This week we asked you what photography concepts you wanted to learn more about on our Facebook page. Well, we heard you! There were a lot of questions about creativity – how to find it and where to start. This week I am answering your questions about intent and composition!

Before heading out the door to do any type of photography, I ask myself,  ”What is my intent today? What am I trying to portray in my photographs?” Maybe I’m headed to a family session where I need to capture frame-worthy photos. Or maybe I’m headed to the park to catch my kids in action, playing together on the slide. Or maybe I’m traveling and want to make sure I catch all the unique landscapes, people and cuisine around me. For each of these instances, my intent will be different – either to help guide my subjects into natural poses, use my focus to capture my boys in action, or to find texture and color in my photos.

What to Think About Before You Click
Week 13: 3/23-3/29

what to think about when taking pictures

What is the intent of my photography?

Before even picking up your camera, decide on your intention.Then, knowing what technical and compositional elements to use will come naturally. Before shooting, get a general idea as to what settings to start with. Then, you can tweak them along the way. I can tell the majority of you are pretty comfortable with your technique. Now’s the time to use all the tips and tricks you’ve learned along the way, concentrate on your intent and develop the composition of your photographs.

Get into the habit of thinking about the intent of your photographs and you will notice how the composition of your images improves.

Let’s take a look at few scenarios to help you grasp this concept. In each of these situations, I am going to walk you through my thoughts. Welcome to my crazy world!

1. I am headed to a great travel destination and want to capture the sites.

If I am traveling somewhere with amazing landscapes, the first thing I am going to do is pack the appropriate lens. In most cases, I’m going to want to bring my zoom with me. Now that I have a lens that can take in my surroundings, I think about my settings. Since I am a sucker for landscapes, I keep my aperture small {bigger f /}. This will help keep everything in focus.

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Camera: Nikon D60
Aperture: ƒ/3.5
Shutter Speed: 1/4000 sec
ISO: 800
Lens: 35 mm

2. I am a new mom and I want to make sure I capture all the tiny details.

Newborn photography has easily become my favorite. I love how I can be in control of the composition{well as much as you can be when you are dealing with a 10 day old baby} and how I can really focus on my intentions. Do I want to capture the tiny toes, ears, and nose? Do I want to capture them sleeping? Having a plan helps you know what to do and when to do it. If you want capture all the little details, then you know you want to work with a large aperture {small f/}. This will help zero in on what you are capturing {i.e., nose, ear, fingers, etc.}. It will also help you pull in all the available light. I try to always avoid using any kind of flash with babies.

what to think before you clickCamera: Nikon D7000
Aperture: ƒ/2
Shutter Speed: 1/13 sec
ISO: 400
Lens: 35 mm

3. My kids are running around the park and I want to capture them in action.

Don’t we all? Whether I’m shooting my own boys or a family with children over 2, I spend most of my time chasing them around. Yes, it’s exhausting, but it’s so worth it. What’s better than capturing kids being, well, kids? Once they start running, I know I’m going to have to start working with a faster shutter speed. And once I up my shutter speed, I know I am going to have to also adjust my aperture. Since I am working with a moving target, I use a wider aperture {bigger f/} so I can get them in focus. If you are working with a wider aperture {small f/}, you run the risk of your focus landing on something other than your subject, like the background.

fixing photography mistakes Camera: Nikon D60
Aperture: ƒ/2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/800 sec
ISO: 100
Lens: 35 mm

4. My house is a cave. We don’t have any natural light but I want to take pictures indoors.

Every time I walk into a client’s home, I walk in blind. I have no idea what the lighting will be like in their homes. You may feel like your home is a cave but there’s light somewhere. You just have to find it! Most of the time, the light is somewhere you wouldn’t expect it. I’ve done sessions in the kitchen, in the bathroom, and by the front door. Sometimes just opening up the front door allows a ton of light into the room. Another favorite spot of mine is in front of sliding doors. If you want to get really tricky, you can bounce the light onto your subject with a reflector. And, you don’t need a fancy reflector, anything white will do like a piece of paper or poster board. You can even cover a piece of cardboard with tin foil as well!

As for settings, I know I am going to have to use a faster shutter speed and wider aperture {small f/}. I also may bump my ISO if my images are too blurry with the fast shutter speed. I try not to go over an ISO of 800 because then my images will be too grainy. If you are still having problems with lighting, then you made need to bust out your flash, whether it’s your pop-up flash or an external flash.

Here is a little set up that I did in my kitchen.

what to think before you clickCamera: Nikon D7000
Aperture: ƒ/2
Shutter Speed: 1/160 sec
ISO: 250
Lens: 35 mm

5. My photos always seem to lack something. I really want them to pop!

Another way to add a little something to your photos is by changing up your perspective. Shooting straight on might give you an okay photo. But if you switch up your angle, say by shooting overhead, suddenly your photo pops. This is my go-to trick of the trade when photographing people. When I shoot them from overhead, the light reflects off their eyes and I catch that twinkle. Don’t just move yourself, you can also move your subject. For instance, have them stand on an angle instead of facing you straight on.

fixing photography mistakes

There are times when shooting straight on might the better shot. I caught the shot below straight on because it really enhanced the depth of field. Had I shot this from the side, it would just be a boring branch. But from the font, the shot draws you in and leaves you wanting more. With a wider aperture I could also capture the creamy background that really added another dimension to the photo. Composition and creativity is all about experimenting!

fixing common photography mistakesCamera: Nikon D60
Aperture: ƒ/2
Shutter Speed: 1/1250 sec
ISO: 400
Lens: 35 mm

 This week, your challenge is to think before you shoot. Think about your lighting sources, the composition of the photo, and what your intent is before photographing. Make sure you share your images on Facebook!

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