I asked a dear friend of mine, Mike Bebenita, to give me some pointers on how to use my fancy -schmancy camera. Got some good pointers and why not share them?
1: Zoom out and never touch the zoom button again. Use your feet to zoom in and out. If you zoom, you will get a crappy picture that is pixelated and out of focus because it's harder to keep the image steady if you're zoomed in.
2: Imagine that your photo is balancing on a scale. You've got to make sure that your photo is balanced, this means you almost never want to put your subject in the middle of the photo, because there will always be something in the background on either side that will make it look unbalanced. So, as a rule of thumb, never put the subject in the middle.
3: Don't take pictures of obviously pretty stuff, the whole point of photography is to express how you feel, or how you see something. So, take pictures that reflect how you feel about things.
4: Six billion people see the world from a 5'6" high perspective. Bend your knees, take photos from a different perspective or angle.
5: Play with black and white. Colors are very difficult to work with because they get in the way of your photo, they hide patterns and texture. Just ask yourself when was the last time you saw a good color photo?
6: If you have a fancier camera, use the A/V (Aperture Priority) mode on a Canon camera. Open the aperture (this is the size of the hole in the camera) as wide as possible (the lower the number the better). It works like your eye ball, the bigger the hole the more light gets in, which means you can take pictures in lower light conditions. Also, if you do that it, you can make the background all blurry which makes the subject look nicer.
7: Hold the camera close to your face; your face doesn't shake as much as your hands do if you extend them out in front of you.
8: Realize the photo button can be pressed half way. ALWAYS ALWAYS pressit HALF WAY first, wait for it to beep, this is how you focus on something. Then, move the camera to get the right composition and press it all the way.
Also, if you don't do this, you will shake the camera when you press the button all the way.
And a few tips of my own...
9: Take candid pictures. Ignore the impulse to force your subjects to always pose staring at the camera. Variety is important.
10: Use natural light. Cloudy, overcast days provide the best lighting for pictures of people. Bright sun makes people squint, and it throws harsh shadows on their faces. Indoors, try turning off the flash and use the light coming in from a window to give your subject a soft, almost glowing appearance.
*And for the photographer: Use the self-timer. Don't forget to get into some of the pictures yourself. Set your camera on a flat surface or a tripod and don't just document photos, be a part of them!