I thought it would be fun to share a few tips on taking photos with you today!
Disclaimer: These are my own tips for taking photos and are not the final word on anything. There are so many different types of photogs and styles vary across the board. Some photogs may tell you to do the opposite of some of what I am going to share with you here. Keep in mind, these tips are only for people who want their photos to look similar in style to mine.
When I first started getting into photography, I took tons of self portraits for a project I was participating in through flickr called project 365. I didn’t realize it at the time, but taking self portraits is a VERY good way to learn how to take flattering pictures of other people. There are certain angles and expressions that I make that make me look like I have the biggest nose in the world, a double chin, or squinty, non-existent eyes. These are things I DO NOT like to see in pictures of myself, so I found the best angles, most complimenting expressions, and most flattering lighting. I now apply the same ideas when taking photos of other people. This being said, my first tip is:
1. Practice your photography skills by taking Self-Portraits.
You never have to show them to anyone, ever. They’re just for you. You WILL take about 100 photos and get maybe 1 good one, especially when you first start. Taking self portraits will also help you with the next tip:
2. Try not to over-edit.
I think just about every photographer, when they’re first starting out in photoshop, lightroom, gimp, or any other editing program, makes this mistake. I have some really horrendous photos that I thought looked super cool at the time. It’s all part of the learning process! When you spend time editing pictures of yourself, it’s easier to see if you overdid it a little on the editing. Better yet, ask your spouse, sister, or someone who will be honest, what they think of the photo. If they say “Your eyes look really fake.” or “Your face looks kinda funny – not like you.”, “the whole picture looks really yellow”, you know you overdid it on the editing. The best photos look natural and not necessarily perfect.
3. Use natural light as often as possible.
The self portraits above (first two photos) were taken indoors, but facing the window in my office on a cloudy day. Do you see the window light reflected in my eyes in the second photo? I LOVE that look. Usually, the bigger the reflection in the eyes, the better. People always look so beautiful, when you can see that reflection. Try getting that look with an on camera flash – it looks unnatural and not flattering at all. To get the most flattering angle of light, using a window, stand at the window and make your subject face you. Even better, go outside to take your photo, but use a shady area if it’s too sunny. Natural light is also very good for lightening bags under the eyes and softening wrinkles.
4. Know your aperture (f-stop).
Your aperture is how much light the camera is letting in for each photo. A camera that lets in lots of light will have a wider lens. My favorite lenses are my 30mm f1.4 (1.4 is the aperture), and my 85 f1.8 (1.8 is the aperture). You can find the aperture of your lens on the lens itself. Most cameras come with a lens that has an aperture of 3.5-4.5 or somewhere around there. When you have an aperture of 3.5 or 4.5, your camera will take its best pictures outside on a sunny day. Indoor photos will be darker or (with a flash) will lack detail and natural looking light. In the self portraits above, I used my 1.4 lens & even though I was facing the window, it wasn’t very bright outside and the photo was almost too dark. If I hadn’t been able to shoot at such a wide aperture, the photo wouldn’t have turned out very well. Some point and shoot cameras come with a 2.8 aperture, so you don’t necessarily have to have an SLR. In fact, I’d love to get a good point & shoot to just slide in my pocket on days when carrying the SLR around is just not practical.
5. Notice the details.
And why? Because they make your photos more interesting. Because they can convey the style of the person your shooting or the atmosphere of the situation. Detail photos are so simple and so much fun to look at!
Hope you enjoyed my little photo tips!