While sorting through the pictures for yesterday’s post about my new camera I realized that some of the shots could easily be turned into other photography tutorial posts (so many of you have emailed and commented to say how much you love these posts and that they’ve helped you, thanks so much!). Part of the reason I don’t do these posts very often is that I don’t have subjects (aka kids (yet!)) to practice on and I think concepts are best demonstrated when they can be seen. Now that I know what a good model my friend’s daughter is I can use her whenever a post topic comes to mind.
For this post I chose a few shots that will hopefully help you start thinking outside of the box when it comes to framing your photos. Normally I would have discarded some of these due to bad focusing, but I kept them because they illustrated the principles I had in mind. It’s all in the eyes people! If the eyes aren’t sharp, the photo needs to go (unless you’re writing a post for your blog and don’t have any other photos that illustrate your point, then you can keep them.)
First thing you need to do? Stop centering your subjects right in the middle of the frame in every single shot! Learning about the rule of thirds can help, but I admit I don’t frame each photo in camera thinking “How can I set up this photo so I’m following the rule of thirds?” Most of the time I just try to shoot what feels natural, and with digital photography I have the freedom to take as many shots as I want without incurring any extra costs like I would with film. Don’t be afraid to experiment, or worry about other peoples opinions when they say “Gee, you take a lot of pictures don’t you?” All those snide commenters will shut their traps when they see the amazing photos you get after you practice, practice, practice!
An example of a photo I consider to be centered. I admit, I had to work really hard to remember to center her in one of my photos. It’s just not something that felt natural in this situation.
And here she is placed just to the right of where she was before. Much better, don’t you think? (I think the tighter crop and sweet expression on her face help a bit as well!)
Step #1, don’t place your subjects in the center of the frame every time you snap a photo. Shifting them just barely to the right or left can make a huge difference!
Another really common mistake I see is from poor framing when it comes to distance and how much is included in the frame. She’s in such a cute post, but she’s lost in a sea of bricks and reeds, and my eye keeps going tothe top left corner where I think I can see someone’s front door. Yes, I could crop it later using software on my computer but why not…
take a few steps forward to capture this? I like to shoot with something called a “prime lens”, meaning there is no zoom. AT ALL. Out of all the things that trip people up when I hand my camera over and ask them to take a picture of me, the lack of zoom is the most confusing part. Prime lenses are a big part of my personal photographic style, and eventually I hope to shoot with them exclusively, so I’m used to moving around when I’m shooting. Also, I hardly ever crop using computer software, as I like to rely on my judgement in the moment to capture a scene. All of the photos in this post (actually all the photos from this shoot that I will post on the blog) weren’t even touched with the crop tool, only adjustments to exposure, contrast, etc, were made.
Step #2, move your feet! You’ll get better photos in camera, and you’ll get a little more exercise at the same time.
Step #3, don’t be afraid to get a little crazy with the way your frame your photos!
Maybe you want to have lots of negative space around your subject, like in the photo below. I think that the way this photo is framed, combined with her slouching forward a bit, makes her look extra inquisitive. If only it were in focus.
Another negative space example. I usually would toss this one, as I don’t think it’s anything special, but I like the concept and I think I’ll be working on incorporating more negative space into my other photos. See how I’m not afraid to make mistakes and experiment? Try something new, you can do it!
Sometimes I like to get really crazy, just to see what happens. Her head is cut off (you’ll notice that pro photogs cut heads off all the time, it’s not the bad thing most people think it is), as is one of her feet, and no specific part of the photo is really in focus, but I kind of like it anyway. Mom will never frame it, I won’t be using it as an example in my portfolio, but I think I’d like to try something like this again in the future.
These are just a few examples. there are a million other ways to be discovered! See how we are all still learning? You. Me. All of us.
If you try this out for yourself, do leave a link to your in the comments section. I’d love to see how it worked out for you! (And maybe I’m secretly hoping you’ll come up with an awesome idea I can use myself some time. )