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Top 5 photography-related tips for your heirbooks

The best heirbooks are made with careful planning and dedication. Here are our top 5 photography-related tips if you're thinking of having an heirbook produced at some point:

1. Set the date and time on your camera

We can't stress enough how important this seemingly mundane point can be. If you, like many others, amass photographs over the years and one fine day decide you need to organise them, there really is no better way to start than to sort them in chronological order. Dates help you remember what a particular snapshot was about (e.g. birthdays, anniversaries, christmas) or work out the age of a family member. Correct dates and times also allow pictures taken on different cameras (or phones) to be placed in one place together. We've had clients handing us photographs which have not been properly dated... trust us, it's a nightmare you want to avoid at all costs.

2. Go outdoors where possible

Regardless of what camera you own, photographs taken outdoors in natural daylight will appear better 9 out of 10 times. Indoor shots, unless you're a seasoned photographer with some pretty good equipment, tend to suffer from inaccurate tones, blurring caused by slower shutter speeds, graininess from higher camera ISOs and are generally less forgiving. Especially if you're photographing kids who aren't staying still! There are exceptions to every rule, and if the indoor location is part of the story then you should definitely snap away. If so, bump up that ISO to improve your shutter speed and try to get some shots in RAW format as that will allow for better results from editing. And investing in an SLR with a fast lens will do wonders for your indoor shots.

3. Get that shot

A good photo is better than a poor one, but a poor one is better than none at all. Heirbooks are about special moments and memorable events. And this doesn't have to be things like weddings and birthdays, but also the normal things like the expression on a child's face as they experience all those little things life has to offer for the very first time. Don't worry if you don't have your fancy SLR camera with you, whip out that phone and take a shot.

 4. Get closer... then step back

One of the key lessons of photography has always been to 'get closer to the subject'. There is definitely ample wisdom in this mantra. Try it - get closer to your subject, and then get closer and closer still. Often a great shot comes from excluding rather than including.

However, don't forget to step back. In storytelling, you also want the context. So you've got a great telephoto (zoom) lens allowing you to get magnificent close-ups of your son on his school sports day. But don't forget that wide shot of the sports stadium or complex, or that shot of him lined up with the other athletes. 

5. Organise and backup those photos

Photographers can tell you that organising photos is an art unto itself and you could write an entire book about it. We expect that most people don't have a very robust system of organisation. For starters, you need to at least transfer them out of your smartphones or cameras and onto your computers. Create backups regularly onto external hard drives or via the numerous (and affordable) cloud backup options now available. Smartphones and cameras get lost or damaged ever so frequently, as do laptops.

The simplest way of organising them? Well this depends on what software you're using. If you're not using any particular photo manager (like Picasa, Aperture, Lightroom) but simply storing them in folders on your computer, do always put them in one place and even simply organising them by year would be a good start. But we highly recommend using photo management software (such as those above) that allow you to add tags, keywords or assign star ratings to photos so you know which your favourites are. Without a system of organisation, sorting through years and years of photographs can appear to be an insurmountable task. Therefore get organised now for all your new photos, even if you can't face organising all your old photos. You'll be extremely glad you did in a couple of years' time.

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