By Larry McIntyre
Photo: Courtesy of David Suttont
No matter the occasion, photos of friends and family can be treasures you will cherish for years. But you don’t have to be a professional to take great photos. Your handy-dandy point-and-shoot is quite capable of capturing a masterpiece. Even disposable cameras can do a good job. Here are some tips to help you in your pursuit of wonderful family photos. Bring the camera Sometimes, we’re so busy planning the event that we forget the basics, like bringing the camera. If you’re hoping to take pictures, you’re definitely going to need a camera. Oh yeah, bring some film, too. Speed matters It can be confusing to know which film speed is right for which photo. Outdoors on a sunny day, use 100 speed. It gives you the clearest pictures with the best resolution. Indoors and outdoors with decent lighting, use 200 speed. Although you’ll probably want to use a flash to get the best results, 200 is your most versatile film for both indoors and outdoors. Indoors with low light, use 400 speed, but you’ll definitely need a flash. Flash points If you’re indoors, use a flash. If it’s a cloudy day, use a flash. When in doubt, use a flash. Also, always make sure existing light sources are behind you, the photographer, so the subject is well lit. Go digital Film cameras soon will be a novelty for the traditionalists. Digital cameras have improved in quality, convenience and price. A note of caution: Your digital photos will come out better if you are close and have good light. Beautiful people only We’ve piqued your interest, right? The truth is we live in a vain society and most people are not comfortable with the way they look. Too many wrinkles, too big a belly, not the right outfit, bad hair day, the list goes on. But the people you want are the ones who are beautiful to you. So, to get them to be part of a picture they will like, the best thing you can do is make them feel comfortable. If people are more relaxed, they are more likely to take a better picture. Strive for OK If you try too hard, you are almost guranteed failure. If you have something absolutely specific in mind, good for you, but chances are you won’t achieve it. Good photos can only be captured in a good atmosphere. If the photographer is tense with details, then the people in the photo may become tense, greatly reducing the possibility of a good photo. Be more concerned with capturing the moment naturally than dictating to people how they should be. Difficult subjects Don’t be a bossy photographer. Ask people to participate in the photo. If they are reluctant, let them know it’s important for them to be part of this memory. However, if a person really doesn’t want their photo taken, then please don’t take it. Your future memory of this person will be accurate when you remember why that person is not in the photo. Naming rights Name your camera. Sue, Harry, Lakeisha or George, whatever you come up with will be fine. But, of course, you won’t be able to name your camera until you get to know your camera. Don’t think you’re going to take a perfect photo as soon as you remove the camera from the box. Experiment, play, practice and take lots and lots of pictures. Practice does make perfect. Have fun Bring the camera, bring film, use a flash, keep the light behind you, go digital, let people feel comfortable, focus on being ready to capture the moment rather than trying to create the moment, know your camera, practice and finally, have fun. If you are having fun as the photographer, it will show in your pictures and your memories.Larry McIntyre is a photographer and dad who lives in Oak Park.