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One of the reasons digital photography is so popular is that it allows families to take pictures of each other and the events, gatherings and important days of their lives. Father’s Day is one of those occasions that provide an excellent opportunity to take special pictures of Dad and Dad with his family. It will also be opportunity to develop your photographic skills by planning and executing some Father’s Day photos as self-assignments, not just quick snapshots.
Assignment #1: Take a portrait photo of your Dad.
If you think of these Father’s Day photos as an assignment from a client, then take some time to plan the kind of photos you’ll take, just as a pro would. Think about your Dad’s profession, favorite hobby or leisure activity and how you could incorporate locations and/or objects into your portrait. You don’t necessarily have to photograph your Dad actually working at his job or participating in a hobby, but you could include an object or two that represent those parts of his life in your pictures. Plus, giving Dad an object to hold in his hands will make your portrait photo a better composition.
Don’t forget to ask Dad how he would like to be portrayed. He may have an entirely different idea than what you’ve assumed. You should ask him if he would feel more comfortable and less nervous if other family friends were present or would he rather be alone just with you.
As you plan for this “assignment” or any other, always ask yourself these three questions:
“What is the subject of my photograph?”
“How can I attract attention to the subject?”
“How can simplify the picture and eliminate any distractions?”
For this assignment, the subject is your Dad.
The answer to the second question is more involved. Attracting maximum attention to the subject (your Dad) is a function of where you photograph him and with what supporting objects. All of that relates to being able to compose an excellent portrait and not just frame and shoot a quick snapshot. (Read the PhotographyTalk.com article, Digital Photography—How To Compose Photos Instead of Just Framing Them.) In most cases, however, the best way to attract the most attention to your subject is to fill the frame with him.
Your planning should include deciding what clothes he should wear and the best time of day for natural light or what kind of artificial light sources you will use if you’re shooting in an interior setting. Lighting considerations are very important because a single-source light, such as flash unit, may not create a flattering image. It might be better to position Dad where a large amount of light comes through a window and use your flash to fill and define the shadows. (Read the three-part PhotographyTalk.com article, starting with Digital Photography—How To Use Fill-Flash to Improve Your Pictures, Part 1.)
If you plan your Father’s Day portrait carefully, then the image you see in head will already be somewhat simplified and the distractions eliminated. Once you start the photo shoot, however, be sure to continue to simplify and eliminate distractions in real-time. You may discover a better or different image than what you saw in your head.
Some of the best subjects to create outstanding digital photos are people you see every day: your family members. It’s easy to take them for granted, but you can make them feel special if you plan and schedule a photo shoot with them to reveal much more of their personality and character than a snapshot could ever do. Father’s Day is a wonderful day to give your Dad the gift of your creativity.
Read Part 2 of this PhotographyTalk.com article for more Father’s Day digital photography ideas.