This series was created for the amateur family photographer. These tips are simple, quick things you can do to vastly improve the photos you take. Every family has one person that tends to do all the photographing. Growing up in my family, this was my father. This role is important as the images you capture will become the family legacy.  I will be using photos that I have taken in my role as the family photographer, NOT images taken with my high end cameras, complicated techniques OR studio lighting. THESE ARE IMAGES THAT ANYONE CAN TAKE , MANY OF THEM SHOT WITH A POINT AND SHOOT CAMERA! There are even a few examples taken by my children. So, the point is, these tips are for anyone who wants to photograph their story better.


This first tip is the ONLY one that is a bit more cerebral but I just had to put it first because it is the foundation for a good photograph. The rectangle of space that you see when you look through your camera is your canvas. You can fill this space up in anyway that you want. Often people unconsciously put the camera to their face, point in the direction of the given subject and then press the shutter button. The end result of that type of unconscious photography is a lot of photos taken from far away with a small subject in the center.

As long as you are taking the trouble to take a photograph, go ahead and slow down, take a deep breath, and really look through the view finder. Be intentional about what goes into that box. It is your box, for God’s sake! Below I have three examples of how one can choose to fill up their box in the same situation.

In this series it is Halloween time and the kids are showing off their jack-o-lanterns. My intention was to get an image of each child with their pumpkin and to hopefully tie in the mums as they always remind me of that time of year. With each try I improved. My first attempt was with Amira (mind you it was pitch black at this point and I could barely see). There is a ton of wasted space between her and the pumpkin.

Next I tried with Roman. The result was better but kind of mediocre. All the content of the photo is crammed down into the lower, right-hand corner. And I captured more of the stems of the mums than the flowers.

Third time is a charm! I photographed Leo last and this time I got a nice mix of child, pumpkin and flowers. Too bad he looks like a deer in headlights!

So, the take away from this first installment is to watch and be intentional about what you are photographing. This is why I love photography so much. No matter what is going on with my life it is a time to for me to be a witness of the present moment at the exclusion of all else.

This is the first tip in a series of eight aimed at helping amateur photographers to take better photographs of their family. Please do feel free to ask if you have any specific questions or if you have any suggestions for a great local photo story!