One of the things I enjoy most in my work for the West Virginia Conference is photography. From Annual Conference on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College to nature shots along the bank of the Gauley River in Webster County; photography is fun, and a way I participate in the life of this Conference. Here are five tips that I use every time I shoot:
Shoot the room
The action may be going on up front, but there are interesting perspectives everywhere. Move around the room! I like to share the faces of people listening and asking questions, just as much as the person presenting. This is true for all settings, though, really. Your eye, and ultimately your lens, may see the space in a new light from a different angle.
Zoom with your feet, not your lens
I’m going to get a little technical here but stick with me. Whether your camera cost $3,000 or $100, you are likely to have an optical lens, which will allow you to zoom in and get closer to your subject. Remember, though, the best zoom is your feet. Get closer to the action, and the difference in detail will be far better. Some cameras, such as the iPhone, use digital zoom. Don’t rely on it. You will wind up with distorted photos and would be better off using a basic photo editor like Windows Photo Gallery to crop. Not that iPhone cameras are bad. Here’s a bonus sixth tip: the best camera is the one you have. Don’t be afraid to capture the moment, in the moment.
Start with the basics, then play
Early in my career as a videographer in a local television newsroom, I saw my colleagues bring back a lot of interesting angles. I assumed that I too had to perform at this level, and would only look for the most interesting shots. A reporter I worked with pulled me aside and said; “I need the meat and potatoes first, then give me the dessert!” What he meant was, get the basics to build our story, and then have fun. What are those photographs that you absolutely have to get? To start, it’s probably something that will only happen once. At Annual Conference, this may be the processional during opening worship, or the breaking of bread during communion. After that, get a wide setup shot, a medium shot, and finally a close detail shot.
One of the first things you’ll learn about in basic photography: is the rule of thirds. Imagine a photograph, and then visualize a grid pattern. At the intersection of the lines, is where you want the focus of your image to be. This is designed to help you take pictures that are more appealing to the eye. Research shows that the eye will be drawn to the intersection of the lines.
Quantity brings forth quality
The more pictures you take, the more likely you’ll get a great photograph. If I take one hundred photographs, it’s likely that only a quarter of them will be uploaded to our Flickr feed. Only one or two will be printed in a Mountain Circuit publication. To help ensure I get the right shot, the first edit I do is I try to check the camera’s display and look at the last few photographs I took. Does it look like I’m getting what I want? If not, keep going. This is particularly true for a speaker at a lectern to avoid awkward looking mouths and closed eyes. Then, when I’m back at my computer, I load all the photographs open only the ones I like in my photo editing software. Then I do some simple cropping and adjustments. This is to your own preference.
Have questions? Contact your communications team, we’d love to share ideas!