Shooting with print in mind – top tips

How to use your Canon camera to capture moments that will look great in print.
In a forest setting, a woman holding a Canon EOS R100 leans over to capture a family photo of two children and a man wearing a yellow cap.

Can you imagine doing without photographs of weddings or other milestone events? Well, you can also capture and preserve the everyday moments in life by shooting and printing family photos. Prints make memories tangible and create lasting reminders of family fun, mementoes of precious occasions, and perfect gifts.

You can assemble a first photo album recording a new baby's early months, which everyone will treasure for years to come. You can make a personalised storybook that kids will love, or create your own greeting cards, or craft a family photo calendar as a unique gift for relatives and friends.

For Vicky Baynton-Williams, her husband Ted and children Audrey and Rex, photography is often a family activity. "We're real photo takers," Vicky says. "I take photos all the time, from pictures of the kids wearing earmuffs to school to them hugging on the sofa. I try not to ruin these magic moments, but if I can sneak in and get a snap of them then I do." Naturally, special occasions require more formal photos. "As soon as we get our tree up in December, we do a family Christmas photo every year," Vicky reveals. "We put on our Christmas jumpers, which is incredibly embarrassing. But every year you see the progression of the kids and them growing up."

Here, Vicky and family share an occasion when they ventured to a local woodland with a camera to take photos to use in printed projects they planned, and we explore some of the considerations to bear in mind when shooting for print.

In a forest setting, a young girl holds a Canon EOS R100 while her mother leans over her shoulder and talks to her.

In a beginner-friendly camera such as the Canon EOS R100, automatic modes mean you can get great results without having to master complicated settings, making photography more accessible and enjoyable for younger members of the family.

Choosing the right camera

For their woodland shoot, Vicky and family used the compact mirrorless Canon EOS R100. It's easy to use and you don't need to know a lot about photography to take great pictures with it thanks to its helpful Guided Menus. You can use Special Scene Modes to optimise your settings for the subject you are shooting, whether it's a night portrait, a landscape or a close-up. A Creative Assist feature helps you quickly achieve a professional looking background blur, adjust colour and lighting, create a classic sepia effect and more, without having to master complicated settings. It also has built-in Creative Filters that make it simple to replicate the look of an old-fashioned black and white photo, a shot from a toy camera, and more.

"The image quality was so much better than on my phone," Vicky adds. This is not just down to the resolution of the 24.1MP APS-C sensor, which captures stunning detail. It's also that the sensor is larger than a smartphone's, which means you can achieve a shallower depth of field and give your portraits a professional creamy background blur.

An additional benefit of the EOS R100 over a smartphone is that you can choose any of Canon's extensive range of RF lenses, which can suit different shooting situations and completely alter the look of your images. The Baynton-Williams family used the Canon RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM kit lens, a compact and versatile option for everyday situations, with a zoom range ideal for everything from capturing the scene on family outings, to beautiful portraits and travel photography.

The IS in its name indicates that this lens features optical image stabilisation, which helps ensure sharp results when you're shooting handheld. Starting with a sharp image is critical because printing inherently has a slight softening effect.

In a photo taken with a Canon EOS R100, a girl wearing mittens and a coat holds a small pumpkin up to the camera, with stands of pumpkins out of focus in the background.

While a slightly overcast day might feel disappointing for a family outing, the lighting will be better than bright, harsh sunlight for capturing those perfect pictures with good detail in both dark and light areas. A camera such as the EOS R100 is capable of shallow depth of field for portraits with pleasingly blurred backgrounds. Taken on a Canon EOS R100 with a Canon RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM lens at 18mm, 1/200 sec, f/4.5 and ISO 100.

In a photo taken with a Canon EOS R100, two smiling children playfully hug while sitting together on an armchair.

When taking photos of children, it's more effective to get down to their eye level. For more formal family group shots, the EOS R100 has a self-timer, plus the option of controlling the camera remotely from your smartphone with the free Canon Camera Connect app. Taken on a Canon EOS R100 with a Canon RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM lens at 45mm, 1/500 sec, f/6.3 and ISO 800.

