Ten tips to help you take better photos

21st June 2021

This week we are talking to Damian Bailey, an award-winning wedding and family photographer, on how you can take better photos and make the best of your family holiday memories.

“I have been a professional photographer since 2003 and photographing kids and families it is my single favourite thing to do with my camera.

Between July 11th and 31st I shall be in North Cornwall for The Beach Sessions; family photography shoots, morning or evening, at the location of your choice. Relaxed, fun and natural and all done in an hour because you don’t want it to take over your day.

On holiday with friends? No problem – multi-family shoots are really popular.

On holiday with pets and well-behaved grandparents? Bring them too!

The tips below will help you take better photos of your kids and family this Summer. Or, why not take the stress out of it and let me capture your happy holiday memories, now that you are all finally together on holiday after a hell of a year?

Full details of The Beach Sessions can be found here: damianbailey.com

Ten Tips to help you take better photos

Don’t zoom in – GET CLOSER!

Zooming in on a phone will reduce the quality of the photo. Instead, actually move towards or further away from the subject until you can see what you want to see in the photo. If you can’t do this then you’ll have to use the zoom but try and avoid it if you can.

What are you photographing?

Think really carefully about what is in the photograph. This is called composition or framing the photo. Sounds simple but it’s fundamental to taking good photos.

Law of Thirds

This is a good rule of thumb when taking photos. Depending on your phone/camera, you may be able to turn on a grid created by two equally spaced vertical lines and two equally spaced horizontal lines.

When taking a photo try to place the subject on one of the points where the lines intersect. This will help your composition and make the photos more engaging. It’s not a hard and fast rule but it’s worth thinking about.

Don’t say “Smile!”

Asking people to smile doesn’t work. It just ends up with an awkward half-smile that looks weird. If you want happy expressions in your photos you have to try to make people laugh. You can also ask someone off-camera to help you make them laugh.

Beware! There is no dignity in this! Do whatever it takes to make people laugh whilst taking their photo.

Don’t just stand there!

Don’t just stand there! Try different angles. Shoot from above or below your subject. Lie down, stand on something. Create silhouettes, create movement and variety in your photos, even when photographing the same subject. Shoot in landscape (horizontal) and portrait (vertical) too, to give you maximum choice.

See the light!

Light; it’s the natural resource of all photography and how you use it is the single most creative element at your disposal when taking photographs.

If you are outside, try putting the sun behind your human subject or in the shade. This is counter-intuitive to everything you’ve ever ‘learnt’ about photography, but it is the way of the professional and means that there won’t be any harsh shadow on the faces, no squinting and a lovely halo of light around their head and shoulders. You can also create amazing silhouettes! Of course, sometimes the location and required photos mean your subjects have to face the sun but try to keep it to a minimum of you can.

If it’s cloudy, anything goes!

When indoors, get your subject facing a source of natural light like a window or an open door. Avoid having a window behind your subject as this will often cause your camera to underexposure the photo.

Check out my little video on this subject.

Take LOTS of photos

Practice makes perfect and you’ll never regret taking photos. So take lots of them! I use an app called 1 Second Everyday which is a great way of getting into the habit of recording your surroundings on a daily basis. Also, when taking photos of your kids, for example, take lots at one time. Move around your subject as you are taking photos. Each will be subtly different as their expressions change etc. It’s all about playing around and practising.

Edit your photos

Go through them regularly, delete photos you don’t want to keep, edit the ones you do. Use apps like Snapseed, Blackie and even your phone’s built in editing function. Don’t overdo the filers, cropping and editing but your photos will benefit from some editing.

Do something with your photos

Get them framed and on the wall, upload them to a digital photo frame, make albums. Anything except leaving them on your phone where you’ll never see them.

Back them up

Imagine losing your phone and all your photos with it. Nightmare, right? So, make sure you back them all up. The easiest way to do this is to back your photos up to the cloud. Google Photos is a great option for this. Dropbox also works well. Detachable hard drives are also a good idea.