Pro tips for taking photos

Photographer Eddee Daniel is a talented and knowledgeable advocate for our natural surroundings. When he explores a park, his camera is just as essential as a water bottle and good hiking boots. Eddee shared some tips about snapping photos at Lakeshore State Park, a setting that offers uniquely dramatic and varied views.

Rule number one: Enjoy yourself. You don’t need to be a pro or think about making art, says Eddee. Just think of your camera as another way to enjoy nature and notice things you might otherwise miss. “It slows you down,” says Eddee. “It’s an exercise in trying to look around you and find the small things, too. And the in-between things. Not just the big things.” 

Any kind of camera is OK. Fancy cameras and lenses are great, but if you don’t have those things, don’t worry. Phone cameras can produce wonderful images, and Eddee uses one often. “You always have it on you, so it’s there when you need it.” A camera phone isn’t great for photographing motion, but on the other hand it makes panoramic photos much easier. And with its broad vistas and big skies, Lakeshore State Park is a great place for panoramas, says Eddee. 

Start by deciding what your subject is. “You need something to point the camera at, right? It sounds obvious, but it’s important.” When you frame an image, look for a focal point — an animal, a butterfly, a flower, the city skyline.  

Consider different angles and distances. Once you’ve picked your subject, try moving around and finding different angles. You can move closer in or farther away, hold the camera higher or lower, center your subject or offset it. “Not only is this going to change your perspective, but it will change the way the light falls on your subject. That’s always important.” 

Think about people, too. “Lakeshore State Park is a very popular park, people are constantly going through it,” says Eddee. “If you’re going take a picture of the landscape why not have somebody riding a bike through it? It enlivens the scene and gives you something to relate to.” It offers a sense of scale, too — if the bicyclist looks tiny peddling past Lake Michigan, you get a better sense of where you are. 

Watch for moments. A bird diving for fish in the water. A boat sailing by. A dad pushing a stroller. A child collecting stones. Finding a moment makes each photo unique and makes photography even more rewarding.

  Eddee in the Park (photo by Diane Bacha)