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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Photography Tips and Tricks: Lesson One!

So often I am asked how someone can take their own boutique pictures for their website or facebook. Or people wonder why their pictures don't look like a professional's when they have a nice dslr camera.  The thing to keep in mind is that there are a lot of great cameras out there but if you don't know how to use it the right way, then that nice dslr camera is no better then your simple little point and shoot camera.  People often think that because they have a dslr camera their pictures will look like a professional photographers.  The fact is is that a professional photographer has spent a great deal of money on their professional grade camera and lenses and has studied and practiced using their camera.  You pay a photographer for their expertise but more importantly you pay for their creativity and their vision.  If you have a good camera, you have a vision, and keep your eye on your subject, you will get the picture you are striving for. You don't have to spend thousands of dollars on a camera that will just confuse and frustrate you.  Keep in mind it is more then just the camera that is making a picture great.  Its the behind the scenes that you often don't see the photographer do.

Generally photographers will take their photos and edit them with programs such as Photoshop, Lightroom, or Apeture.  This is what generally makes a photo stand out and look unique.  A photographer can take a picture that is shot that maybe is not perfectly exposed or the white balance is off and make it look like the perfect picture by bringing it into editing software.

Below are two examples of how you can have a good dslr camera, take a cute picture and have it look one way straight out of the camera and it will look completely different once it is edited.
The owners of Create Kids Couture, Tiffany and Shannon, both have Canon Rebels.  They took the pictures below and I edited the them.  These two women are not professional photographers but would like to be able to take nice pictures of their children in their products.  You will notice that the exposure is a bit off, the white balance isn't quite right, focus isn't crisp, and colors don't stand out. This is normal considering neither Tiffany or Shannon are trained photographers.  They might not even know what white balance is. :-) But they tried and that is what is most important!  You might not even notice what is wrong with the pictures if you were just looking at the original pictures.  But when you could see what the picture could look like you can see a big difference.

Even for photographers, pictures might not always turn out exactly the way they want them too.  So being able to take them into an editing program is always useful.  These editing programs can be expensive for someone to purchase and they can be difficult to use if you haven't used them before. A lot of photographers will offer a service to edit the pictures you take so that you can still have a hand in taking the pictures.  They can even edit a picture for you that is taken with your simple little point and shoot camera.

Many of you probably have children that you would like to model your clothes for you and you want to be able to take a nice picture of them so that you can promote your business.  Although it would be difficult for me to give you a full lesson in photography in one blog post, I can give you some tips that could help you.  Over the next couple of months I will give you little tips on taking these pictures, camera setting, and useful tools.

Most of these tips can be applied no matter what type of camera you have but some will apply to those of you that have a dslr.  I am going to use terminology as if you have no clue what photography is to make it easy for everyone to understand.

One of the most important aspects of taking a good picture is your lighting.  Whether you have a simple point and shoot or a fancy dslr camera, lighting is very important.  Natural light can be your best friend and your worst enemy.  When shooting someone outside you typically want to either do the pictures first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon if possible.  People tend to think if the sun is shining and bright this is the best time for pictures.  THIS IS FALSE!  The bright sun is often my worst enemy.  Not only does it make it difficult for your subject to keep their eyes open and focused on you but it can create lots of sun spots and shadows if you don't know how to work with the sun.  The best time to do pictures is when there is an overcast or when the sun isn't so strong.  If the sun is unavoidable find a shady spot.  If there is one thing that you might want to purchase that doesn't cost a lot of money I would suggest buying a reflector.  A reflector can be used to diffuse light or if you have light on one side and not the other, place a reflector on the opposite side to bounce the light in a different direction.  For those of you that have a speed light for your dslr you can not only use this for your inside shoots but also for those outdoor shoots.  By pointing your flash in different directions you can bounce the light.  For example if you have sun on your left side and a little shade on your right you can angle your speed light to the right to fill the light.  If lighting is questionable, I will also use my speed light as fill.  By pointing your speed light in an upward position you are able to fill any of those shaded or gray areas.  This also gives a great catch light in your subjects eyes.
When you are shooting your subject inside, it is best to shoot in an area with the most lighting.  When I am shooting inside and I don't have my studio lights,  I will position my subject either to the right or the left of a window.  Lets say I position the light source on the right of my subject.  I would then take my speed light and angle it to the left (the opposite from the light source) of my subject.  This bounces the light off of a wall and fills the light in to give an even light source.

Lighting can really make or break a picture.  If you get the lighting and exposure right in the camera you can have a great picture that doesn't require you to have a whole lot of editing.  Your pictures will look great.

Well now that I have probably overwhelmed you all I will leave you here.  Next time I will be talking about camera ISO, Exposure, and Aperture.  And how to use these camera functions and help you when taking your own boutique pictures.

If any of this is confusing or you have questions, please feel free to email me at


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