Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How to take better pictures of your family

I originally posted this article on Photocrati but I think it's worth re-printing here..

I think that most people believe that the key to taking good pictures is mostly technical. First you need a good camera and then you need to learn all the advanced trigonometry and physics necessary to use said camera. ("So, a higher ISO means more light but a higher shutter speed means less light? What?) All that stuff is necessary, sure, but let's not overlook the thing that's really important: Memories.

Always ask, "Why?" Every time you reach for your camera, ask yourself, "Why am I taking a picture? Why did I reach for my camera?" Most of the time it's one of two things: Either you want to preserve a memory, or you saw something that sparked a memory in you and you want to record it. If you approach the picture with that in mind, you will take better, more meaningful pictures of your family.

My kids were putting out Halloween decorations last year and I grabbed my camera to record the memory. Don't stand your kids up and take a snapshot. You have thousands of snapshots of your kids and they all look the same. Instead, ask "Why?" In this case, the reason I was taking pictures was because my children were putting out decorations. The decorations were the memory... the process. So, I focused on the decorations, not the children. My technical knowledge allows me to take the picture from the proper angle with the proper light, etc, but it's my desire to preserve the memory of my children decorating the house that leads me to create an image that is unique and so much better than a snapshot. More after the jump...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lighting nightmares at Disney's Hollywood Studios

We took the kids to Disney's Hollywood Studios for the first time last weekend. Disney is running a Florida residents special that is too good to pass up (4 parks, 4 days, $99). They've really changed Hollywood Studios a lot since the last time I was there (probably 10 years ago) and it's got a lot more to do now and much more for the kids. Since Disney bought Pixar, they have really started to exploit the characters at the park. The parade is all Pixar characters and the line to meet the characters from "Up" was longer that the line to meet Mickey Mouse!

One thing that hasn't changed is Disney's total lack of caring when it comes to color temperature. I'm joking... I don't expect them to care about the lone professional photographer who wants to take really good pictures of his kids meeting Buzz Lightyear. Still, It can be a little frustrating when you enter a room with three different types of light and black walls behind me. Help a brother out! Just give me a little bit of neutral wall I can bounce my flash off of!

When we met Woody and Buzz there were actually 4 types of light: studio floods, tungsten, tungsten with gels and sunlight. Impossible to color balance and you can forget trying to gel your flash to match. I found myself frequently having to shoot straight on with my flash (which I hate).

More after the jump...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Photography class begins in Tampa

I held my first photography class today. I wasn't really nervous about it, because I practiced quite a bit and I don't have any problems speaking in front of groups. Any nervousness that I feel about teaching class stems from my fear that I will teach too little or too much. For me, the worst thing in the world that could happen would be for someone to leave my class thinking, "Gee, I don't really feel like I got my money's worth." The second worst thing that could happen is for someone to leave my class thinking, "Gee, this is way too difficult for me to ever be able to understand." This second concern is going to be on my mind a lot as we move into the second class in the series.

For the first class I concentrated exclusively on composition. We never even talked about the camera, its operation or any of the settings. Instead, I spent the entire class just teaching composition. If you're going to learn to be a good photographer you have to first start with the basics and that means understanding the elements of a picture, what brings it together, how the elements work with each other etc.. The biggest mistakes I see when I look at amateur pictures are always composition related. It was nice to see some "ah ha" moments as I explained ways in which you could make your pictures stand out and be so much more than they have in the past.

Next week we get into the tricky part. Next week we tackle the camera and the basics of photography. It's always a little confusing the first time that you try to learn the basics of photography because there are three things that control how light enters a camera, each of these things is designated by a number, and none of them use the same numbers in quite the same way. ISO numbers will let in more light if the number is higher, shutter speed numbers let in less light if the number is higher, and aperture numbers, well, there just weird to begin with.
Next week is the test. If I can finish next week's class with all of my students understanding the "exposure triangle" Then I'll really be proud of myself. I've been trying to teach it to my wife for years and still haven't managed to pull it off. But then, she really doesn't want to learn it. She just puts up with me because she loves me.

Tampa Bay Wedding Photography by Booray Perry

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Booray's Better Pictures Class

As promised I will be offering a new series of classes this month. I've narrowed it down to four classes in all: Composition, Exposure/Shutter Speed, Aperture, Camera controls and tricks of the trade. My plan is to teach the basics needed to have a good understanding of photography with special emphasis on candid shots... the kind of pictures that most people take of their family and friends.

I already have plenty of sign-ups for the class and I'm hoping that after we're done I'll have created some new photography wizards!

Class starts on Jan. 17th so contact me right away if you want in!