Mamarazzi Skills: Tips for Great Photos

Welcome to the Mamarazzi Skills Series! I've got 5 great tips I'm going to share over the next 5 weeks about how to step up your photography game and get great shots of your kids and family. I got my first "fancy" camera two years ago and I've picked up some tricks along the way which have helped my photography immensly. I firmly believe that any camera can take a good photo; we just need to give it the tools to succeed. This series will cover some non-technical, non-equipment related things you can do TODAY to help improve your photography. Please leave any questions you have in the comments section or on my Facebook page. And, share your photos! I'd love to see your work! 

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Seek the light!  Photography is all about light, right? This week, I challenge you to turn off your flash and find some good light. Natural light photographers often look for "open shade" or "golden light" when taking portraits of your family and kids. You can do the same! Open shade is just that, a shady spot in an open outdoor area. If you are outside in the middle of the day, look for places where the sun is being naturally shaded. Under the branches of a large tree, on the side of a building, under an overhang on a sidewalk. The light should still be nice and bright, but if your subject is squinting keep looking! 

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Full sun above. Subject is squinting and photo looks too bright. 

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Top image is good, natural light and open shade. This image was taken in "open shade" created by the car in the driveway.  Bottom image is taken just a few feet forwards in full sun. Subject is squinting and the image is too bright. 

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Great directional light above. Subject is positioned about 1 foot inside our garage! This is a prime example of "open shade". 

Golden light is that soft warm light that eminates just after sunrise and just before sunset. We talk about the "golden hour" in photography a lot. It's that 1-2 hour time slot just after sunrise or before sunset, when the sun is rising from or sinking towards the horizon. The warm and soft  quality of light during that time is a photographers dream because it flatters skintones and makes people look pretty! 

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If you try shooting during the "golden hour" position your subject in front of the sun, and shoot directly into the light source. We call this backlighting, and it can produce some gorgeous colors and beautiful haze. 

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Seriously, if you implement one tip from this series it should be to turn off your flash and find some natural light. The flash on your camera produces unnatural and unflattering light. Start paying attention to that big ball of light in the sky! 

All the photos in this post are straight out of the camera (with the exception of some cropping...our dog Barley can be pesky during picture time!) and unedited. No exposure or white balance adjustments have been made. The colors in these pictures are the result of positioning my subject and myself in good light!