"If your picture isn't good enough, you're not close enough," said famed war photographer Robert Capa, and it was a philosophy he took to heart. Whether it was jumping out of a landing craft on D-Day or crawling along the front lines of the Spanish Civil War, Capa was constantly risking life and limb to get as close to the action as possible.
You probably won't have to dodge any bullets in your family snapshots, but by following Capa's advice, you can fill your photo albums with much more intimate images. A pair of children playing with a puppy is a fantastic image, but not if you photograph from the other side of the yard. Get down, get dirty and get in the action. You might get dog slobber on your lens, but you'll capture action shots instead of just snapshots. Children, especially, are too often photographed from above by taller adults. By stooping down to their level, you can establish direct eye contact and capture a more engaging picture.
Time Magazine is renowned for featuring extreme close-ups of celebrities and politicians on its front cover. You may have seen hundreds of pictures of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, but when his life-sized face is suddenly staring at you from a newsstand, it has a dramatic effect. Don't be afraid to follow Time's lead. Try photographing only your grandmother's eyes. Zoom in so close to your baby's face that you can see the individual pores on her skin. Up-close-and-personal photos are a bit more challenging to take, since it requires you to shove a camera into your family's face -- but you'll capture details that are well worth the effort.
More Great Links
- Caputo, Robert. "People and Portrait Photography Tips." August 2007. (Dec. 8, 2010) http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-tips/portrait-photography-tips/
- Chauvin, Yanik. "15 Steps to Perfect Family Portraits." Dec. 3, 2008. (Dec. 8, 2010) http://yanikphotoschool.com/tutorials/15-steps-to-perfect-family-portraits/
- DigitalCameraTracker.com. "5 Steps to Being More Photogenic." March 22, 2010. (Dec. 8, 2010) http://www.digitalcameratracker.com/5-steps-to-being-more-photogenic/
- Farid, Hany. "Photo Tampering Throughout History." (Dec. 8, 2010) http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/farid/research/digitaltampering/index2.html Greenspun, Philip. "Portrait Photography." (Dec. 8, 2010) http://photo.net/learn/portraits/
- Hinds, Alex. "Best colors to wear for a family portrait." (Dec. 8, 2010) http://www.helium.com/items/1609538-family-portrait-photography-styling-advice-tips
- Hochwarter, Vanesa. "Photoshop me! The truth behind digital retouching on your favourite models and celebrities." (Dec. 8, 2010) http://blog.modelmanagement.com/2010/03/01/photoshop-me-the-truth-behind-digital-retouching-on-your-favourite-models-and-celebrities/
- Jones, Ben. "Benji's Studio Lighting and Posing Tutorial." (Dec. 8, 2010) http://lumitouch.com/benstudiotutorial/index.html
- Kennedy, Randy. "The Capa Cache." Jan. 27, 2008. (Dec. 8, 2010)http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/arts/design/27kenn.html
- Kodak. "Top 10 Tips for Great Pictures." (Dec. 8, 2010) http://www.kodak.com/eknec/PageQuerier.jhtml?pq-path=317/10032&pq-locale=en_US
- Leggat, Robert. "Portraiture." Nov. 23, 2008. (Dec. 8, 2010) http://www.rleggat.com/photohistory/history/portrait.htm
- Museum of Hoaxes. "Oprah's Head Transplant." (Dec. 8, 2010) http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/photo_database/image/oprahs_head_transplant/
- PicturePundit.com. "Better Family Photos that Don't Suck." Oct. 22, 2010. (Dec. 8, 2010) http://www.picturepundit.com/2010/10/22/better-family-photos-that-dont-suck/
- ScienceBlogs.com. "Victorian Post-Mortem Photography." Jan. 20, 2008. (Dec. 8, 2010) http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/01/victorian_postmortem_photography.php
- SimpleMom.net. "9 Tips for Taking Great Family Portraits." Nov. 10, 2008. (Dec. 8, 2010) http://simplemom.net/9-tips-for-taking-great-family-portraits/
- Spectrum Photography Tips. "Ten Tips for Photographing Family Portraits." (Dec. 8, 2010) http://www.spectrumphotographytips.com/ten-tips-for-photographing-family-portraits.html
- Stumblerz.com. "Why don't people smile in old photos?" Nov. 26, 2008. (Dec. 8, 2010) http://www.stumblerz.com/why-don%E2%80%99t-people-smile-in-old-photos/
- The Digital SLR Guide. "How to Pose for Family Portraits." (Dec. 8, 2010) http://www.digital-slr-guide.com/how-to-pose-for-family-portraits.html
Forget those awkward family photos! HowStuffWorks talked to two photography experts on how to look your best in every photo, every time.