Expert Advice on Taking Great Pictures This Summer

June 2, 2011 at 4:32 pm , by

Now that weddings, reunions and other summer events are upon us, why not sharpen your shutterbug skills to better capture those moments? National Geographic photographer and expert in the field, Jim Richardson sat down with me to prove you don’t have to be a professional to take professional-looking photos, and offered some advice on how to make your summer snaps, well, snappier…Flint Hills

Don’t invest money in a new camera. Invest time in the one you’ve got. “The type of camera probably won’t improve the picture very much, but your knowledge of how to use it will,” advises Jim. Save your money, and learn the different settings and features on a camera you already own – this way, when a photo-worthy moment presents itself, you won’t be stuck trying to decipher those tiny menu buttons.

Stash your flash. These days, many photographers, civilian and professional alike, are opting NOT to use their camera flash in favor of rich-looking natural light. “There are flash pictures that are done really well, but they are rare compared to the beautiful look of the natural world,” according to Jim. Digital cameras are especially adept at snapping no-flash pics since they can capture images in darker settings than film.

Worry less about lining everyone up perfectly. We’ve all been in or taken one of these shots; it’s an eternity before you get everyone lined up and looking in the same direction, and by then they might be saying words less friendly than “cheese.” While these types of pictures act as a good record of attendees, Jim’s advice is to “include the personality of real life into your pictures – the children running, or your uncle falling asleep, or the champagne spilling. Capturing the candid moments helps to preserve the real memory.”

Practice strength in numbers. One way to sharpen up your photo collections is to simply take a lot more pictures, knowing plenty will get deleted (like that random picture of someone’s shoe or the baby that turned away as soon as you clicked). Digital cameras of course allow you to do this without the added cost of film, but the principle rings true for either format. By saving the editing process for later, you can capture the full scope of the event and distill it into the images that best convey the story.

Think you’ve got an award-winning photo on your camera? Jim is a judge in the 4th Annual Energizer Ultimate Photo Contest accepting entries until June 30th, the Grand Prize Winner of which will receive the trip of a lifetime.

Photo courtesy of Jim Richardson.

Instantly Awesome Photos

May 6, 2010 at 11:21 am , by

Who needs an expensive (and heavy) digital SLR camera when you can get super cool pics with photo filters? The filter snaps onto your phone’s camera lens and makes every photo just a little bit crazy (in a good way). Do you want your kid to look like a super hero zooming through space? Easy with a starburst lens. Want to make your hand look gigantic? Done with a wide angle lens. Check them out at

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