Do you feel inadequate with your tiny camera while your friend lugs around a DSLR with detachable lenses? While these high-end cameras are popular, not everyone wants to invest in one. It’s expensive, bulky and inconvenient to tote around.

Tips on how to take great photos, with just
about any camera. Image: Corbis

We spoke to Singapore photographer Hendra Lauw on how to take better photos with a compact camera. His simple tips on family and child photography – his speciality – will help elevate your regular shots to greatness.


  • Getting your timing right: There’s always someone who blinks when the camera clicks. The foolproof way to avoid this? Before you take the shot, ask them to shut their eyes. At the count of three, ask them to open their eyes and smile, as you press the shutter.
  • Framing: For a group shot of people sitting on a sofa at home, crop it just below the knees. Bare feet look unsightly in photos.
  • Space: For larger groups with two or more rows of family members, ask the people behind the front row to lean in closer to create a sense of intimacy.
  • Coaxing children to look at the camera: To get fidgety kids and babies to look at the camera for posed group shots, have someone hold a puppet or colourful object near the camera as you click away. It’s a trick all studio photographers use.


  • Focus on the eyes: These are the most expressive part of the face, and the most important element of your photo. Shoot with natural light falling on their faces when taking close shots to create a lively twinkle in their eyes.
  • Go beyond the close-ups: Capture children in their environment – playing in their room, or interacting with their grandparents. When they are older, these photos will be a great reminder of how they were.
  • Take multiple shots: With today’s digital cameras, there is no reason not to take lots of shots. It takes perseverance to catch just the perfect expression, at the right moment.


  • An object sticks out from behind a person in the photo: Cut out clutter that does not add impact to photos. Come in closer, move around your subjects 360 degrees, or vary your angle to find a clean background.
  • The skin tone looks unnatural: Avoid taking shots in mixed lighting, where there’s both tungsten and fluorescent lighting – it alters the colour of the complexion. Turn off one light source.
  • Dark shadows under the eyes: To avoid this effect caused by harsh sunlight – between 11am and 2pm – take wide shots or action shots instead of close-ups. Otherwise, move subjects to a shaded spot. 

Photographer Hendra Lauw is the winner of the Best Photography Blog at the 2010 Singapore Blog Awards. Visit his website at:

This article was originally published in SimplyHer February 2011.