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Better Photos 101

This is going to be one of those do.as.i.say.not.as.i.do posts. I'm a bit ashamed as a professional photographer to not have the wow photos all the time. Quite often though it's because I'm crafting late at night and there just isn't any natural light to be found. That being said, whenever it is possible, I try to follow these simple rules for taking better photos.

1. Remove the Clutter

You might not all have paint trays on your countertops, but chances are, there is something there (Tell me I'm not the only one whose house doesn't stay spic-n-span!). That "something" is taking away from what you are trying to show off, a craft project, your children, whatever. Just by simply moving your subject to a place less cluttered automatically makes your subject stand out more.

2. Turn off that Flash

Honestly, there isn't a whole lot that your pop-up flash is good for. A flash creates flat lighting and harsh shadows that doesn't make anything look better. If you are indoors move closer to a natural light source, a door, a window, anywhere you get get some sunlight on your subject.

3. Compose your shot well.

Composition can make or break a photo! Photographers learning composition are taught the Rule of Thirds. This is an easy one.

Imagine there is a tic-tac-toe board on your viewfinder. Some are actually built in to cameras these days so you might already have one and not know why. The rules tell you to put your focal point at one of the top 2 intersecting points on the grid like the photo above.

The rules of composition also tell us to have your subject directed into the photograph rather than out of it.

See how in the photo above that the tulips are leaning out of the frame? Now this one leads the viewer into the frame. Much more visually appealing.

4. Manual Settings

If you have the luxury of having an SLR camera, learn how to use it. There is a wealth of knowledge out there on understanding exposure and manual settings. You can get great "background blur", technically known as depth of field or bokah, if you learn how your f/stop, shutter speed and ISO affect each other and your image. If you've never played around with manual settings, try the AV or TV modes first. They are a little easier to get the hang of.

5. Break the Rules

Sometimes the rules just aren't always the best option. Technically you shouldn't center an image for the greatest visual appeal, but I think it works here. It is after all your photograph so don't feel like you can't break the rules sometimes.

I hope you learned something along the way that might help you take a better photograph. If you have any specific questions, leave them in the comments and I'll try my best to answer them there.

Check out the link parties where I'm sharing this tutorial this week.

Mallory  – (March 14, 2011 at 5:30 PM)  

You make me want to get a better camera! :)

Heather  – (March 14, 2011 at 10:31 PM)  

Wow, thanks for the great advice! I really have a hard time finding enough light to take pictures of my paintings. A lot of times I have to just wait until the weekend so I can go outside in the middle of the day. But I hate waiting that long because I'm excited to get my painting up on etsy! :-/

Chynna  – (March 15, 2011 at 8:56 AM)  

Thank you for this post! I am constantly wanting to turn my flash on! Now I know....


Heather - Dollarstorecrafts.com  – (April 15, 2011 at 9:05 PM)  

Great tips! I linked it on our permanent Blogging Resources page at Crafterminds: http://crafterminds.com/blogging-resources/

Traci Michele  – (April 19, 2011 at 11:53 AM)  

Wonderful advice. Thank you so much. I am so happy I found your site.

Traci @ Ordinary Inspirations

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