Lights, Camera, Distraction: 5 DIY Magic Tricks for Better People Pictures
My favorite illustration of the rapid pace of developing technology is the fact that the everyday pocket calculator has more processing power than the computer that landed humans on the Moon. As a modern equivalent, the everyday cell phone has more photo capturing and processing ability than many of the digital cameras from as little as five or ten years ago. The first digital camera I bought in 2003 had a resolution of 4 megapixels, while my current (and mostly outdated) cell phone’s camera has an astounding 8. Oh, and besides being a camera, my phone also does about a thousand other things that my first and even current digital cameras cannot.
For social media, most web applications, and even some broadcast media, the camera on a cell phone will more than suffice. Gone are the days when getting into photography meant a large upfront investment.
But just as having a pocket calculator is not a guarantee one will get to the moon, having reasonably high-resolution cameras always at our fingertips is not a guarantee that the photos will be any good.
As with all other areas of digital marketing, in photography Content is King. A simple, strikingly-composed candid shot of your CEO playing with her daughter at the company picnic will make a much bigger impression than the same shot of the two of them artificially posed in a studio. What good is having the latest cameras, lenses, and post-production software if the final photo isn’t memorable for the intended audience?
Do you rely on the same stale product shots, that while perfectly lit and edited, seem sort of… dull? Does your CEO’s corporate headshot feature the “he looks like he’s about to either sneeze or break wind” face?
I submit that the answer is not always more make-up, lighting, and Photoshop. Sometimes the answer is as simple as exploring the little idea that makes you think, “Hey, I bet that would be kind of cool.”
These are five tricks I have learned from my various misadventures in music, event, and portrait photography. They are by no means rules, but simply five things that seem to work most of the time. The main idea is that these are five out of infinite possibilities for any type of photography. These tricks have worked for me, and while they may work for you, even more importantly, I encourage you to follow any idea that makes you think, “Hey, I bet that would be kind of cool,” and you will be conjuring up your own tricks in no time at all.
1. Mirrors can be used for much more than selfies
In large areas, a mirror will make the room look bigger, and will allow you to get multiple angles of subjects in the same shot. A mirror will also automatically increase the feeling of depth in the photo as well as simultaneously boosting contrast. This technique works especially well with children and behind the scenes photos of pre-event preparation.
Go to any concert or sporting event and you will see masses of people taking photos on their phones. Why not take a photo of someone taking a photo? This presents a unique perspective because it focuses on both the subject of the photo and the person taking it at the same time. So meta!
3. Include the Audience
If the band is killing it and the mosh pit is losing its mind, or the speaker is moving the audience to tears, why not show that? The lone speaker can make a very good photo, but showing the effect the speaker is having on the audience can bump the emotion to the next level.
4. Include the Surroundings
When capturing photos of people, it is easy to focus only on close-ups and headshots, but if the immediate area is also part of the story, it will add to the subject rather than distract from it.
5. Tell Jokes, Don’t say Cheese
This my personal favorite, as well as having a success rate of almost 100%. It is easy to tell if the smile in a photo is genuine or forced. Forced smiles make the photos look obviously posed and uncomfortable. The best natural smiles are those that accompany laughter. The eyes widen and brighten, and because laughter is often contagious, when you can get the whole group to laugh, you will capture the most genuine smiles all at once. Don’t ask them to say cheese, tell a joke, make a silly face, be goofy. When they are laughing, snap the photo.
ABOUT THE EXPERT: Cody Kelton
Cody is a Senior Client Success Manager, and the night owl of the team. He received his BA from New Mexico State University and his Kindergarten Diploma from Edgewood Elementary. He has a vast (bordering on savant-like) knowledge of Legos, British Royalty, and Left-Handedness.
When not writing silly things in internet bios, Cody has spent the last twelve years as a freelance photographer specializing in astrolandscape photography. In his free time he likes traipsing about the state taking photos and finding treasure. He currently resides in Albuquerque with his two cats, Octavius and Milhouse.
MultiVu, a Cision/PR Newswire division, produces and places compelling content strategically across multiple channels globally to deliver targeted results and drive desired engagement. Created in 2002 from network news veterans and media relations professionals, MultiVu has grown into a content creation and media strategy company, leading in the broadcast communications industry. More information can be found on www.multivu.com.