I suffer from photo envy–along with a cluster of other photographic maladies. As I scroll through my friends’ clever shots and seemingly carefree set-ups, the fever of envy burns. Just look at this shot by my friend and colleague, Paul Swanson:
I can’t blame the smartphone camera; it’s the same as everybody else’s. Compared to my friends’ crisp, clear shots, mine are a fuzzy, muddled mess. If I had a dollar for every photo opportunity I’ve screwed up over the years, I’d have enough money for a hot DSLR camera with all the trimmings. Bet that would fix my picture taking woes. (I’m kidding, don’t worry!) Some of my photo-fails hurt worse than others.
Like the time I took my daughter Kiki to a book launch hosted by her favourite author, Isobelle Carmody. Afterwards, at the book signing table, Isobelle grinned at Kiki and said, “Cute hair!” Both of them sport the same ultra funky micro-fringes (bangs). “It’ll make a great photo,” I said, waving my iPhone. I lined them up and snapped away quickly, mindful of the queue of people behind us.
Isobelle said to make sure we shared the photo on her Facebook page. My daughter was stoked.
I think we all know where this story is headed… On our way back to the car, Kiki checked out the photo. Instead of a happy-snap of a famous author and fan with matching fringes, we had three abstract art pieces. Blurs, swirls, swooshes…or something.
Three bad photos! Who does that?
I handed her my phone. “Quick! Run back and do a selfie of the two of you.” Off she dashed.
“I’ll stay far away for luck…” I mumbled to myself.
Isobelle had left, sadly. Yet another photo-op screwed up by Mum.
Reliable photography skills not only help with familial harmony, they are essential for freelance writing and blogging. I realised earlier this year that I must do something to mend my bumbling photographic ways–quick-smart.
I set myself a challenge for the second half of 2014: Figure out what the heck I’m doing wrong and learn how to improve my pictures. I started by creating a Pinterest board called Pretty Pictures, where I pin links to helpful articles and inspiring photos.
Analysis of My Photo-Fails
I blame my eyes–and age (which is novel, because my hormones get the blame for EVERYTHING else.) A big part of the problem is the fact that I can’t see a damn thing that’s closer than my arm length + 11¾ inches. Reading glasses help, of course. But retrieving them from the black hole that is my handbag will mean my subjects have to wait around, yawning, tapping their foot, and glaring at my back.
At least that’s how it feels to me.
Which leads to another part of my problem. I rush. I bluster. I freak a tiny bit. (I can feel your eyes rolling–I know–It’s stupid! Just settle, Ali!) I know I should chill, but I don’t want to inconvenience people. I worry about being annoying which is, well…annoying. All of this causes my hands to tremble.
You get the picture…
Photographic First Aid
I was making fun of my photo-catastrophic prowess to a long-suffering colleague, and he kindly shared some photography pointers. This is one of the guys who regularly extricates me from technological pickles of my making. I’m going to list Sensei Paul Swanson’s tips here in the unlikely event that anyone out there shares my issues. I highly doubt it, but, hey–it’s a big planet.
5 Tips for Better Blog Pictures
- Hold the phone horizontally rather than vertically. This step minimises some of the wobble-factor.
- Use two hands. (Hang on–Are there people who can do it with one?? Sheesh. As it is, taking pictures requires the coordination and agility of Houdini.)
- For added stability, use your elbows to brace your arms. Rest them against your tummy or hips as you frame your shot.
- Use the phone’s physical button (usually the volume control), rather than the awkwardly placed button on the touch screen.
- When your shot is framed and your subjects are ready, exhale. Then click. That’s a marksman’s trick for stilling your whole body right down to your trigger finger.
Hmmm. It sounds like Paul knows who he’s dealing with–an über-goober who forgets to breathe! He also advised studying up on the Rule of Thirds to improve photo composition, but that’s a subject for another time. Maybe a guest post. (Sensei Paul, I’m winking your way…)
At the top of this article, I mentioned I was battling a bout of photo-envy. Paul’s shots are the main source of said envy. The picture at the top shows his amazing composition skills. He’s not a bad photography Sensei, either!