Like most people, I have had to endure hours of sitting on over-stuffed sofas, surrounded by extended family whose names I barely knew, looking at poorly taken photographs. Though the meaning and memory of the moment the pictures were taken may have significance to those who were there, these pictures rarely capture that meaning in any way that an uninvolved audience can appreciate. They are also almost always shot in a frustratingly poor manner. It is frustrating because with the knowledge of just a few very simple principles, these pictures can have a more striking impact on sofa-bound captives and more effectively portray the emotions and memories of the those who were there. Until basic photography is required credit to graduate from high-school, here is a guide to help improve your photographic skills and to “wow” your friends with the awesomeness of your family vacation pictures. Though my pictures are certainly not exceptional, I have had exposure to many of these principles from an early age and will do my best to pass what I think I know on to you.
Most people don’t own a single lens reflex (SLR) camera so unless otherwise noted, the pictures taken here were shot with a Sony Cybershot two megapixel point-and-shoot camera. You don’t need to be a pro or have expensive equipment to capture a good shot. You just need to be able to see through the viewfinder or look at your lcd screen with a sharper eye. In each lesson you will see two pictures: The one we got and the one we wanted. The “one we got” is a re-creation of photographs I have seen in family picture albums and the “one we wanted” is the shot that could have been, but wasn’t. General rules will be highlighted in yellow and important terms will be orange. Colors are neato.