Bits of Sweetness: All the photography tips you guys wanted to know!

All the photography tips you guys wanted to know!

Not long ago, a friend of mine asked if I might share some photography tips with her. I was more than happy to oblige! I also wanted to make a blog post from them, but thought some pictures would also be helpful to go with it. Be forewarned I love to write, and wanted to cover a lot of bases, so this post will seem long! But, don't feel too overwhelmed. Read through it, and then go back and pick a different thing to work on(each week or so). That was something my photography teacher also told me when I took my photography class. You can't work on everything all at once, after all! Just take one idea and work on that skill until you feel comfortable with it. And so, without further ado-
~~ Photography tips to improve photo-taking~~

*Use fully charged batteries

I know it sounds like a funny thing to start out a photography tip post about, but it is key to being able to get good pictures. Batteries are what give your camera life. Fully charged batteries allow you to get the most out of your camera and in turn get better pictures. Your camera will also take pictures faster on full charged batteries. If you want to take good pictures, either charge your battery to full power or put in new AAs.

*Take your pictures outside

The best light, by far, is natural light. It is almost impossible to duplicate it indoors. If you're in the middle of winter, you can get some good pictures if you use window lighting. If you want even better pictures though, head outside. Time of day and weather is key too. Sunshine (usually)makes for much better pictures than cloudy weather does. Look for soft sunlight. If it is too bright out, it can create a harsh contrast of shadows and really bright spots. Golden sunlight can be found in the early/mid morning hours and later afternoon. It also depends where you live. The sun is less intense in some places and moreso in others. Try testing out pictures in different times of day. The sun can change depending on the time of year too and how far away from the earth it is.
These two pictures were both taken with natural window light. For the first I had a white backdrop (You could use a sheet. Make sure you iron it first though!) All I used for the second was a soft cream blanket draped on the couch and rose petals to add to it. A little creativity goes a long ways!

Window light is fantastic if you are interested in food photography. Pick a well-lit area, a creative surface (think pretty plate, nice or patterned dish towel, or window ledge) and shoot away. {One of my favorite food photography blogs is }

This picture was taken outside. The sunlight hits his face, and fills the space around. It would be pretty impossible to get this inside.

*Rule of thirds

This is one of the first photography concepts I learned. It's a tool to make your pictures visually more interesting. When you take pictures, imagine a grid like this through your viewfinder (or to make it easy think of a tic tac toe board).

The rule of thirds means placing the object at one of the grid intersections, instead of directly in the center. The grid intersections are where the eye naturally tends to gravitate towards. If you want a simple way to remember it all, just try to off center whatever you are photographing either to the right or left. Here is an example of a picture taken using the rule of thirds.

Here's another example with a person and without the grid.

Instead of placing it directly in the middle, I put it at one of the intersections. If you are photographing things that are much bigger, don't worry about the intersections; just place it to the left or right instead of the center. Now, this rule, like all photography rules, can be broken. Sometimes for a closeup of a child I'll have it focused in the center. It's not a hard fast rule; just one that can add a lot of visual interest to pictures.

* Composition
Composition is an important part of photos. If you aren't paying attention to the entire photo you can end up with a very distracting picture, or something funny like a branch sticking out of someone's head. One trick that is very effective is zooming in. It can be very distracting if there is a lot going on in the background. Take this picture for example.

While the picture is mean to be of Andrew, there's a lot going on in the background. The boy running by. The people sitting. The cars and building in the background. It's too distracting. Zoom in to keep it simple and direct the focus on what you're photographing! Here is one zoomed in a lot more.

Zooming in even further can give you an even better picture. Here are a couple favorites.

Basic point: look at the whole picture. You can't always zoom in extremely close. Make sure there aren't any other people in the background. It can help to pick a better background than open space, like a wall.
More on that later.

*Use Angles & Perspective
 Don't always take the picture straight on. Change it up a bit. Whether you are taking pictures of things

or people

changing up the angle and perspective can make a world of difference in how your pictures turn out.

*Capture emotion

Capturing emotion is a passion of mine. It's not always a planned out smile either, especially with kids. Sometimes the best pictures are the gleeful expressions that you're not planning for, but end up capturing. Sometimes serious works too! And, don't feel that you have to get your kids to look at the camera. Capture a smile of them smiling looking at something else.  Here are a couple favorites.

