Dexter’s Christy Malene of Open Box Photography shares a few simple tips for taking better photos with your phone.
Like a lot of us, Christy enjoys taking a good picture. Unlike a lot of us, she took her interest a few steps further and studied the craft at Madonna University where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast and Cinema Arts. She went on to earn a Masters in Arts Administration which makes a good foundation for creating a business out of photography. She knows what she’s talking about.
I had a chance to sit down with Christy recently and hear about the art of photography and what draws her and others into it so passionately. With everyone now having a camera in their phone and taking pictures, Christy had these tips to share for creating better photos.
- Use Natural Light: Whenever possible use the natural light around you. Try not to place your subject directly in front of a bright sunny window (it will either blow out the window or your subject will be too dark to see). Instead have the subject be in the light, or place them so that a bright window is just in front of them.
“I was kind of born and raised in front of the camera,” says Christy. “My dad, Chuck Derry, was a wedding photographer and then he was a director at Channel 7 Action News for awhile. That started me down the path of wanting to be around cameras.”
What really drew Christy into the business of photography was when she saw the impact it could have on people. When her best friend became pregnant, Christy offered to take her picture giving her the chance to be comfortably in front of a camera.
“Wow! These photos are really good,” her friend said when Christy showed her the results. “I feel so beautiful.” Christy was hooked.
“I can make people feel great about themselves as a business,” she told me. “And that’s the real goal when it comes to photographing people. You want them to feel good about themselves.”
- Don’t Zoom: Move yourself closer to your subject – as you zoom in you lose picture quality and often the photo will become grainy and more difficult to see.
It’s not just about capturing the moment, but capturing the moment in the right way. Some people have a better knack for taking pictures than others. Some people are trained professionally. “When you hire a photographer,” Christy says, “You’re hiring the person behind the camera, their ability, their vision to not only set the camera right, but to draw the subject out with that certain smile or look that captures their personality.”
Her advice is to try and think of the bigger … (cough) … picture when taking a photo, like a pro. A few thought-out photographs can be much more satisfying than a load of hastily clicked pictures hoping one turns out.
- Change Perspective: Trying to get a good shot of your kids? Get down on their level! Interact with them and take the photo from their eye level, it’s so much more intimate and ultimately makes for better photos.
“A large part of what I do with the camera is give people confidence in themselves when they see their photos,” Christy explains. “I love hearing comments like ‘Oh! I do look good!’, or ‘Look how happy we are!’”
“It’s not about just a person clicking away behind the camera but rather what that person behind the camera can bring out in the person in front of the camera,” she says. “That’s where my focus is and it creates great pictures.”
- The Rule of Thirds: For some people it’s natural to put the subject directly in the middle of the photo – try out the rule of thirds for more pleasing composition. Many phones have grids or guidelines to help you discover the rules of thirds. Place the subject’s eyes on the top line of the grid as a general rule of thumb.
“I was recently doing a photo shoot with one of my high school senior clients,” Christy says. “I showed her the picture on the camera’s screen. She said ‘Dang! Slayin’ girl!’”
“That’s a good thing?” I asked.
“Its high school speak for ‘that’s amazing!’” Christy explained. “Making that a person feel like they are the most beautiful person they’ve ever seen, making a person feel comfortable in who they are, their shape and their appearance is why I love being a photographer.”
- Keep the Lens Clean: Photos coming out blurry? Make sure you remember to wipe that camera lens! Our phones go everywhere with us and often get dirty; wipe it before taking a photo for a clearer and cleaner image.
Christy’s suggestion is to still use a professional photographer for those iconic moments: graduation, family portraits, the kids first whatever, weddings of course and other celebrations. Take advantage of the training and experience a photographer can provide.
“Everyone with a phone can take a picture now,” says Christy. “The convenience has caused a lot of sloppy photography. Don’t settle for less in the important moments.”
If you’re walking around Dexter Daze later this summer, you can find Christy in her booth taking pictures for free; capturing the moment for folks enjoying themselves and giving them a memento to look back on years later. Look how happy we were.
“Free?” I ask, “Not ‘free’ as in you have to buy something?”
“Free means free,” she laughs. “I do it to get people to go to my website.”
If you would like visit Christy’s website before then, you can find it here.