Photography, much like the art it captures, is an art form in and of itself. Passionate photographers will take hundreds, even thousands of photos, painstakingly sifting through them all to find the best angles, the best poses, and the best expressions. They will contort themselves into awkward positions, balance themselves precariously on furniture, and even risk life and limb to get a unique, dynamic shot. However, there is also a bit of trickery involved, and sometimes it takes a second point of view to see how you can make that shot just a little bit better.
Whether you are posing people at a wedding, shooting at a sporting event, or taking photos of a model for a friend’s latest fashion line, it is important that you get
a good shot. If you’re new to the world of photography, or if you’re having trouble getting the perfect shot, we’ve got a few good starting tips to make sure your new hobby gets a proper head start.
Get a Good, Workable Background
Too bright, too dark, too gaudy, too crowded; if your background isn’t right, then it will be hard to turn the photo itself into a masterpiece. Many photographers like to shoot on a white background; if they are editing the background themselvesit makes it easier to cut out each subject in the picture. It also reflects light well, eliminates distractions and creates a good balance if the lighting of the room itself is bad.
Test the Lighting
When you’re looking at getting shots of model in front of a particular background – if you’re shooting on location for example – make sure to test your lighting beforehand so that you know what is needed to get it right. Natural sunlight is not always the best way to illuminate your subjects and it can cast shade in awkward places, so bringing a portable light with you is a good way of working around this. Shooting on location can be great for specific poses and working with the scenery, but a white background makes it much easier to edit afterwards.
Snap a couple of photos to start with, to help your model ‘warm up’ and to see what lighting works best. If you check before you start shooting, you can adjust the light levels on the portable light or adjust the camera then and there, instead of having to fix it post-production.
Use the Lens to Your Advantage when Conducting Action Shots
Do you need to take a photo of one actor holding another? Perhaps the models are not strong enough to hold a pose for a particular length of time? This is where the lens limitations come in handy. Often in more dynamic photography poses, something is happening just off screen that helps to create the picture perfect pose we see in the photo.
For example – the lens shows an intimate photo of a husband cradling his wife in his arms. Outside of the camera, however, the wife may be resting with her feet against a wall for support, or there may be a chair underneath her. This is not shown in the finished shot, but such tricks help make those otherwise unattainable shots look effortless.
Know When to Stop
It is important to know when you can achieve the correct shot naturally and when you need to add a little bit of photo-editing magic. Not every shot is perfect and printed right off the camera nowadays;in fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a professional photographer willing to part with their ‘raw’ images at all! Little edits such as adjusting the saturation, removing a stray strand of hair or blurring the background can really help make a picture ‘pop’. These effects are normally only achieved post-production, so it is important that you know when to stop shooting and when to start editing.
Like any other kind of art form, photography has its tried and tested techniques and its rules. Don’t ‘beautify’ or otherwise edit the client’s features unless specifically asked, don’t get a big fancy camera unless you know how to use it properly, don’t add extra light levels to a photo when it is not needed, the list goes on. As you practise and develop your own style, you may find you have your own list of ‘dos and don’ts’ when conducting your own sessions, but for now, it is important that you familiarise yourself with the basics.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working together with Oxford-based professional, commercial, portrait event and product photographer Keith Barnes Photography