PLEASANT HILL-BASED photographer Bambi Cantrell has a new book, The Art of People Photography, which introduces amateur shutterbugs to professional techniques. We asked Cantrell, whose portraits have been featured in The New York Times and Ebony, for some tips on how to turn your family photo album into art.
Go In for the Close-up: Amateurs commonly set up too far away from their subjects. “You have to ask yourself, ‘Is this picture of the scenery or of the subject?’ ” Cantrell says. “Come in tighter and capture the expressions on the subject’s face.”
Get out of the Sun: If the sun is beaming directly into the subject’s face, he or she will look washed out and squinty. Put the sun behind your subject; light up their face with your flash.
Help Your Subject Look Natural: When photographing kids, Cantrell never asks them to “say cheese.” Instead, she plays games with them to capture genuine smiles.
Carry a Big (Memory) Stick: Don’t fret over the number of megapixels in your digital camera (you’ll do fine with any four-megapixel model), but do make sure you have a large memory card or compact flash disk to hold plenty of shots.
Print Your best shots: Often, the photos we file on the computer are forgotten or erased. Cantrell recommends the PictureMate by Epson, a portable printer that produces four-by-six-inch photos.