Did You Get My Good Side? Photography tips to help your photos look their best.
I am terrible at taking photos. No, like really REALLY bad. I either have too much going on, weird lighting, or my focus is not clear. My thinking was that maybe practice would just make my photography better. I mean, I have kids now so I am getting a lot of practice in. Alas, I still take bad pictures but in a much larger quantity.
My photography skills do not jive well in the digital world. It is hard to use certain types of social media if you do not have any photos you are comfortable with other people seeing. My Instagram depends on the photography skills of others. I would like to change this, so I have redirected my methods of improving my photography into research. Through study, I can say my photography is getting better. I still have a ways to go, but I feel like I am on a better path now.
If you are like me, here are some tricks I learned that have helped me the most.
What do you want me to look at?
Often I would take photos with too much going on in them or just off. To really help draw the eye to what you want your viewer to look at, it helps to remember the rule of thirds. Imagine what you are about to shoot is divided into three pieces horizontally and then vertically. Place the subject of your photograph in the cross hairs of these lines. This is where the eye is naturally drawn. You can read more about the rule of thirds here.
Once you have your frame divided, do not try to fill every square with something interesting. Embrace the negative space in your pictures. Negative space really makes the subject stand out. It is okay to have other stuff in the background on occasion, but when you do, make sure that your subject is the one that is in focus.
What do people like to look at?
Think about balance and symmetry. People love it when things line up just so. Think of a grand staircase and how visually appealing it is. Play around with taking some photos that are perfectly equal and then try taking some slightly off balance, like something big next to something small. See which ones appeal to you more. Order is usually the one I am drawn to but it is fun sometimes to find beauty in the chaos.
So point straight and shoot, right?
Kinda? It creates visually dynamic photos if you change your perspective once in a while. Try taking a photo from a very high angle down on your subject. Or, flip it and take a picture from below. Be mindful not to take pictures up people’s noses though. This is not cute.
Also, while it is fun to change the angle of your camera up or down, try to keep it level. Having a picture where the horizon line is off makes it seem like you are tilting in a fun house. Unless you are going for off balance motion sickness, try to avoid it.
Leading lines are fun to play with too. Think of taking a picture down a spiral staircase or up a mountain path. Taking pictures of different angles and remembering leading lines while you do so help create depth in your photos. It makes people wonder what is outside of the frame that they just can’t see yet. Try this out to spark a little mystery in your next photographs.
I’m just gonna take my picture from here.
NO! Get in close! I made this mistake too many times. I took a picture of my kids playing on the playground or whatever and figured I could just zoom and crop later. Big surprise, the pictures turned out horrible. They were grainy or pixelated. Get in close to your subject and make sure that only what you want is in your frame. Do not rely on cropping later.
My flash is only for night time.
Super not true. A flash at night can often cast crazy shadows or odd glares on whatever you are trying to shoot. Using your flash in the day time can help combat shadows you don’t want and can even bring out more detail in your subject. Play around with your flash and see what can be brought to light.
Speaking of crazy shadows, don’t take photos in direct sunlight. I always thought this was the best lighting but it turns out I was super wrong. When the sun is at its brightest, it will cast odd shadows on everything. I have pictures of my toddlers that look like they have not slept in weeks because of the dark circles under their eyes. Simply step into the shade with your subject to fix this problem.
I hope these tips will help. 🙂
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