Did you click on this post because you’re tired of taking out-of-focus, bland, and poorly-lit images?
Well, you’re in the right place! Over the past 10 years being a photographer, I’ve learned the rights and wrongs of photography. As a self-taught photographer, I’ve walked through a lot of trial and error and developing this craft. I hope this article helps you!
Tip One: Light makes or breaks an image
Beautiful models and full-frame cameras make it easier to capture an amazing image, for sure, but truly light is what makes an image go from good to great. There are two types of light: back light and front light.
Back Light (top): When the light source is behind the subject. Unless you’re intentionally capturing harsh sunlight, placing your subject with their back toward the light will create a glow around them. Don’t put the subject directly behind the light, though; you’ll want to avoid sun flare and washed-out images. So, place the light source about 45 degrees behind them to the left or the right.
Front Light (bottom): When the light source is in front of the subject. To know where the sun is (if it’s cloudy), download Sunrise Sunset or SunCalc.net to find the direction of the sun. Or, even simpler, walk 360 degrees around your subject and see how the light hits their face.
Aim for even lighting from head to toe, and avoid shadowy and spotty areas behind your subject. This will guarantee a distraction-free, beautiful image!
Tip Two: Pose People To Flatter Them
Envision this: You’re dressed in your best outfit, flashing your best smile and the view behind you is amazing. “Click” goes the shutter, and you look at your friend’s LCD screen in horror. What went wrong? The view, the outfit and the smile were all on point. But the pose wasn’t flattering at all! They decided to face you directly at the camera, arms limp by your side and shoulders hunched up….and they were very proud of that shot (looks like you may need to have a friendship DTR…)
To pose people in flattering positions, here are a few suggestions:
Photograph from slightly higher up. This will flatter faces and produce a slimming effect.
Ask which side is your subject’s favourite, and ask them to angle that way. This will make them feel confident, flatter their favourite side and give the shot a bit more intrigue, rather than simply facing them straight on.
Pose their hands comfortably. Hands on hips, folded arms, holding one arm, playing with hair…these are all options!
Let them settle into a pose for a few seconds. When taking pictures, people often tense up and flash their cheesiest smile. Suggest that your subject can relax his/her shoulders and take a deep breath.
Tip Three: Aperture
Looking for soft, creamy, blurred backgrounds in your images? That’s where aperture comes in. Aperture (or “f-stop”) is an essential component of lighting that determines how much is in focus and how much light is let in. Switch to manual mode, change your aperture to the lowest your lens will go, then transition to 7.0 and see how it affects your focus plane!
The smaller the number (some lenses go down to 1.2 or lower), the bigger the lens opening and the more light that is let in. Likewise, the smaller the number, the shallower the “depth of field,” which means that your focus plane is going to be more pointed. When you shoot at a lower aperture (I settle on 1.8 pretty often, even with lenses that go lower), the unfocused parts are exactly that….out of focus. That look can create a really nice, soft feel to your images.
Tip Four: Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is an age-old design concept. Draw a grid with nine squares on a rectangular frame, and straddle your subject between two lines on either side. It draws the eye somewhere, and creates more intrigue and perspective. Although there are times for centered images (like group pictures), try putting your subject one one side or the other of the frame.
I hope this article is helpful! Are you interested in learning more? Email me at hello@eleanorstenner and we can chat!