How to make in impact with your photos
Thank you to LBK’s first guest blogger, Kory Chase of Twist Photography.
In today’s digital age, we are never more than an iPhone click away from a timeless memory. We use our photos to capture our moments, to keep in touch with those who are far away, to sell our products, to personify our businesses, and so so so much more. We no longer leave photography to professional photographers. Technology is exploding around us every day, at times daring you to ignore all that it is capable of. Point-and-shoots are the size of credit cards, now affordable DSLR cameras can fire off countless shots in the blink of an eye, and thousands of images can be stored on a card that is the size of a quarter! And as fast as these tools are thrown at us, they are changing. I believe there is a photographer in all of us.
The good news is, whatever you shoot with, and whatever you are shooting….the classic rules of photography have remained the same. So remember these tips no matter where you are pointing your camera. Open your eyes and your mind to the possibilities that your pictures offer you. A well-designed website or printed piece is filled with professional looking, well composed pictures that do your work for you! Whether in business or your personal life, they are telling your story. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, I say a great picture is worth more!
A blurry picture says nothing. Figure out how to focus on whatever camera you are using and make this your number-one priority. I am constantly floored by how many blurry pictures are out there! When shooting with an iPhone, simply tap the screen to choose your focal point. You can also use apps such as “Fast Camera” to increase your pictures per second. This will help you to freeze any action shots, thereby preventing blur. When shooting with a “real camera,” learn how to change your focal point so that YOU are determining what is in focus. No amount of Photoshopping can fix a blurry picture. Also, never forget to double-check your shot before you put that camera away. Your photo may look awesome on your camera screen, only to find out later on your computer that it was completely blurry. Use your + buttons to zoom in on your preview mode just to be safe.
Regardless of what type of photography you are doing, planning is necessary. Look at your scene and evaluate. Remove clutter around your subject, minimize distractions. Maximize your available light to make everything look as natural as possible. If you are looking to shoot a headshot, select a location where early morning or late day light can softly fall directly on their face. Avoid backlit situations such as in front of a window, or harsh midday sun. And when taking pictures of people, always make whatever improvements you can before the picture is even taken. Pay attention to wrinkled clothing, out-of-place hair, shadows on their faces, or anything else that will lead the viewer’s attention away from the point of the picture. Many people today hear that Photoshop will fix anything. While in many cases this is true, save yourself the trouble of hiring someone to do it, or doing it yourself by planning ahead. (And don’t even get me started on kids and boogers.)
Good composition is classic, timeless, and can stop you dead in your tracks. Look around the internet at websites that leave an impact, photography that makes you look twice, and images that stay in your mind. They draw you in, leave you wanting more! Remember a few simple rules to help you compose your pictures. Follow the rules by composing your photos according to the rule of thirds so subjects aren’t simply placed in the middle of the frame. You will notice this rule in photography, cinematography, and also web and print design.
Use techniques such as framing your subject to put the emphasis on the parts of the picture you want to highlight, and also lines to draw the viewer in. Most importantly, good composition requires some understanding of vantage points. Great pictures are often taken on the same eye level as the subject. Fill your frame with whatever is most important. If you are taking a picture of just a car, do just that. Focus on emphasizing the car. If you want your picture to tell a story, you will need more context. Show where the car is, and what’s around the car, while still making the car the main attraction. Whatever you choose to include in your picture, do it deliberately, especially with product photography. Too much negative space in your picture will distract the viewer from the main attraction. So leave the wall and ceiling out, they aren’t doing anything to help you!
When shooting people, be aware of their best angles, and flattering poses. Having your subject tilt their chin slightly up and out in conjunction with good posture can give the illusion of dropping 10 pounds. Stand up straight, don’t mush your arms into your sides, relax, smile, laugh even! Do I sound like your mom? She’s right!
Whether you are shooting people, products, or anything else, your photos are acting as a representation of something. Make it real. In my own business, I am trying to do away with the dated concept of a family portrait. You know the one….white shirts, khakis, on the beach all huddled together….fake smiles. It says nothing. It gives me no feelings whatsoever except “phony.” Your pictures are the voice of your company, your product, your website, your family, or even you! Make them speak in your voice. They should match your brand, your mission, and level of professionalism. A well-planned and executed website or printed marketing materials deserve pictures to match.