Social distancing and sheltering-in-place have made it challenging to celebrate many special milestone moments, such as birthdays, graduations and Mother’s Day. Fortunately, virtually everyone has access to a decent camera and can take good pictures, whether they own a DSLR camera or simply use the one built into their phone.
During this tumultuous time, Nikon has launched a program called Creator’s Hour to entertain, engage and educate amateur photographers at home. Every week, photography experts provide classes, host live chats, post photo challenges and more. You can follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Though if you want to start snapping professional-level photos, you don’t have to wait for the next Creator’s Hour event. Nikon Ambassador and professional photographer Dixie Dixon offered us some expert tips so you can begin taking great photos at home — just like a pro would!
Get To Know Your Camera
Becoming familiar with your camera’s settings is key to taking great shots. Dixon explains, for instance, that you should adjust the shutter speed on your camera depending upon whether you’re trying to capture an action shot or just taking a posed photo. She mentions the iconic graduation photo in which the graduates all throw their caps into the air.
“You can easily capture this special moment by changing your camera settings to have a fast shutter speed,” she says.
Another helpful feature on your camera is its self-timer, which allows everyone to get in on that photo. After all, snapshots of Mom, Dad and Grandma are just as important as pictures of the kids.
“Make sure to set the camera in a spot that will capture your whole squad, click the timer and jump in!” says Dixon.
Create An Ideal Setting
Even if you’re limited to your yard, you can still set up a picture-worthy background. Dixon recommends using items from around your home to enhance your pictures.
“Decorate your front yard for a fun backdrop,” suggests Dixon. “Simple decorations like balloons, streamers or signs will bring your photos to the next level.”
She also mentions that unexpected props — like basketballs, paintbrushes, bubbles or even flowers from the garden — can make your photos more personal.
“Adding flair can help relax your subject and allow their personality to shine through,” she says.
All About Lighting
Even if you’re a complete novice, you can still adopt the mindset of the pros and take stunning shots of people, places and things.
For instance, professional photographers know that lighting can make or break a photo.
“Whether photographing indoors or outside in the backyard, always make sure your subject is facing the light,” says Dixon. “When shooting inside, use natural light from a window or door to brighten up the scene. For outdoor photoshoots, try to avoid shooting when the sun is at its peak in the afternoon. Instead, go outside during ‘golden hour’ just as the sun is beginning to set. If the light is really bright, ask your subject to close their eyes and then count to three and have them open and snap the photo — this technique will make their eyes bright and wide open in the photo.”
Play With Angles
Another pro tip is to avoid sticking to head-on headshots.
“Play with the angles to create unique images,” says Dixon. “Try shooting from a higher angle so the shot is slightly down on your subject. You can also mix up the composition by having your subject stand to the right or left side of the frame to create negative space on the other side.”
And above all? Have fun!
“Start simple and don’t stress,” says Dixon. “Photography is a great way to express your creativity and de-stress, so make sure you’re doing just that!”
This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Checkout Simplemost for additional stories.