If you take nothing else from this series, take this: You can take great pictures of your children. You can tell beautiful stories and capture precious memories.
As a new mom, I remember feeling frustrated with my pictures. I was frustrated with not knowing how to produce anything but blurry, underexposed, and grainy pictures that did not do justice to the beautiful images that lived in my head.
When I began my journey into taking better pictures, I started with camera settings. I started by un-teaching myself that my camera’s default settings could produce the pictures that I wanted. I changed my settings and my pictures changed.
To take better pictures, and whether you have a point-and-shoot or DSLR, here are the camera settings that you’ll need to know or that you’ll need to adjust for better pictures.
Continuous Shooting Mode (sometimes called Burst or Multiple Frames). Children and babies are fast, very fast, and unpredictable. And this is why you’ll need a camera that can capture multiple images in a few seconds.
Anything else, or the standard mode, is just too slow. I keep my cameras in this mode because I am always taking pictures of my kids.
Turn off the flash. Always. Always. Always. That built-in camera on your flash will only leave you with harsh shadows, shiny skin, and weird skin colors. With children (or with anything else for that matter), you should always seek out natural light. Because natural light is golden, you’ll want to take pictures in places that have great light (more on this in next week’s post). If you don’t have enough light, and you can’t reasonably lower your shutter speed, you can raise your ISO, while keeping in mind that the higher the ISO, the grainier the image and the more potential for user error.
Use portrait mode (Point-and-Shoot). If you have a point-and-shoot, using portrait mode will give you some of the blurred background that you can get a lot of with a DSLR with a great lens.
Use aperture priority mode (DSLR). In this mode, the focus is on the f-stop (aperture). While choosing the f-stop, your camera selects the shutter speed for correct exposure.
Sometimes, the shutter speed for the f-stop is too slow, so in those cases, I copy the aperture from Aperture priority mode and go to Manual to adjust the shutter speed for my pictures.
Center Focus. In using this setting, your camera will automatically focus on whatever is in the center of the frame. To focus on something that isn’t in the center, just compose your photo, re-frame so the focal point is centered, and re-frame (we’ll talk about this more later in the series).
That’s it! Of course, there are more settings that you can adjust, but when you’re starting out it’s these settings that will make the biggest difference in your pictures!
If you have any questions about anything I’ve said here, please feel free to ask me in a comment on this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What was your “a-ha!” camera setting, or the camera setting that you were able, in adjusting it/figuring it out, to see a huge difference in your pictures?
I hope you’re enjoying this as much as I am! Next week we’ll be talking about how to find great natural light for your photos.