I’m no expert to blog and website photography. In fact, my children tease me because I often forget to even keep a camera with me — and therefore, I miss some of the best photo opportunities.
However, I’ve been trying to observe how professional photographers work and to analyze why their photographs always look so much better than mine. Here are five things I’ve noticed:
1. Make sure you have good lighting.
You want to mimic natural light, and if you can, take photographs by a bright window without direct sunlight. Windows are large, which makes the light coming through them soft without being too harsh.
However, if you don’t have a big window close by, then bring in several lamps. Not just one lamp! That can make harsh shadows. Several lamps (such as desktop study lamps that a dorm student might have), placed on different sides of your object, will produce good light.
If you really want to mimic the professionals, get some clamp-on reflectors at a home-improvement store for around $10. Use 150-watt bulbs in your lamps, and if your camera has it, set the “white balance” control to “incandescent” or “tungsten.”
Play with the placement of your lamps and with the shadows on your object until everything starts to look natural.
If at all possible, don’t use the flash on your camera. In fact, experiment taking pictures both with and without the flash, and you’ll see that natural, indirect lighting will make a better picture almost every time.
2. Think about the background.
Most of the time, simple is the best kind of background. Eliminate distracting backgrounds by focusing in on your subject.
If you’re selling an item online, you might want a simple white background. You can use a piece of poster board, or keep a science-project display board handy for photographing your products.
If you’re taking a photo of people, you might want a natural-looking background, such as is commonly found outside. Don’t just pick a blank wall in your house, unless you know how to photoshop out the background later and substitute something more natural looking. Instead, remember to “keep it natural.”
And thinking about lighting once again, sometimes some light coming from behind the subject, like would happen outside if the sun was shining off a woman’s hair, can make your subject really pop.
3. Keep your focus.
One of the most difficult things, I think, is to eliminate “shakiness” so you can get a sharp photo. Photos get blurry very easily because the camera moves ever so slightly as you click the shutter.
An inexpensive tripod is an easy fix. I found a 6-inch tripod at our local dollar tree, and it easily screws into the bottom of my camera, plus it’s small enough to keep in my purse. It also comes in handy for shooting short videos on my camera, without making my audience “sea sick.”
4. Get a good perspective.
When taking a photo, try to see things from different perspectives. For instance, if you’re shooting a child playing on the floor, you might get a better image by getting down on the floor with the child and shooting from that level.
In other words, don’t just stand at your normal height and snap the picture. Think outside the box, and look at your camera as another “eyeball” through which your audience will view the world. Get on the same level as your subject, whether high or low, zooming in or out, taking a different look at things.
5. Practice, practice, practice.
You know, the old days of having to pay to develop film, on photo at a time, are over! Whew!
So take lots of pictures. Move around, try using the flash, then try turning it off. Get the picture from different perspectives, with the light coming from different angles. Get your subjects in candid positions, and also try staging things.
It won’t cost you any more, and if you get some really bad pictures, who will ever know?
Tools I Use:
- We shopped around for an inexpensive camera that also took high-quality pictures. Our pick? The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH25.
- MyEasyPics.com is a one-stop photo hosting service for bloggers and website owners who don’t want to have to host all their own images.
- Need to spruce up your photos? Try an online photo editor.
- And if you just can’t get the perfect photo? Use stock photos! My favorite resources are StockPhotosforFree.com and istockphoto.com.