back from your holiday, go old school and actually print a few out to put up around your house, or make a photo book online to remind you of your time together forever.
- Just shoot
Don’t get hung up on technology and technique – there’s a reason we love photos. They can take us back to a wonderful moment and that should be treasured. Even if technically a photo may be poorly composed or executed, if it makes you happy when you look at it, it’s a great photo.
Want to learn more about photography? Check out Matt’s Youtube channel for more advanced tutorials.
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