I cannot stress this enough. Focus every single picture. If your subject’s eyes are not in focus, you have lost. Always put your focus point on your subject’s face (or whatever you want to be in focus) and work on producing tack sharp images. It will make your photos stand out from the amateur’s photos. I’m all for making your background blurry and utilizing your depth of field, but if your subject isn’t sharp, your picture will not be nearly as impressive. Something will always look off if the eyes of the subject aren’t sharp. Confession. Improperly focused pictures are my biggest pet peeve as a photographer.
See how the picture on the left is not as sharp as the one on the right? You may need to click on it to see it closer. Even though his face is so super cute and he’s looking right at the camera, the picture is unacceptable to me because it’s not in focus. The photo on the right is properly focused and sharp, and looks much more professional.
First, google the rule of thirds, and practice it until it’s second nature. Place your subjects in pleasant lighting and make their pose as non-awkward as possible. ;) Create a depth of field. Focus your subjects. Avoid distracting things in the background. Don’t worry about snapping super fast. Slow down, and make it something pretty. ;)
I took about seven photos before this one to make sure I got the photo I really wanted…and this is one of my favorite shots eveeeer. The beauty of digital is that you can take several until you see exactly what you want. (I had the pleasure of shooting Wes & Molly’s engagements this week BTW – you can see the rest of their precious-ness here! They’re beyond adorable.)
3. LEARN PHOTOSHOP.
If you are going to charge money (or if you want your photos to look professional), you will likely need (and really want) Photoshop or Lightroom at some point. I’m a big believer in getting things right in camera, but Photoshop is still a necessity. For standard color corrections and contrast, it is brilliant. And if you ever have a subject with blemishes (and you will), it will be such a relief to get rid of that one little zit that’s distracting you and everyone else from the beauty of your subject. ;) Learn to use Photoshop, and take your time. Google and watch tutorials – there are a billion of great ones out there.
See? A necessity.
4. LEARN YOUR LIGHTING.
This is of tremendous importance, and I apologize I don’t have a photo example to go along with it. Do not shoot at noon and expect to get beautiful outside pictures. The sun can be your friend, but most of the day it’s your enemy. Lol. The best time of day to shoot is in the evening, an hour to two before the sun sets. Shooting within a few hours after sunrise is good too, but early evening is my favorite. ;) You can get away with shooting four hours or so before sunset, but it won’t be as pretty and golden. The sun will create severe shadows if you shoot in the middle of the day, and it will look amateur. (PLEASE do not continue to shoot your subject if their face has shadows on it. You will be saving lives, I’m sure of it.) Middle-of-the-day lighting appears too harsh. If you do have to shoot in the middle of the day, find yourself some friendly shade. :) If you are shooting inside, shoot near a window for some natural light. The truth is, outside light is basically a thousand times better than indoor light so embrace the outdoorsman. ;)
5. LEARN YOUR CAMERA.
Google is your best friend, right? Use it. I went to college for a year and a half majoring in photography, and I promise you I learned more experimenting, googling, and reading up on photography than I learned in school. (But stay in school kids…) I read hundreds of blogs, watched dozens of tutorials, and practiced over and over and over again. I also worked with other photographers and soaked up their advice like a sponge. Learn everything you can about ISO, aperture, shutter speed, etc. It will take some time, but it will come in handy. Don’t use the “auto” on your camera unless you’re just beginning. Your pictures will improve when you improve your knowledge of your camera.
Hope that helps one or more of you. :) Happy Friday lovelies. :)