Instantly upgrade your photo-taking game

Instantly upgrade your photo-taking game

SINCE so much of the web is image-driven, it’s important to know the basics of good photography. This is not an in-depth article about becoming a professional photographer—instead, this is a quick checklist that you should memorize and use each time you take a photo. I’ve employed the help of some lego men to illustrate the different techniques & tips.

1) The importance of Lighting
Lighting is crucial to a good photo. In general, using flash typically makes photos worse, not better. It is best to use natural light when possible. And when it’s not possible? Give up. Just kidding! Try to use available lights/lamps to get better lighting, or you can resort to flash. But really, if the light is that terrible for a photo that you want to use for your business, you should probably ask yourself if you really need this photo now or if it can wait until you have a better opportunity.

photos_badlighting

Neutral, untouched lighting. Not horrible, but not good either.

photos_flash

Flash. A prime example of why you should mostly avoid it.

photos_backlight

Lighting is positioned behind Banana Man. Not very useful in this image, but can be used to create cool effects in other photographs.

photos_sidelight

Light from the side. Note the contrast of the brightly lit side from the shadowed side.

photos_frontlight

Light from directly in front. Note slight shadow on the right side of Banana Man.

photos_neutrallight

Light is shining directly down from above Banana Man. Note the lack of a shadow, but also missing some depth of color like in the front-lit photo.

 

2) Rule of Thirds
By default, most people place the focal point of their photo directly in the middle. It makes sense, you want to capture all the details and surroundings to your subject, right? True. However, visually, this point of view tends to be a little static—ahem, boring—so it’s good to use the Rule of Thirds when composing photos.

photos_centered

Gnomie is dead-center and looking good, but not a very interesting photo overall. But if we scoot him to the left a little…

photos_leftthird

Better! Now his body is in left third of the photo. Because it’s off-center, it now encourages the eye to move in a “triangle”. A technique which is used by artists throughout the ages to entice the eyes.

photos_leftthirdangled

But if we shift the angle a little bit AND place his body in the third quadrant, then we have an even more interesting photo.

3) Look for (good) Contrast
Look for a good range of colors and highlights and shadows in a photo. See how the Blues Brother on the left has “flatter” colors? His face isn’t a very bright yellow, and his saxophone looks kind of dull and not very 3D? Compare him with the Blues Brother on the right, much brighter and dimensional, no? This difference was created by moving my lighting source to a different angle.

img_0014img_0015

 

4) Odd numbers are better
Odd numbers of objects almost always look better. Just keep this simple trick in mind the next time you’re photographing a group of anything.

img_0016

Not bad, but your eye naturally moves in a straight line from Banana Man’s face to the Blues Brother’s face and it’s not terribly interesting.

img_0017

But add in a third face, and now this trio creates a nice triangle of faces that the eye moves around to naturally and fluidly.

 

*These images have not been color corrected or altered.

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