It’s that season, and though you might not have a high schooler destined for prom this year, these tips just might help with your next family gathering.
1. CHOOSE A CLEAN BACKGROUND
If possible, choose an outdoor setting with some greenery—trees, bushes, anything with green or flowers. Place the subjects several feet in front of the background.
If indoors, take a couple minutes to select a posing spot and clear any clutter out of the background.
Try to avoid direct sunlight. If you have no choice, place the sun behind your subject and off to one side and force the flash to fire.
2. FALL BACK AND ZOOM
To compose your image, you can either zoom out and get close or zoom in and step back. Try the latter. By stepping back, you shorten the facial features and create a more flattering image of the subjects’ faces.
3. STABILIZE THE CAMERA
If you have a tripod or monopod, use it. If not, set the camera on a stable object. The worst possible way to shoot is to hold your camera out in front of you with two hands.The camera will move and the image will be blurry.
4. KNOW WHEN TO USE FLASH.
In general, don’t use on-camera flash indoors; it will create a very cheap look and very hard shadows. Find a room with the best light. If you have an DSLR camera with a separate flash, you can consider bouncing if off of the wall or ceiling. It’s better to use available light and shoot with a stable camera. Outdoors, a bit of fill flash may be good to minimize eye circles.
5. MIND THE WHITE BALANCE.
Most cameras have a white balance selection. Instead of auto, choose the white balance that is appropriate for the predominant light source. Outside in shade, choose Shade. It will have a great impact on your image colors.
6. COMPOSE THE GROUPS.
Take a few shots of each couple. Have one person place their arms around their date’s waist and you can show their flowers, as well. Then get all of the girls together and then all of the guys, and finally, one shot with all of the couples. Pose them with hands at sides, or partially in pockets, or holding flowers or each other. A few candids will mix it up, maybe using a sporty car or the family dog. You can shoot the guys roughhousing or the girls “getting ready” to go to prom. If multiple people are taking pictures, take turns. You want to avoid eyes going in all different directions.
7. MULTIPLE SHOTS FOR MULTIPLE PEOPLE.
The more people in an image, the greater the likelihood that someone will be blinking in any shot. For larger groups, take at least 5 images. One trick is to have everyone close their eyes, and on a count of three, open them and smile.
8. DO SOME QUICK EDITS.
Spend a couple of minutes to rotate the images so they all show up correctly, and consider a few basic edits: contrast, color saturation, exposure levels, cropping. These fundamental editing steps will take a good shot and make it great.
P.S. If any of this sounds like greek to you, consider calling a professional this prom season who takes all the guesswork out of creating beautiful images of an occasion worth remembering.