Someone once said one of the most valuable things he’d leave behind for his family would be his photographs because they start conversations, bring back memories, and strengthen relationships with friends and family.
And this man was far from a photographer – he just took pictures.
Most of us appreciate good photography, but with the hustle of life, we often forget to slow down to capture it in pictures. As a result, taking pictures for others and sharing them is a valuable way to connect and serve.
I’m barely competent with a camera, but I’d like to share what little I’ve learned as well as what I’ve seen others do. The general principle, though, is this: serving others with photography means making others look good in pictures and feel good about them afterward.
8 tips for taking pictures people care about
1. Photo people
When you see a group picture, where do you look first? Be honest here. My guess, from personal experience, is that if you’re in the picture, that’s where your eyes go immediately.
So indulge others – include them in the pictures. Given the choice between a beautiful shot of the Grand Canyon or a decent portrait of a close friend, most prefer the portrait.
2. Include lots of people in each picture
If one person is good, multiple people is better. Why?
- It takes the pressure off one person. Secretly, people love good pictures of themselves, but who’s going to hang their own portrait in their living room? It’s hard to get away with that. People feel less guilty if others are in the picture too.
- You can multitask your pictures. Less people want a portrait of one person – if it’s a group photo, everyone included wants a copy… and extras for friends.
3. Shoot from odd angles
The straight on, “say cheese” approach is nice, but it’s also nice to switch it up.
For example, try to get around holding the camera yourself to take a picture of you and your friend. Instead, set your camera to delayed shoot mode, place the camera on the ground, and get your shot that way. Weird angles make will make your pictures stand out.
4. Fill the frame
The advantage of holding the camera yourself is that the camera stays close.
As a general rule, if you’re taking a picture of one person, get within five feet. Invade their bubble. They’ll appreciate it later when they get fantastic pictures out of it.
5. Avoid built-in flash
You know that flash that goes off and blinds everyone? Dump it when you can. Snap shots in naturally lit areas.
- You’ll get more professional looking photos because professionals sure don’t sure those lame flashes.
- You’ll help your friends feel more casual because they won’t have a flash going off.
- You might save ten years of your friends’ eyesight.
6. Snag pictures in the off-seasons
In other words, keep a camera with you all the time, not just around Christmas and birthdays. Everyone gets a flood of photos on those days, and while it’s still good to capture those moments, people will appreciate your pictures more if you take them when no one else is taking them.
Plus, the pictures turn out more real, not all Holiday’d up.
7. Learn what people like
Some people hate pictures of themselves. Some people hate certain poses. On the other hand, most people have certain types of pictures they really like, even if they know nothing about photography.
Ask and experiment around so you can share the pictures people most enjoy.
8. Take lots of pictures
How do you learn what people like and find those amazing shots?
You take a lot of pictures. You can’t do this mindlessly and expect to improve, but if you pay attention to what works and what doesn’t in your pictures, you’ll learn fairly quickly.
Bonus: Learn some basic photography rules
I’ve given some here already, but it’s amazing how much your pictures can improve if you spend even 15 minutes learning and applying some simple principles.
8 excellent, picture arrangement ideas
1. Framed photos
With digital photography taking off so well, I for one forget about framing pictures. A special picture is a wonderful gift, though, even if you don’t spend much money on the frame.
2. Picture boards
Get a cork board or a large poster frame and fill it with pictures. People love this stuff.
3. CDs/DVDs/thumb drives full of pictures
If you’re going digital, this is the lazy way to share. But don’t let lazy turn you off – I love getting a ton of pictures this way.
Girly with a capital G… but hey, I still like ’em even though I don’t make them myself. If you’re into making them, most people are into receiving them.
5. Facebook and tagging
This is perhaps the fastest way to spread pictures, and one of my personal favorites (even though uploading still takes forever… at least the way I do it).
Why do it like it?
- With people I might not otherwise share pictures with…
- At all hours of the day or night.
6. Photo albums
Old school is still cool. Do I need to say anything else here?
7. Texting photos
I’m not a fan of texting, probably because I’m back in the stone age here
But if it’s your thing, rock it. Show the rest of us how fantastic it is. It’s fun seeing pictures spread in almost real-time.
8. Digital photo frames
These are expensive for what they are, but my grandparents love them. They’re something to consider as a gift to an entire family. And once they have it, you can keep sending them more pictures for it.
Bonus: Take their picture for them with THEIR camera
I couldn’t end an article about photographing for others without mentioning this oh-so-important one.
You know when you see that couple struggling to get their own picture with the beautiful backdrop? Or that family trying to use the trashcan as a tripod? Go help them out. Offer to take the picture for them.
Okay, I could go on and on about different ways to use photography to serve others (think weddings, church picnics, photo journaling you, your children’s, or your friends’ lives), but yeah… I think you get the picture.
(1) Every habit starts with one action. Start today. Take at least one picture and share it with someone.
(2) I’m not a good photographer like some of my friends. I know I’ve left out some tips. So what would you add? How do you take pictures? How do you share them?