How to Take Photographs Instead of Snapshots

What is the difference between a snapshot and a photograph? The thought process taken before the shutter button is even pressed.

Snapshots are taken with no thought to composition, lighting, subject matter, and no thought to intentions of what to do with the images once they have been taken.

These are some tried and true ways to being turning your snapshots into photographs:

  • Clearly identify your subject
  • Is it the birthday decorations, the birthday presents, or the birthday child
  • Understand your subject
  • Balloons move, presents can have sparkly and reflective ribbons, children move around
  • Have an idea on how you will set up your composition
  • Where do you want the child to be in relation to the cake when blowing out candles
  • Realize your lighting conditions and how they will affect your exposure
  • Do need to set custom WB? Can you dim the lights for birthday candles? Will you need a tripod if the lights are dimmed? Do you want depth of field? Do you want to show motion?
  • Edit in person – Remove unwanted items out of the foreground and background; don’t plan to remove or fix something with editing software
  • It takes 2 seconds to move a soda can, ask someone to step an inch to the left or move yourself into the position you need to be in. It can take hours to edit a collection of photographs from a single birthday party.
  • Keep an eye on your background
  • Keep backgrounds simple and clutter free so they do not compete with your subject. Be aware of items which may “grow out of heads” or objects which could cause harsh shadows.

With just a few seconds of careful consideration, you can turn your album full of snapshots into coffee table books full of photographs.