Archive for April 17th, 2008

Portrait Photo Tips from National Geographic

April 17, 2008

Balinese Dancer, Photograph by Paul Chesley

I remember my grandmother kept a hallway closet full of National Geographic magazines: yellow spines out, lined up in tall vertical stacks that reached toward the ceiling. She just wouldn’t throw them away. Visiting that closet as a kid was like a trip to C.S. Lewis’ magical wardrobe which transported children to Narnia. Whenever we visited our grandmother, I could spend hours marveling at all of those amazing photographs and dreaming of the seemingly distant places filled with exotic animals, people, and foreign customs.

Take a look at these very practical portrait tips paired with photographs by National Geographic staff photographers, which I’ve attempted to extract and paraphrase below:

1. Take advantage of your shooting location. If you see something that resonates with you, even if just on an emotional level, try to find a way to incorporate it into your photograph.
2. Move in close and be bold. Impact and drama can be heightened through contrasts, such as in the photograph above with the dramatic lines and colors and the intimacy of the dancer’s gaze.
3. Remember the Rule of Thirds. Good composition will help you capture the meaning of both a person and a place.
4. Use a telephoto lens. Telephoto lenses can be useful to isolate your subjects from the background and to keep your distance in order to prevent your subjects from feeling intimidated.
5. Be ready. If you find a good location, take the time to hang around and be ready to capture a shot when it occurs.
6. Shoot in bars and cafes. If your subjects are engrossed in something else, like conversation or music, it will be easier to get unobserved candid shots.
7. Slow shutter speed. Using a slow shutter speed can create an impressionistic effect, such as a blurring train or passing traffic.
8. Arrive early and stay late. If you want to capture new and interesting shots, position yourself in new and interesting environs at unexpected times.
9. Make use of the environment. For a group shot, see how the environment can be incorporated to tell the story.
10. Incorporate new angles. Try shooting with low angles and other angles to achieve a different kind of intimacy with your subjects.
11. Good portraits are both of people and about people. Get a sense of your subject’s environment and how that can tell the subject’s story.

A tip of the hat to Rob Galbraith’s Digital Photography Insights website for pointing out this excellent photo gallery.


On, it’s Easy to Share

April 17, 2008

“Pink Rose 8” by David Cresine

If you were spotted snapping photos at the birthday party, family reunion, or other special gathering last weekend, chances are you also received numerous requests to send your photos afterward: Mom wants to see them and so does Uncle Richard and the twins.

One of my favorite features on is the “Send to a Friend” button. It’s so easy to use. It really makes it a snap to send your snapshots to everyone on your list. Simply click on the “Send to a Friend” button under any photo album or photo on and compose a quick note right there. Enter your name, email address, and the email addresses of Mom, Richard, and the twins and anyone else, and then you’re just about done. automatically adds a descriptive subject line and message for you, and both can be used as written or quickly customized as you see fit.

Now click on “Preview Message” and you’ll get a preview of the outgoing message exactly as it will be sent. Once you’re happy with your message, click on “Send Message” and you’re done! Everyone you emailed will now have the links they need to see your Photobird photos and photo albums the next time they check their e-mail. And you’ll get a copy of the email in your in-box, as well.

When you make your photo albums on, it’s so easy to share your photos, there’s no good reason not to share them with friends and family.

Tip: It’s just as easy to copy the link for any album or photo from the address field of your web browser, and then paste the link into any e-mail you want to send, bypassing the “Send to a Friend” button altogether.