My #1 Tip to Improve your Photos

Registration is now open for the April session of Your Camera & Your Life.  This will be the LAST session for awhile (and the last session in Virginia) because we are moving this summer. (Don't ask me where because I don't know!)  Sign up here and enter code "EarlyBird" before February 29 to receive $20 off!

Last week, I spoke at a local mom's club and shared my top tips for taking better photos of their kiddos.  

The number one tip I shared with them is revolutionary in its simplicity, but I guarantee incorporating this tip will make a huge improvement in your photos, no matter what camera you use.  

The tip is "include and exclude."

Any time you pick up your camera to take a photo, ask yourself the question, "Why am I taking this photo?"  Then, INCLUDE the elements that answer your question and EXCLUDE the elements that distract from that answer.

Let me share an example.  A few weeks ago at dinner, Dennis was reading a book to my kiddos.  It was a sweet moment and I grabbed my camera to capture it.

I asked myself "Why am I taking this photo?"  

The answer: to capture this moment with Dennis funnily reading a story to my three kids.

In this first photo here, I did a terrible job answering the question.  There's way too much going on, and we are unable to focus on the story.  It's just a mess.

In the next photo, I got MUCH closer and I filled my frame with just the elements that really matter, my people and the book they were reading together.  This photo isn't perfect, but it does a MUCH better job answering my question, "Why am I taking this photo?"

I could have gone even closer, but if I went too close, I wouldn't have INCLUDED enough to tell the story.

When you pick up your camera, before you shoot, really think about what you are taking a photo.  What about the scene in front of you should be included and what should be excluded?  

Scan your viewfinder (or the screen on your phone) and ask, am I including all I need to include?  Are there elements of this frame that distract from my subject?

Distracting elements can be a big problem in our photos.  When we look at a photo, our eyes move around. Distracting elements can draw our attention away from the subject.

Look at the photo below to see what I mean.

The trashcan in the middle of this beautiful field is distracting.

IF, there were a trash can in the middle of this beautiful field, Monet would have just left the trash can out of his painting. 

Unfortunately, our cameras don't work like paintbrushes.  EVERYTHING we see through the viewfinder will show up in our photos.  That means we need to be purposeful when we shoot!

We need to work really hard to keep distracting elements out of the frame.

Look at the photo below.  See how the truck in the background pulls our eyes away from my two sweet girls?  If I had noticed that truck before I took the photo, I could have turned my body just a little bit to the left or moved in closer to keep it out.  (I was able to crop this one and get rid of the truck!)

In this photo with Sam, the watch and lamp on the side table distracts us from this sweet little reader.  

By simply moving my body to the left a bit, I was able to remove the distractions.  Now, our attention is on Sam.  

Sometimes we can use a shallow depth of field to keep distractions out of the photo.  Here, the focus stayed on Madelyn.  I used a shallow depth of field and was able to keep the background out of focus.  (If you want to know more about creating a blurry background, sign up for my workshop!)

Give this tip a try.  When you pick up your camera, start by asking yourself, "Why am I taking this photo?"

Then, include and exclude to get the photos you want.  

This tip and so much more will be covered in my Your Camera & Your Life workshop