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Happy Snappy

15 May 2018

This May we have discovered that it is ‘Photo Month’! The first partial image was taken in 1816 over 200 years ago and photography has changed a lot since then, selfie anyone? Not only have photos helped us to celebrate family and friends, but over these 200 years they have helped to open our eyes to the world and document our magnificent, ever changing planet and the full spectrum of the human condition from the most beautiful to the most horrific. ‘Photo Month’ was created to help us celebrate the invention of this incredible means of communication with previous and future generations, so let’s not let this day go to waste and make some memories!

It goes without saying that most of us carry our phones, complete with tiny digital cameras, so to get the best from your device and possibly ignite a further passion for photography, here are some tips on taking better photos on your phone:

1. Get close. You can disarm an uneasy subject by getting into their personal space bubble. This can make them laugh, feel freer to show their silly and happiest side. You could even (with permission) try some personal contact such as hold their hand when you’re taking their photo, the human contact can put people at ease.

2. Shoot the moment, not the subject. Don’t spend too much time composing and arranging shots as this can lose the essence of what drew you to take the photo in the first place. Life is a series of moments, not images.

3. Move around a lot. Don’t take the same picture over and over again, with tiny variations. Try every angle and get creative, you never know what you’ll end up with.

4. Get down to the eye level of your subject. If you’re shooting babies or toddler or even chickens, get low. Get your knees dirty. The eye-to-eye vantage is powerful, while the looking-down view is often distancing. Your photos will feel more intimate.

5. Notice the details. Details tell stories. They trigger intimate memories. A photo of a half eaten piece of cake at a birthday party helps to capture that moment. Take time to look around for the details.

6. Play with props. Everyday things like chairs, ladders, empty boxes: all of these serve to trigger emotions, illustrate scale or frame people in fun ways.

7. Know the light in your house. As you wander around your house with a morning coffee or after dinner or in the middle of the day, notice when and where the light is most beautiful.

8. Get people away from bright, direct light. Often it’s as simple as taking a person around the side of a summer house, for example, where indirect light is much softer and more beautiful.

9. Shoot everywhere, always. Take photos at times and places where it feels strange to do so. There’s always something beautiful or interesting worth capturing.

10. Shoot lots. Digital “film” is virtually free, and you never really know when you’re getting a good shot: the little screen on the camera — even on the iPhone — can’t always tell in the moment. Expressions vary, heads tilt, eyes look away or into the camera: and then suddenly you have the perfect picture - a totally natural, candid shot.

If you find a love for photograpy and want to try your hand at traditional film printing, pop along to the Photo Parlour in Nottingham!

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