* Give your photos space

This idea is for the pictures where the subject is looking at something or walking somewhere. Give them space to walk or look. If you cut it off too short it looks odd. Here are a few examples

The more space you add the more effective it is.

If you are taking photos of mountains, skyline, etc. this  also applies. Leave space for the sky. If the land is what you want to emphasize with the mountain, leave room for that. Don't zoom in too close here because you want to be able to capture it. If you are trying to get a sunrise/sunset with a mountain, leave more room for the sky with some of the mountain to outline it.
 The best times of day for mountain shots are early morning or early evening.  

*Focus on details
I like to tell a story with my photos and not only take a picture of the entire subject, but to also focus on little details as well- little hands, feet, eyes, holding hands, etc. Here are three that do that in sucession from big picture to details. Sometimes I'll focus on the item my subject is looking at. You can do anything you want. Just add creativity :-)

*Exposure, contrast,saturation & effects

The exposure, contrast, and saturation are three things I adjust on my camera if I want to add a little * pop * to my picture. These are also often the basic things I do to edit photos if they need touched up. Sometimes a photo just looks flat and I want to spruce it up a little. I use a program from Adobe called Lightroom (I love it more than Photoshop!) but if you want something free is a fabulous option. I use it a lot too. You can also edit photos in it and save them right from the site to your photo account on Facebook, Photobucket, or your computer (among others). You can do all kinds of neat stuff like make collages (like the one above), add borders, effects, edits, etc.

~The basic edits I do with before and after~




This one I debated on actually adding saturation because my camera adds a lot on its own. It's great at capturing color, but I thought I'd give you an example anyways. {I must be tired. Note the progression of the added text from long to short in each photo :-) }

You can do all the above on . I dare you to explore and see what's there. Try out some things. There are some neat things like cloning to heal spots that I didn't get into. Or cool effects like cross processing.

*Posing and framing

I love coming up with creative poses. One thing I try to do when taking pictures is look for creative places for the subject to pose and to help frame the picture. I'll look for benches (natural or man made), steps, windows, pillars, etc. Here are some examples

*Find a fun background

You can really make a difference in your pictures doing this. Find a fun wall. Look for buildings where you live or nearby. I look for: colorful buildings, buildings with texture and color (like brick), and older buildings with character (like a barn or old fence). Here are some of my favorites.

I love black and white. I often have clients ask if they will get black and white pictures too (of course!). It's not for every picture but it can certainly make a statement with some of them. (if you turn your photo black and white by adding effects and find it to be a little "flat" try adjusting the contrast. it helps). This is one favorite.

Guess what? we are finally almost to the end! Kudos to you if you've read this long!


Do you wonder how people get pictures with the subject in focus and the background slightly blurred? It's the macro setting on point and shoot cameras. ( the technical term is aperture :-) Contact me if you have a DSLR and would like to learn how to use it ) Look for a little flower symbol on your camera and switch to that. Macro works best when you are shooting close up. You hold your shutter down half way to focus and click! Just like that. Here's an example (but from a camera that has really refined settings for this, so don't be too disappointed if yours are not quite like this. Still try it!)

So a few last words. Photography rules can be broken. They're not hard and fast. Just suggestions that can help your photos. I'm sure you're probably feeling a bit overwhelmed after reading all of this! Don't though! Bookmark this post and go back to it. Pick one thing and work on it. Then move to another. Keep this post for a reference if you'd like. It took me my entire photography class and longer to feel like I kindof had this whole photography thing down, and I am still learning! And, don't forget to have fun with it !! Look for inspiration everywhere too. I follow a few photography blogs to gain ideas. One of them is She just so happens to have a photography tip post from Friday! is a great website too for finding neat photos and photostreams. The professionals upload there!

One last thing. I get my photos from Costco. {I hear many professionals do too}. The prices are fantastic, and I find the quality to be consistently superb. They have all kinds of great photo products too.

That's all folks!

1 comment :

  1. wonderful tips, this was a great post! Seeing the before and after shops helps a lot.


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