FAQ Do I need a DSLR?
Making good pictures with a Point & Press Camera?
Some simple guidelines for better picture making.
The most commonly used camera to make snapshots is the point and press camera. This camera has come a long way since George Eastman built his Box Brownie. Current models have built in zooms, flashes that can be turned on or off as needed and many other features. Despite this I still feel that some folks are a little intimidated by the idea of making an image with one of these cameras, because it is a CAMERA. Of course the feature sets of these cameras mean that almost anyone with a bit of common sense can make successful images with them. But what constitutes a successful image? Are there any guidelines that I can suggest to help in this process? well I'm glad you asked. Yes there is start with my article on Photographic Composition
Ok all done? Now here are my tips for making your images successful with a point and press camera. And by successfully I mean sharp where you want them to be with everything in the picture that you want to be, ie no cropped off heads etc.
Taking The Shot
If your camera has a wrist or neck strap USE IT!
When holding a camera, ANY CAMERA, always hold it with two hands. With one hand laid out flat place the camera in your palm. Use the other hand to wrap around one side of the camera ready to press the shutter release.
Bring the camera up to your eye. Tuck both elbows in. Look through the viewfinder, compose your shot. Wait, have another look or read my article on composition, check again through the viewfinder. Take a breath, just a normal one, then SQUEEZE/CARESS the shutter release. Under no circumstances jab at it. Advance the film ready for your next shot as the one you just took should be perfect, or if your camera has automatic film advance or is digital your ready for your next masterpiece.
Some extra tips on holding it steady
Where ever possible, utilise any wall or solid object to help keep the camera steady, a wall or fence for example. Make sure your feet are slightly spread apart roughly at 45 degrees to each other. Some people even slowly exhale, as they squeeze or caress the shutter.
Making sure the camera does it right.
Your camera came with a manual, read it!
In particular read the section that talks about closest focusing distance, and just as importantly, the how close things should be when using the flash.
Don't expect miracles either. Your $100 dollar camera is not capable of recording the super group in the stadium 1/2 a kilometre away on the stage as they perform the encore to their swan song. The little flash is only designed to light small rooms for situations such as parties and dinners. Change the batteries at least ever other year, unless you shoot 5 rolls a day.
Keep your fingers off the lens on the front of the camera, fingerprints will degrade the quality of your images substantially, dust doesn't help either. Keep the camera in some sort of protective case or cover this will also help maintain the quality of the images and keep the value of your camera up.
Some Aesthetic Considerations
The lenses on these cameras are often designed to get as much as possible in focus as they can. This has some advantages and disadvantages. The type of lens that best does this is called a wide angle lens. The drawback to this lens is it can make objects appear further away than you are to them, so get close fill up the frame with what ever it your photographing, but bear in mind the points I made earlier about flash and focus.
The more sophisticated the cameras may allow a pre-focus. This means that by putting the person or object being photographed in the centre of the frame, and half pressing the shutter release, you can then re-compose the photo and have the subject off centre but keep the focus on the subject.
Portraits, are often more flattering if taken with a longer length lens, so zoom in if you can and make people look nice.
Landscapes are often best made using the Wide angle component of the lens on your camera so zoom out and get as much of the scene as possible, but always bear in mind my tips on composition