Thursday, August 12, 2010

*Guest Post Thursday* - Photography Tips

Yes - it's time for guest post Thursday again!  Today we are blessed to glean knowledge from my long-time friend Laura.  She is an excellent artist and sweet sweet friend.  Let's see what we can learn.

Hello. I'm Jessica's friend Laura and I make pictures. People ask me for photography tips constantly. I don't mind, but I usually find myself sputtering, trying to cleverly and concisely give them a magical solution so that they can make better pictures.

I'm sorry to report, there is not magical solution-after all, it's taken me YEARS (not to mention an undergrad degree) to get to where I am now (granted I'm a slow learner) and lots of practice (aka mistakes)!

Photography is a way of seeing. And there are skills you can acquire and build upon to train yourself to be better at seeing. I'm happy to share a very few things that I hope will inspire you.

1. Let's start with light. Sometimes I say I'm on a treasure hunt for good/interesting light. This is the number one difference between a good and a so-so photograph. Turn off your flash. Try to shoot outside, or move your project or loved one near a window, brace yourself against something and take a breath as you click the shutter so you don't have camera-shake. Try to position your subject so that light is reflecting in their eyes. Pay attention to the quality of light (harsh at noon, warm and soft and sunset) and see how it changes.

2. Anticipate the moment. If you've already seen it happen, it's probably too late to capture it. With digital photography, you aren't "wasting" anything so just take a picture! And how will you ever improve if you don't experiment a little. On that note, try not to delete as you go. Look for pleasant surprises/happy mistakes. Don't feel pressured to get the perfect kid-is-smiling-and-making-eye-contact-with-you-picture. Not that it's an unimportant image, but I think it takes away from the joy and creativity of the moment for both you and the subject if you are angrily insisting that they smile and be happy. Try to capture them, their little personality, at that moment in time. Personally, I rarely tell someone to smile and look at me when I am taking a picture. But that's just me!

3. Composition. There are several rules of composition that are helpful (Google "Rule of Thirds" for starters) but you could begin by freeing yourself from centering everything in the middle of the frame. Then you might try climbing on a chair or laying on the floor while you take a picture just to get  different angle. Besides practice, the best way to get better is by looking at someone's photograph and disecting how they accomplished it (Ask: Where is the light coming from? Are their patterns in this image? How much of the frame does the person take up? Why do I like or not like this image? How would I recreate it?)

4. Be yourself. Tell your own story, document your family, don't feel like you have to jump on whatever way is trendy to process (like in photoshop) pictures at the moment. Because everyone has a camera and everyone can buy photoshop, but no one has your eye, or is where you are, so embrace that as a core part of your originality and creativity rather than relying on technology or fads.

Thanks for reading and looking today and for Jessica for having me. You'll find lots more of my work to peruse at: and I'm always welcoming new clients!

1 comment:

  1. thanks, Laura, I always want to take great pics, but I am not usually happy with how they look. I know I just need to keep practicing....great inspiration!


Thanks so much for commenting! If you have a question, make sure your email is in your profile or leave it in a comment so I can answer you. Otherwise email me at jessica(at)sewhomegrown(dot)com - Have a lovely day!

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