I was honored to see that a coworker scheduled a meeting wherein I would teach her “how to take a decent picture.” She wants to contribute more to our online magazine, as she spends more time than most of us in the field, so she wanted the editor (me) to show her how to make better images.
I talk the talk better than I walk the walk, so the images below are for illustration purposes only.
Here are the fundamentals we worked on today.
- Each photo on our site should complement the story and tell a story of its own. One of the reasons photojournalists often work with wide-angle lenses is because they can get very close to the subject while still showing context.
- A photo is more compelling if it shows the viewer something he or she would not necessarily have seen. This is why I am fond of high and low angles. I’ve often said my knees are my chief photographic tools, because I’m always dropping to the ground for a more dramatic angle. For our purposes, I’d rather have an interesting image than a perfectly exposed, perfectly focused, perfectly balanced one.
- I shared Bob Krist‘s idea that a successful photo has great light, great composition, and a sense of moment.
So, my basic advice was to start out by using a wide-angle setting on her camera, get low and close, look for interesting light, use fill flash outdoors and window light indoors, seek simple backgrounds, and if you’re getting low and close with a wide angle lens to photograph a person, make sure they lean toward you a bit.
What a wonderful exercise this turned out to be for me! I had to really think about “how to take a decent picture,” and articulate the fundamentals to someone who is not a photographic hobbyist. Best of all, the things I determined were most important to a decent photo for our magazine apply equally to her pocket camera and my DSLR – the picture is made behind the viewfinder, not in the camera.