Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Guest Blog: Photo Tips

Photo Tips

By Craig Dirkes, Salvation Army Photographer

The Salvation Army and Bremer Bank are both large organizations with oodles of small-town branches, a model that sometimes forces rural employees to wear more than one hat.

One of those hats often bears the name Photographer. Example: The local newspaper wants a photo of your company picnic and suddenly, Penny the bank teller has to be Penny the paparazzo.

Things like that happen all the time at The Salvation Army’s 20 operation centers in Minnesota and North Dakota. As The Salvation Army’s official photo guy, our outstate employees often rely on me for photo advice. Bless their hearts, but I sometimes feel like I’m an air traffic controller guiding a terrified 12-year-old trying to land a jumbo jet. Thankfully, the airplane passengers survive with only bumps and bruises thanks to these basic tips:

• Get in close. People usually shoot too far away from their subject. In the example photo below, most folks would have shot this five or 10 feet away while standing straight up. But, by simply getting in close and crouching down to the dog’s eye level, the photo is much more interesting. This is also important for portraits. To that end, all I ask is that you never, ever tell your subject, “OK, stand over there!” and then shoot the photo from 30 feet away.

• Shoot a ton. The more photos you shoot of the same thing, the better your odds of capturing something good. Try different angles, too. In the example photo below, I popped off 20 photos from the time the couple opened the basket until the last butterfly fluttered away. The other 19 photos were decent, but they just didn’t have it like this one. I’d challenge you to shoot at least five extra frames of everything you photograph – portraits, candids, landscapes … you name it. Even with the slowest of point-and-shoot cameras, you’re sure to get better results.

• Waaait for it… Good candid photos require anticipation and patience. See the shot in your head, wait for the moment to happen and have your shutter finger ready when it does. In the example photo, I saw the kids playing under the table and then waited a few minutes for them to pop out. By being patient, the photo in my brain became reality.

• Composition. Sorry, this topic is too big for me to tackle. But I won’t leave you hanging. To learn more, click here.

Remember that there are no ironclad rules in photography. It’s totally subjective. But by following these simple tips, your photos should improve and Bremer Bank will look better to external audiences.

Craig Dirkes is a public relations writer and photographer for The Salvation Army Northern Division. To view his work, click here and here.

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