Great photos help tell the story you are capturing on your scrapbook pages. So how do you take great photos? Let me share a few ideas I’ve used over the years.
One of my very favorite photo tips is called “The Rule of Thirds” or the off-center shot. By positioning your subject off center, you introduce an energy that centered images don’t have. Imagine your frame as a grid divided into thirds—three equal horizontal segments and three equal vertical segments resulting in nine squares, just like a tic-tac-toe board. You get four off-center points, the four corners of the center square.
If you use autofocus on your camera, remember to prefocus on your subject in the center of the frame before readjusting your composition and clicking the button.
From a business perspective, taking amazing photos of products you are sharing with customers is also important. Here are some fundamental tips for taking shots of products and projects.
LIGHT IT UP: Without good lighting, your camera can’t capture details and color variations. The trick is getting enough light, but not too much!
Natural light is often the best choice and is as simple as finding a shady spot outside or a table inside next to a window. You’ll want to avoid direct sunlight, however, as this can overexpose or wash out your photo (true whether you’re shooting products or people)! That’s why I shoot items in shady spots or diffuse light from a window with a sheer curtain.
Cynthia, who shoots a lot of product and project shots, shoots indoors to get consistent results and because you can’t always take pictures outside—especially when it’s windy, rainy or really cold. From DIY lightboxes to lighting kits with umbrellas, you can create all kinds of convenient table-top studios indoors. Cynthia’s lighting setup cost about $70. Daylight bulbs are key to accurate colors and soft shadows. So is using at least two light sources—one on each side of the item, to avoid harsh shadows. Finally, indoor light sources should be diffused. Just do a little internet research and you’ll see what I mean!
KEEP IT STEADY: I don’t really have a steady hand. Unfortunately, even a slight movement of hand or body when depressing the camera shutter can blur an image. If I really want a crisp photo, I use a tripod. This is how I avoid “camera shake.” I know people who use remote shutter releases so they never have to touch the camera at all to depress the shutter.
STAY FOCUSED: One of the coolest features on most digital cameras is the two-step focus function. With it, you can select what part of an item you want in focus. Usually, this is done by depressing the shutter button halfway down, and looking for one or more rectangles on the screen or in the viewfinder. Usually, the square shows up right in the center, but if you move the camera to the left or right while holding the shutter halfway down, you can place the focus elsewhere. Just press down all the way when the image is arranged the way you want. This is something to learn about and practice.
GET TO KNOW YOUR CAMERA: Honestly, if you want to take better shots, learn about your camera features like the two-step focus function I mentioned above. Learn about the macro mode for taking clear photos of very small objects. Take advantage of your camera’s exposure values scale and white balance. Understand depth of field to vary how much of an image is in focus. Most of our cameras have more features than we’ll ever use. Most cameras also can take excellent shots while in the automatic mode. But if you’re ready to push forward in your photo-taking abilities and want even better results, start using some of the camera’s functions. Play around.
USE YOUR EYES AND MOVE AROUND: Taking a straight-on shot of a product or person is boring, and not always the most flattering (think about your passport or driver’s license photos). Sometimes it’s what needs to happen, but when I take shots of lovely products and creative projects, I move around and snap images from lots of different angles. I look at the subject/item in my viewfinder and I move around until I find a composition that I like. Then I make sure I’m focused and I snap the picture.
PHOTO FINISH: If you really want to fine-tune your photos, learn to use a photo editing tool. There are built in photo editing apps for most camera phones, great photo editing suites for computers, and even free online editing programs. Find one and learn how to use it. From adding fun filters to sharpening images to adjusting exposure—photo editing can put a lot of polish on an image.
THE MORE THE MERRIER: Did you know you can take as many photos as you want? With digital photography there really is no such thing as waste, so practice, practice, practice! But remember, hand-in-hand with taking lots of photos is being willing to trash lots of photos. Don’t be a junky photo hoarder. Delete everything that’s not worth sharing or printing. Keep the best—throw out the rest!
I hope these tips help you take photos that tell the story you want to remember and showcase the products you want others to be inspired by. Happy shooting!