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Photography tutorials

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Five Ways to Make Your Photographs More Interesting (without buying a single thing)

XKCD Comic
XKCD Comic

My dad sent me this the other day from xkcd:

And as funny (and true!) as this is, it got me thinking: with all these photographs everyone's taking and sharing all the time, it's a shame that so many of them are so...

(um... how to put this?)

...blah.

Yep... sorry. I'm as addicted to Instagram as the next guy, but it must be said that there a lot of yawn-inducing photographs out there clogging the feed. A vintage filter can only go so far toward transforming the latest photo of your cat into a work of art. So as my little mitzvah for the day, I thought I'd pass on a few ideas about how you can instantly jazz up your photos, iPhone or otherwise... and not one of them is going to cost you a dime.

Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements

1. First of all, when you're getting ready to snap that next photo of your dinner/baby/chia pet/whatever, consider changing your point of view. We all visually experience the world every day somewhere from around 5 to 7 feet off the ground, so photographs taken from that level look familiar... and totally unremarkable. Consider catching your crawling baby at eye level or climb on top of the nearest table to get your kids' game of twister from a bird's eye view. If you've ever seen me shoot a wedding or portrait session, you know I spend a fair amount of time doing both of these things... and that's because it works: unexpected angles are a sure way to breathe life into a tired portrait.2. When you have a subject or a setting that is particularly small or large, consider adding perspective by showing relative size. That sweet, tiny puppy you just got? Show just how small he is by putting him in his food bowl or between your husband's size 12 Chuck Taylors. Did you find a huge shell at the beach? Surround it with all the little shells you found. In photographs, huge skies/buildings/trees lose the impact they have in real life without something that gives them context. Contrast grabs our attention and renders further explanation unnecessary.

Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements

3. Pay attention to what is going on in the foreground and/or background of your image: if it contributes to the story you're telling or frames your subject in an interesting way, include it; if it doesn't, move it out of the way or change your perspective. What surrounds the subject of a photograph can be as important as the subject itself, and can be used to change the meaning and mood of a photograph dramatically.

Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements

4. Remember the old Sesame Street skit where Grover runs up to the camera ("NEAR!?!?") and then away ("FAR!!!")? Do that. Get right up on your subject and fill the frame or get far, far away and set the scene. Start to think of that comfortable distance of 5-10 feet from your subject as the photo dead zone... and avoid spending too much time there. Your photos will thank you!

Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements
Easy Photo Improvements

5. Finally, remember that not every photo needs to show the whole subject. Details are often a more compelling way to draw the viewer in... like a preview for a movie or an appetizer before a meal.

Alright, alright... enough homework for now! Just remember that although the photos I've used in this post were snagged from former client sessions, the same rules apply to the everyday snapshots you grab with your iPhone as well! Spend two weeks consciously looking for these opportunities every time you pick up your camera, and before you know it, they'll be second nature.

Annnnnnddd... if you found this tutorial helpful, check out my Cameras & Cocktails classes! They're like this, but with more content, and are made even better with friends and beverages :)

xox,

annemie

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How to Use Window Light to Create a Quick, Beautiful Portrait | Tutorial

Just a quick post today... it's been a busy week! I got the idea for this post this morning when I stumbled upon this photo I took of my adorable gorgeous cousin Alice earlier this spring (seems like yesterday she was a little kid running around, but now that she's in graduate school, I guess she's officially beyond the adorable phase). Window Light Portrait Tutorial I wanted to capture those killer eyes, but we were just hanging out in the kitchen, so I grabbed my camera and pulled her toward the window. For those who want the specs, this was taken with my 105mm lens, ISO 800, f/3, Shutter Speed 1/60. It was 3:30 in the afternoon, and she's standing about 6-7 feet away from a SE-facing window.

A lot of times my clients shy away from shooting indoors ("but my house is so messy/dark/small!"), and though I may not be able to create a super-wide variety of shots inside a tiny home, the fact of the matter is that perfectly average window light is some of my very favorite portrait lighting... and I have yet to find a client who doesn't have windows.

Here are the rules to keep in mind when shooting in window light:

  • Look for windows that are NOT in direct light - the point is not to have sun on your subject's face, but rather to have a large, soft light source.
  • Position them so that the reflection of the window is toward the top of their iris and any shadows fall below or to the side of their nose - if the window is low, consider having them sit on a chair or the floor.
  • Play with turning them directly toward the window, eliminating shadows from their face altogether, and turning them 45-90 degrees away, giving nice shadows on the side of the face and drama in the eyes.
  • Remember that window light falls off exponentially, so depending on the look you're going for, move them toward or away from the window to achieve harder and softer lighting (note the super-soft light in the above photo - if she'd been right beside the window, this photo would've had a very different look).
  • Get in close and focus directly on the iris nearest to you, using as wide an aperture as possible (low f/stop number) to create soft, blurry backgrounds.

Boom! With practice, you can shoot a portrait like this one in seconds... which is exactly what we did here. Oh, and it helps if your subject is super gorgeous and can smize with the best of themĀ  :D

Have a great weekend!

xox,

annemie

P.S. I haven't forgotten about recipes... it's just been too dang hot to cook! Next week... promise!

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