Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Crafty Corner : Photography

Photos are our memories, frozen in time. Pink Heart Society edior Jenna Bayley-Burke is fresh off an intro to photography class and sharing a few quick tips.

I've always loved to take pictures. Back in the day, photography was quite the expensive hobby. Photos were taken on film, and developing costs factored in as well. You never knew if you got the shot until you developed the pictures.

Now, things are less expeinsive, but the basics remain the same. We all want a photograph or ten to hang around the house and remind us of places we've been and moments we've shared. More often than not, instead we're left with Auntie Terri's shoulder blocking a corner of the first birthday cake or a blurry seven year old running across the field.

Sometimes we're sure this can be fixed with a better camera. Digital cameras seem to improve weekly, so this new model must take better pictures. And maybe it does...but my soccer player was still blury and I seemed to forever cut off the baby's head as I tried to catch her whirling about.

Now, most photography tricks don't translate well into capturing toddler moments. Cherubs simply have no attention span for that kind of thing. So my first bit of advice?

JUST TAKE THE DARNED PICTURE. If you want a picture of it, snap one quick. And then...

STEP CLOSER AND TAKE ANOTHER. Thank goodness for digital. You can erase all the duds later on the computer.

THEN, FRAME YOUR SHOT. Think about what you want in a frame and go for that. Zoom in, change the camera position, move around so you're getting side light instead of back light.

What I'm saying is that you'll probably end up with 3-10 options instead of one. But, it's digital. That's what it's designed for. professional photographers take hundreds of shots for one print.

FILM SPEED is something we no longer think about. Remember buying rolls of film in 100 with the picture of  sun? 200 with the picture of a house? 400 with the line drawing of a runner? Most cameras allow you to select this in your menu. We just don't and trust the green 'auto' box. Odds are, you're probably smarter than the chip in your computer. When trying for great shots, select your film speed.

LIGHTING is what separates snapshots from photographs. Most digital camers have an option where a strange graph pops up on your display. It used to be that I would push buttons until the annoying thing went away! Now, I use it. Try and keep the spikes in the middle for the best colors. Too many spikes on the left means shadows (which you might be able to fix on the computer later) too much on the right and your picture will be too bright (which you can't fix).

THE MORE PICTURES YOU TAKE, THE MORE YOU CAN LEARN. Go out and experiment with your camera. Take a picture of the same thing in all the settings and see the differences between them. Spend a day photographing your favorite moving thing (cat, kid, pinwheel) and see which lighting and settings you like best.

PRINT THEM WELL. An 8x10 from my desk jet is not wall-worthy. And...there are places where printing is actually cheaper than doing it at home.

And because y'all know I write books, I do use photography to help keep track of ideas. Detail photos to help bring a setting to life, landscapes for storyboards, I've even taken pictures of words I'd like to use for titles. I haven't managed to work any of them in yet, but I will :)

Go on...take a picture today. Maybe every day this week. Or this year.

Jenna Bayley-Burke is a best-selling author recently featured on Good Morning America. Kinda. Compromising Positions made the best seller list for Kindle for a few weeks, and GMA did their daily top ten list of Kindle bestselling ebooks and Compromising Positions made the list. But doesn't it sound better the first way? Be on the lookout for Jenna's latest, Private Scandal, available in 2 weeks. Keep up with Jenna's spin on things on her website & blog.


  1. Beautiful photos.

    My husband holds the camera in our family. He quite often brackets his shots.

    LOL on the toddler pictures. We don't have kids of our own but my sister now had none grandkids ranging in age from 16 to 2. Trying to get a picture where they all look good is almost impossible. My husband has been known to cut a head out of one picture and import it to another. Photoshop is a partial miracle worker.