I tend to cry over the little things. Like about saying good bye to friends or about the fact that time has passed. Last month my daughter and I spent a few weeks in Germany. On our very last night we both were overcome by a sudden sadness. Our hearts felt so heavy because we had to say good bye to our German life for at least another year. As much as we love our life in California, it’s never easy to leave Germany, our second home. The gloomy clouds looming over the highway on the way to the airport made it even harder to be upbeat and excited about our coming departure.
Out of nowhere, the sun sprang out of the clouds. It was an instant mood lifter. Mix that up with a freshly harvested field and some hay bales and you understand how I felt: Inspired! We immediately had to leave the highway, jump out of our little rental car and start a little impromptu photoshoot.
When I first started learning all about photography, I believed that you need the best of the best equipment to take great pictures. This photoshoot, though, is a good example of how even the smallest travel sized camera and the right moment can create lasting memories and meaningful pictures. The best camera is the one you have with you.
Here are my top photography tips:
Keep it simple
My pictures often come from an inner desire to capture the moment. So there is no time to plan ahead, scout a location or chose props or outfits. Instead I work with what is at hand. When working with nature, leaves, grasses, or even branches can be used for framing and can add interesting details to your photo. When shooting in cities I often look for colors that bring out the best in my subject, like murals or door frames. Once you start looking for these design elements, the possibilities are endless.
Watch the light
I love it when the sun is part of my story. Often, I will shoot during golden hour and many of my pictures are backlit. Shooting against the sun can be challenging because you need to adjust your exposure. This can be done by purposely overexposing a picture. Try partially blocking out the sun by your subject or some trees to avoid completely overexposed pictures. In general, darker pictures convey a more moody atmosphere, while brighter photos will make the colors pop and look more pleasing to the eye.
Interact with your subject
Talking is key. When I’m taking pictures of my daughter our session is all about our time together. I hardly ever give her any directions. Instead we laugh and move a lot. My camera is set to capture a moving subject (set the AF mode to continuous focus).
Straighten your horizon
This is a really easy to follow step but will have a huge impact on your pictures. A straight horizon will make your picture look a lot stronger and is easy to achieve. Either in camera while you shoot, or later while editing your pictures. No matter which editing program you use, use the crop or angle tool to get the desired result.
Enjoy the moment!
Over the years I learned the more I let go of expectations, the better my pictures became. Believe in your abilities and try to think in advance of what you want to achieve. Once you’ve set your mind, allow yourself to be in the moment.
And most of all – have fun! What are your go-to photography tricks?