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1. Explore the light. Learn to read where the light is coming from by looking at shadows - notice if the shadows are hard-edged or soft-edged. A general rule for beautiful images is to plan your photo shoot for early morning or late afternoon light because softer shadows equate to less contrast in your scene and more flattering light for your subject. If you must shoot images at high noon, move your subject under the shade of a tree or building.

2.  Mix it up! Change your angle and distance from your subject when taking the photo. Viewing images taken from the same distance and angle becomes dull and boring. With children, get down on their level and don't be afraid to zoom in close to capture every detail.

3.  Use the rule of thirds and move your subject over to the side of the frame. Placing people right in the middle of the frame is great for the perfunctory passport and driver's license photo, but unless other interesting compositional elements are present, it's not an exciting image. Think of the scene in your viewfinder or on your LCD display as a tic-tac-toe board and mentally divide the image into thirds, and place something of interest at one or more of the intersections.

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4.  Keep it real. Don't force a child to strike a pose or force a smile. A compelling photograph captures an authentic moment, a look, or a gesture that elicits a feeling from the viewer. Motivate kids to move around and photograph them from a variety of angles. Choose a location for your shoot, then encourage play, action, and activity. Be silly and have fun.

5.  Mode Dial - Get creative and choose a customized Mode Dial setting! The Basic Zone Modes (icons) automatically choose the exposure settings for your selected scene. The Creative Zone Modes (P, TV, AV, M) can give you full or partial creative control over your exposure settings.

6.  Daytime is a good time to use your on-camera flash. You can fill in dark shadows across faces created by harsh overhead sun, and illuminate your subject when they're positioned in front of a bright background.

7.   Get closer than normal by using the macro mode on your camera. The flower icon button activates the macro mode and enables you to focus closer to your subject and capture details in your images that were previously too small or out of focus. Just because macro mode is represented by a flower doesn't mean that flowers are the only allowable subject. Get creative with a few of the following macro photo ideas:
• Flowers and insects
• The human eye
• Baby's fingers and toes
• Textural detail in fabric, stone or wood
• Coins and collectables

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8.   Control the light. Create a more attractive image by bouncing or diffusing the available light. Bouncing light brightens up faces, gets rid of shadows and creates a catch-light in your subject's eyes. Diffusing the light softens harsh light falling upon your subject. You can buy a reflector or diffuser at a camera store, but you can also use common household items. Aluminum foil wrapped around a baking sheet, a car dashboard reflector, or a white foam core board can be used to reflect light. Translucent fabric, sheer shower curtains, or plastic bags can be used to diffuse the light.

9.  Give yourself ROOM to ZOOM. To eliminate distracting elements and provide a flattering perspective – stand back and give yourself room to zoom into your subject and fill the frame.

10.    Think about using color to create a compelling image. From vibrant contrasts of primary colors to the Zen-like mood of harmonious blues and greens, color can determine the emotional content of a photograph.

Prepared by Erin Manning. For more information, visit www.erinmanning.com.

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