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ResultsKatalyst Newsletter - ResultsKatalyst September 2007

Traci RileyTips for Taking Great Photos—Point, Click & Shoot!

Tip of the Month: September 2007
By Traci Riley

Whether you’re on vacation, celebrating a special occasion or taking photographs for an event at your church, we’ve all had those pictures that don’t come out quite as we had imagined. And then along came digital technology that provided us the ability to see our pictured subject immediately after snapping the photo. Don’t like it…Delete it.

But do you find that you still have to take a shot over and over because it’s not quite right? Producing great pictures can be much less problematic if you have some very basic tips in mind when you are honing in on a subject.


Consider the light that will appear in your pictures. People tend to look much better in the softer lighting that appears on cloudy days. Your flash can quickly brighten up a face. Keep in mind that the overhead sunlight of a bright day can cast shadows on faces. If you are out on one of those extremely sunny days, don’t forget to use your flash. It can darken the bright sunlight shadows.

However, if you are aiming for more scenic pictures, use natural light. The shadows and colors of both early and late day will provide a beautiful way to accent?

sail boat at Hilton Head

Lighting indoors will, of course, be based on the amount of lighting you have. Be careful standing near a window or large amounts of glass. This can create a glare and sometimes shadows appear. On the other hand, if you are in a darker room, the flash is definitely something you don’t want to forget.

NOTE:  Your flash has a range. Most seem to be about just 10 feet. If your subject is at a distance of more than 10 feet the flash won’t help. Rely on natural light for subjects that remain in the distance.

Focus, focus, focus.

This sounds like the most basic of tips, but many people don’t do it. Digital cameras have the ability to lock in the focus of a subject. First center your subject. Most cameras lock in on the center so if your subject is off to the side, bring it to the center to focus first. Once your subject is centered, press the shutter button half way so you have it exactly as you want it focused. Finish the shot by pressing the shutter button all the way.

But, if you want your subject off-center, bring your subject to the center of your view and focus it. Then slightly move your camera so your subject is off-center. Complete the shot by pressing the shutter button completely down. Which brings me to the next tip.

Placing your subject.

There are many things to be said about this category.


In other words, move in close! Get down on the level of your subject and fill the picture with it. All that extra space may be irrelevant to the photograph and ends up wasted. Close photographs give the feeling of being very personal and inviting to the viewer.


We all know that a cluttered background can be distracting so be as simple as you can. You want to highlight your subject, not all the “stuff” around it. But framing the subject is also another option. For example, you could step back a bit into some trees and use the leaves to frame the subject of your photograph.

girl on couch with too much distracting background
Lot's of distracting background
close up of girl which keeps the focus on the subject
Up close keeps the subject as the center of attention

Go off-center.

Move the subject of your photograph from the middle to an outer area. Kodak.com recommends thinking of your camera frame as a tic-tac-toe grid. Place your subject on one of the intersecting lines and use the depth to bring a picture to life. This is also called the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is also particularly important if your subject is moving. You need to leave space for the subject to travel into or you’ll miss them as they zip away from you.    I tend to have a few VBS photos each year that my kids zip out of and I’ve missed the great picture because I didn’t leave enough room for them to travel into.

missed the shot
Leave space for your subject to travel
got the shot
Timing is important, especially when using a digital camera

Be creative. Be different.

happy kids Creativity abounds here. Bring out the personalities of your subjects. Add some props. Try vertical pictures or unusual angles, like kneeling or lying down. 

Don’t forget your tripod.

They can be compact and portable rather than bulky. And they work great when you are in low-light conditions or trying to photograph moving objects. Many sanctuaries tend to have low lighting using a tripod is a great choice.

Above all else, know your camera. If you’re anything like me you open the instruction manual just to figure out how to do a few basic things and then you never open it again. Well, ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ Really know your camera. It can make a difference between good photographs and ones you’ll have to take again and again.

For more tips on taking good photographs, you can check out some photograph experts like www.kodak.com, www.fotofinish.com, www.lexar.com or www.easyphotograph.info.

As always, if we can help you in making your website more successful, please contact us at Katalyst Solutions, LLC.

Traci Riley has worked in marketing in the technology industry for 8 years. She spends her days with Katalyst Solutions researching and writing to be a ‘katalyst for your online success.’


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