When you're photographing lively children, the IS also works together with Canon's renowned Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus, which can detect people in the frame, and the EOS R100's continuous shooting function, which can capture bursts of up to 3.5 frames per second with continuous autofocus.1 Vicky found this meant she didn't miss those precious moments.

"We liked using continuous shooting with the EOS R100," she says, "because you know you're going to get a shot of someone with their eyes open and facing you even when they are moving."

When shooting for print, another major advantage of the EOS R100 over a smartphone is being able to shoot RAW. RAW files contain all the image information captured by the sensor, giving you maximum flexibility to process the image afterwards to bring out its character and enhance it. In contrast, JPEGs are processed in-camera and most of the image data is actually discarded along the way. If you choose, you can have the best of both worlds: you can select RAW+JPEG so you can share the JPEG straight from the camera and also use the RAW file for printing.

A father and son sit at a wooden table, the son with one hand on a Canon EOS R100 camera on the table, and the two looking at prints that have emerged from a Canon SELPHY printer.

If you're planning to display your photos around the home, you can get extra creative by matching the colours to your decor, potentially editing the image in software such as Canon's Digital Photo Professional to adjust contrast and saturation, and thinking carefully about the type of photo paper that will get the desired results.

A pair of hands peels a photo sticker from its backing, ready to place it into an album.

The Canon SELPHY CP1500 gives you the option to print on different papers, including mini-stickers, which can encourage children to get involved in the process.

Choosing a printer

The Baynton-Williams family used a Canon SELPHY CP1500 compact wireless printer, which produces vibrant, photo lab quality prints that are water, scratch and fingerprint resistant and will last a lifetime.2 The printer's dye-sub technology can produce prints in a range of sizes from postcard-size prints to mini-stickers, which Vicky, Audrey and Rex loved.

"They were super excited about being able to print a sticker of themselves," says Vicky. "Rex actually sent a postcard to his friend which was a picture of himself! So that's a really nice feature."

Canon's extensive range of printers offer almost unlimited possibilities, from the PIXMA models for outstanding home document and photo printing to the Canon Zoemini range of pocket-size photo printers that don't require ink to print. Find out more about choosing a printer or try Canon's Printer Selector for suggestions based on your needs.

A photo of a child surrounded by leaves is displayed on a smartphone as a print of the image emerges from a Canon SELPHY printer beside it, with a Canon EOS R100 camera in the background.

You can transfer photos wirelessly from the Canon EOS R100 to your smartphone, where you can edit them and add stamps, filters and more using Canon apps such as the SELPHY Photo Layout app, opening up endless opportunities to experiment and have fun with your photos. You can then print directly from your smartphone for quick, easy results.

A mother and daughter sit at a table, smiling and laughing together as they look through a photo album.

The family use photo prints in various crafting activities, whether it's in a photo album or in papercraft creations. In addition to producing something memorable as the end result, it's a great way to get the children involved in a project.

Tips for shooting for print

For this shoot, Vicky and the family explored their creativity in new ways because they were shooting with the end result in mind. Here are seven tips for best results when shooting for print.

1. Lighting. Don't be disappointed if the sun doesn't come out – the diffused light of an overcast day is ideal for photography. It means there will be no harsh shadows, so you're more likely to be able to capture details in both highlight and shadow areas, which is important for a vivid print. This is also the best light for capturing natural skin tones. If you're shooting indoors, the best lighting is diffused natural light from the side, such as a window out of shot, rather than high-contrast direct light that can cause unflattering shadows and very dark areas that will print with no discernible detail.

2. Use Picture Styles. These are in-camera presets that give you a different mix of sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone for different image types. For shots of people, try the Portrait Picture Style – it moderately reduces the sharpness and slightly increases the brightness to give softer-looking skin.

