Tips for taking great photographs

Or how to make your design company love you.

In the production of in-house newsletters and other company publications, we often get supplied photographs taken by staff members rather than commissioned photographers. The biggest mistake made is pictures not being of high enough quality suitable for printing, so we’ve produced this handy guide  for you to read, distribute or download as you wish. Free gratis.

Go ‘Hi-res’

  • Use the highest quality setting available on your camera, measured in ‘Megapixels’. This might be called ‘Super-fine’ or similar. If you are unsure, simply choose the highest ‘megapixel’ number available. Most cameras today have 5 megapixels or more. The higher the number, the better quality the images will be. Whilst lower settings look okay on computer screens, they often aren’t good enough for printing in magazines, etc.

Turn yourself into a human tripod

  • To get a good shot you need a steady hand. If you don’t have a camera tripod, stand with your legs slightly apart, and your elbows in to your body
  • Hold the camera with both hands and squeeze the shutter button slowly, rather than pushing it down quickly. This will prevent blurring caused by ‘camera shake’ appearing on your images. You can also lean against a nearby wall or similar for extra steadying.

Step outside

  • Where possible, take portraits outdoors. Natural light in the early morning or late afternoon is best
  • Don’t be afraid of cloudy days; harsh midday light will cause your subjects to squint into the sun. And if the background is too bright, you can use your camera’s built-in flash to fill in shadows and darkness, but only use it to enhance your portrait. This is because sometimes the camera will adjust for the bright light and faces will end up too dark
  • Using flash on its own, particularly indoors, can cause unflattering ‘shine’ on their faces.

Watch the background

  • While you’re focusing on your subject, don’t forget to make sure there isn’t a pole, drainpipe or other object in the background sticking out of their head!
  • Get level with your subject for a more pleasing result
  • Watch out for distracting backgrounds, and where possible, make it relevant to them
  • Some cameras have a portrait mode, which will isolate them from the background.

Group shots

  • Make sure everyone you want in the shot knows you want them a few minutes ahead of time
  • Make sure your camera is on and has charged batteries
  • Location – Showing a featured sports team on a playing field says more than if they’re in front of a brick wall! Again, watch out for background distractions
  • Take multiple shots – Someone is bound to blink or look away!
  • Get in Close – If your group is a smaller one get right in close to them and take some head and shoulder shots. Try  staggering them by putting some people in front and behind
  • Pose the group – Make the important people the central focal point by putting them right in the middle of the group. Tell everyone to raise their chins a little – they’ll thank you later when they see the shot without any double chins!
  • Say “If you can see the camera it can see you”. This one is key if you want to be able to see each person’s face in the shot
  • Change your view – If it’s a large group, elevate yourself (if it’s safe to do so) to take a shot looking down on the group. In doing this you can fit a lot more people in and still remain quite close to the group.

Tips to Remember:

  • Set your camera to the highest quality (highest megapixel) setting
  • Take multiple pictures
  • Try different angles for interest
  • If your battery is low, you can switch off the LCD screen and just use the viewfinder if available
  • Make sure you have enough storage space in your camera’s memory.