Be Not Uncle Fred

You know Uncle Fred. He carries a camera and thinks he knows about photography, but he does not. None of you are Uncle Fred, or you would not be reading this.

Uncle Fred takes snaps like this, where everything is wrong. See if you can spot the problems in this recent snap of a student:

Uncle Fred Takes A Picture

And there are many, including:

  • The picture is blurry (both out of focus as well as motion-blurred due to a slow shutter speed).
  • The orientation is wrong.
  • There is too much mess.
  • Fred puts the subject right in the centre and cuts off the bottom.

Uncle Mike, on the other hand, does the following:

  • He turns the camera to a vertical position.
  • He gets closer.
  • He watches the background and simplifies.
  • He uses good composition rules, like the Rule of Thirds.
  • He uses a fast lens – a lens with a low “f”-number.
  • If he uses a flash, he bounces the light off a wall or ceiling behind him.
  • Using one focus point, he focuses on the eyes – the closest eye, to be precise.

Uncle Mike Takes a Picture

That is simple. None of this needs a lot of knowledge, does it?

Here’s another one, of a lovely student the other night,taken with a 50mm lens:

Student Robbin

So for your next portrait, please try to get close, fill the frame, shoot vertical, and use a fast lens, focused on the closest eye, using either available soft light or a bounced flash. See the difference!

2 thoughts on “Be Not Uncle Fred

  1. I know what your message is and I agree what you are saying but one small comment: I don’t think uncle Fred was trying to make a portrait picture. That picture is more about the environment than about the person in the front row at least to me. Unless uncle Fred was really trying to take a portrait of this person. Who knows? Probably Uncle Fred does not know that either. He is just happy to push the big button on his camera 😉

    • Exactly. You see, environmental is good – if the environment is meaningful. Uncle Fred takes the Uncle Fred picture not because he wants that, but because it does not even occur to him to get closer.

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