1) Pay attention to the light
Diffused, soft light is a key to beautiful images. Although this light happens early and late in the day, there are tricks to finding it at other times throughout the day. I like to look for campers in the shade which trees or buildings have created. Use Clouds to your advantage; they are wonderful diffusers of light! I often wait for campers to move out of the harsh, direct sun until I start shooting. Communicate well with your subjects. Sometimes having them take a couple of steps to the side or rotate direction will make all of the difference in the world!
Always be aware of the sun’s location in the sky. I frequently shoot in the direction of the sun, letting its light give the subject some pleasant back lighting on their hair. This also eliminates the shadows on a person’s face.
2) Go for great composition
Considering just a few things when you’re framing your subject can turn a snapshot into a piece of art!
Fill your frame. Cutting down on background clutter by zooming in on your subject or stepping in closer will consistently improve your results. This simplifies the scene and avoids distracting background features. I’m constantly looking to avoid those distractions like trees or branches coming from behind heads!
Avoid the middle of the frame with your subject. This can turn a “blah” picture into a real “keeper” that is interesting and dynamic. I seek to do this while creating a nice balance with everything else in the scene. Photography nerds call this the “rule of thirds.”
Lines can draw viewers into an image and give some nice depth to the composition. I am always looking to use paths, roads, streams, fences, buildings, alleys and bridges to make a more interesting composition. These “leading lines” can add some serious magic to your images!
3) Candid shots are the best
Use the element of surprise to your advantage. You will end up getting more special shots with people looking natural and relaxed. Standing on the edge of the action rather than front and center can be a great place to start. A longer zoom lens is a real advantage for this; I LOVE my 70-200mm lens.
Distract your subject. Getting people to think and talk about something else will bring out their comfortable and relaxed side. A great place to start is asking questions about their family, pets or favorite people, places and things. Start snapping away while they are talking and unaware!
About the author:
Dave Johnson is an assistant director for Camp Merri-Mac for Girls and Camp Timberlake for Boys and a portrait photographer who loves taking pictures at camp!