3. Composition. Getting creative with different angles and backgrounds can make for some interesting prints for your home, and there are plenty of techniques for this. Try shooting from low to the ground for an unusual viewpoint, or use natural elements of the scene such as trees or doorways to frame your subject. Leading lines such as a path, a fence or an overhanging branch can help guide the viewer's eye through the frame to points of interest. Switch on the 3x3 grid on your camera for a useful technique called the rule of thirds to help you compose your scene.

In a photo taken on a Canon EOS R100, a child leans against a tree at a tilted angle against a forest background.

For unusual and characterful portraits, you can shoot from a low or high angle, or create a composition using interesting objects in nature, such as this leaning tree in the forest. Taken on a Canon EOS R100 with a Canon RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM lens at 23mm, 1/85 sec, f/5 and ISO 100.

In a photo taken on a Canon EOS R100, a child stands framed in the opening of a hollow tree trunk.

For engaging compositions, make use of natural framing devices like this hollow tree trunk. Using the Portrait Scene Mode has thrown the background slightly out of focus but still captured the interesting texture. Taken on a Canon EOS R100 with a Canon RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM lens at 29mm, 1/160 sec, f/6.3 and ISO 640.

4. Compose for the purpose. Consider your picture's end use when composing the shot – for example, if you're shooting a family group intended for a calendar, ask yourself whether the composition will work as a square crop. If shooting for a greeting card, leave space at the top or the side of the frame where you can add some text.

5. Backgrounds. Look beyond the subjects and consider how the background complements them. Make sure it does not detract from them, whether because of distracting detail or clashing colours. In the edit, if necessary, you can blur, desaturate, darken or lighten areas, to further focus attention on the subjects, but it's always easiest if you can get what you need in-camera.

6. Consider colour. If you have a particular setting in mind for a particular shot, such as a wall where you want to hang a large photo print, think about the colour scheme of the room. Is it full of vibrant tones and painted walls? Taking a shot with complementary colours and a mood similar to that of the space will ensure it harmonises, as can matching warm and cool colour tones. Of course, you can adjust colours when you process the shot in software such as Canon's free Digital Photo Professional. Also, converting the image to black and white can help it fit in, add a timeless feel to family portraits, and reduce the impression of chaos in busy scenes.

7. Quality counts. Ultimately, the better your shot, the better the print is likely to be. So use all the features your camera offers you to get a great photo to start with. Are the important parts of the image sharp? Use the camera's AF Tracking to lock on to the eyes of your subjects, the critical element to get sharp in any portrait. Ensure your image capture is as noise-free as possible, with a full tonal range from darkest to lightest. This means choosing the correct exposure settings and the lowest possible ISO – and if you cannot use a high shutter speed to eliminate the risk of blurring due to camera shake, use a tripod or brace the camera against a steady object. The EOS R100's handy guided menus and Creative Assist will help you get the best possible results here.

A photo album lies open on a wooden desktop, with some loose prints and a Canon SELPHY printer.

To Vicky, preserving treasured moments has become more poignant since she and Ted have lost their parents. "I do think it is incredibly important to take photos for memories," she says. "And just to remember to take photos of all members of the family, really, because we're only here for as long as we're here."

Whether you're planning to decorate your home with personal images, create unique gifts for family and friends, or make scrapbooks and papercraft activities to keep the children entertained, printing your photos adds an extra dimension to them.

For Vicky, Ted, Audrey and Rex, making photo albums is an activity the family can enjoy as a group and also helps them relive the memories created together. "The kids love revisiting those moments, so it's quite nice if you can do it in little chunks of time," Vicky explains. "If you print them all and stick them in a book, then it becomes the memory of that particular year or season."

Written by Lorna Dockerill and Alex Summersby

  1. Continuous shooting max. approx. 6.5 shots/sec with Electronic 1st-curtain shutter using One shot AF. Speed maintained for 97 JPEGs (all sizes), less if shooting RAW, C-RAW, RAW + JPEG or C-RAW + JPEG. Using Servo AF, max. approx. 3.5 shots/sec.
  2. Thanks to a special protective coating, photos will last up to 100 years when stored in an album. Based on accelerated testing, assuming a temperature of 23°C / 73.4°F and humidity of 50%.

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