DIY Digital Photography: Take Photos like a Pro and Save Over $200!
Save yourself $200 or more by taking your own professional quality family portraits at home! Follow these easy insider tips to make high quality digital photos of your family and friends.
Digital Photography Tip 1: Buying a digital camera
You will need a digital camera. If you have the cash, opt for a high end Canon or Nikon. For a more consumer-friendly price, I bought the Canon Powershot A480. If you are strapped for cash, then try to buy a digital camera that has both auto and manual functions, manual zoom and focus, and the ability to take pictures at full resolution at least 5×7. The Canon Powershot can take up to full resolution 8x10s, which is a standard size for professional photos.
Digital Photography Tip 2: Setting up a studio
For a digital studio, all you really need is good lighting and a blank wall. If you cannot afford top of the line lights, use what you have – a sunlit window, desk lamps, halogen lamps, etc. You want to avoid fluorescent lights, which leave everyone looking a bit green. Be creative with your light setup and experiment with different lighting angles.
Digital Photography Tip 3: Scenery
Professional studios often charge you a large fee for changing the scenery or backdrop. Create your own inexpensive backdrops by purchasing different colored sheets and (believe it or not) shower curtains. Tack them or nail them to a blank wall. For infants you may have to get a bit more creative. My baby daughter’s photo sessions all take place on a stiff futon draped over with sheets and various fabrics. Remember that photography is all about illusion. For example, set up your subjects in front of a beach scene in bright summer clothes. Use tasteful props like a fun hat or beach toys. Be careful when framing your shot. You do not want to give away that your backdrop is really a $5 shower curtain you bought at Lowe’s.
Digital Photography Tip 4: Props
Adding props can be fun, but don’t go overboard. Add no more than one or two props to each photo. For example, a photo of your daughter sitting on a rocking chair in front of a pastel background might be enhanced by the addition of her favorite doll, or a portrait of your grandfather might be more characteristic if he is wearing his fishing gear. Try not to “force” a look and instead go for portraits which showcase the subject’s overall character.
Digital Photography Tip 5: Effects and Colors
There are many interesting settings on today’s digital cameras. Opt for simple ones like black and white or sepia and leave all of the other effects alone. You may want to adjust brightness and contrast, but many computer programs allow you to do this in the software without affecting the digital photo. The best bet? Just take the photos raw (no effects) and then adjust in the computer. Also, you may want to experiment with the overall color palette of your photo. For example, if the background scenery is of a impressionistic forest, you may not want to clash with bright neon prints. Instead, have several costumes and clothing options available and see what appeals to the eye best.
Digital Photography Tip 6: Going from Amateur to Pro
I suggest picking up several books on both traditional and digital photography or taking a class or two. Continue to hone your craft, learning about focusing, framing, composition, etc.