The craft of scrapbooking is all about images, as it is a way of creatively displaying photographs that mean the most to you. Whether they come from a digital or film camera, a good photo is the starting point and often the inspiration for a scrapbook page so it is well worth taking a few moments to think about taking a great photo.
Here are some tips on taking a good quality photos which can be applied to digital and film cameras. Whilst things can be corrected with software it is more time efficient to get it right at the photo stage.
Firstly, should you shoot in black and white or colour? This applies to film cameras. Nowadays we are all used to colour but don’t overlook the good old black and white photos. These can be more effective in portraits and particularly wedding photos, as they produce a timeless image. Not only that, but black and white images are more stable colour wise and so will last longer than colour. Professionals recommend you take one black and white film every year to preserve family history.
Don’t just shove your negatives into a box! Keep them filed in wallets labelled and away from heat and damp to make sure they stay safe.
Get to know your camera. It sounds basic but read the manual. We think digital cameras do everything for us but you still need to know its functions and limitations, it’s not just pressing a button – it’s still possible to take out of focus pictures on a digital camera.
Look at the arrangement in the viewfinder. Do not think, “I’ll take lots and one will be alright” – the chances are they will all be lacking if you don’t get the basics right. Look at the subject of the picture and then at the surroundings – is there an ugly rubbish bin in the background? Could this be omitted if you get a bit closer? Ask the person to move or move round yourself. Where is the sun? For best images it should be behind you.
Think about distance and empty space in photo – zoom in for close ups which make more interesting shots, then zoom out for the whole scene. This way your page will have various sizes and be more interesting.
If you have a fast digital camera why not take a series of pictures. For example at a child’s sports day you could snap the last part of the race to get a sequence of, say, five pictures for your page – so don’t just go for the starting shot and final shot – try to capture the mood. By spending a little time planning a shot you will be more aware. Often, the more natural shots turn out to be the best too so don’t try to get lots of posed ‘forced’ shots.
Take a picture of the place you are visiting, or a road sign where your hotel is located, or the name of the restaurant you ate in. Scrapbooking is about recreating memories to try to take images which evoke the exact memory of the holiday.
Again, try to take photos of your family or friends when they aren’t aware to avoid the posed picture. We have all sat through albums of so-and-so stood in front of numerous sites, but how about when they are reading the map or asleep on a bench?
When you have printed out your photos or received them back from the printer, now it is the time to sort through and decide which ones you want to use on your layout. Discard any which are blurry, out of focus or don’t really work. Don’t throw them away though as there may be some elements you still want to use. For example, if you want to use just one person then why not cut them out? When you have decided on the theme of the layout, take two or three of the best images and decide how to lay them out. A popular design is the pyramid or triangle, where you have two shots at the bottom and one on the top of the page, in a triangular shape.
You can then design around this shape. Alternatively, for a sequence of events or to convey motion, three shots in a row is a striking layout. Or sometimes just one large image positioned in the middle of the page really stands out, for example a mother and child or a couple kissing for a wedding layout. Remember, the layout should focus on the photos as they are the most important part.
Tricks of the Trade
To make images stand out, matting is a good idea (mounting photos on coloured card so a small border shows). If you want to focus on a particular part then why not cut the photo so that it is smaller. This is known as cropping. Make sure you label images too with names and dates to explain the theme of the page. This is called journaling.