Take Better Photos Instantly

Nothing is more frustrating than being a beginner photographer, knowing your photos suck, but not knowing why. I decided to do a little experiment, and put myself into the shoes of a beginner, to figure out a few things you can do to take better photos instantly!

My Process

Starting out I wanted to make sure to get into the mind of a beginner photographer. Then I would then go step by step to figure out how to take better photos. I started by taking what is essentially a snapshot of the subject. I then gauged where I need to go from there

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A Test Shot

Starting To Take Better Photos

Looking at the photo I snapped I could see a few things right off the bat. The first thing I wanted to do was to get a proper exposure. In this case, rather than trying to dial in my settings for the ambient light, I instead added off camera flash to the scene.

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Getting Better Exposure

Lighting The Subject and Background Separately

Once I had a better exposure I didn’t like how flat my image was and needed to add some dimension. To achieve this I decided to light the subject and background separately. This was the best decision for me because I wanted the background as dark as possible anyway.

To achieve this I moved my light source closer to my subject, and feathered it away from the background. I added no extra lights for the background.

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Lighting Separately

Distance Your Subject From The Background

Another great way to add dimension to a photo is to actually physically add space. For me, this was necessary not only for dimension, but to help control the light bleed onto the background. If not for the light however, Adding distance can help with depth of field, just allow for less compressed space at tighter angles.

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Adding Distance between the subject and background.

Play With Light Modifiers

Different light modifiers will give a different look and feel to your image. If in doubt you can use soft light, which will almost always make a pretty image. I was using soft light with my shoot through umbrellas, but decided that I liked direct flash a little better for my taste. Don’t be afraid to play until you get the look that you want.

Getting Better

Post Processing to Take Better Photos

In 99% of cases, an image out of camera is not as good as it could be. Post processing helps with that a lot. It could be as simple as adding a little bit of sharpening and contrast, to something as complicated as a full retouch. My images leaned toward retouch, sharpening (over sharpening) and a black and white adjustment. The edit was much more involved but for our purposes today, all we need to know is that the image would have been better with sharpening and contrast. If you don’t have photoshop or lightroom, the software GIMP has a lot of the same functionality of photoshop.

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A finished image

In Summary To Take Better Photos

Obviously how good a photo is, is subjective. If you like your photos then that is great! Just keep taking photos and you will improve. If you’re looking for cool locations to add visual interest to your shots, I have a blog post that will show you how to find locations.

How to take better photos instantly

  1. Light The Subject and Background Separately

    To achieve this I moved my light source closer to my subject, and feathered it away from the background. because I wanted my background dark,I added no extra lights to it.

  2. Distance Your Subject From The Background

    Move the subject away from the background. This also helps to add dimension in your photos.

  3. Play With Light Modifiers

    Use bounce, diffusion and direct light. Try different things until you find something that is visually interesting to you.

  4. Post Processing

    99% of photos will benefit from some fort of post processing. Even as little as adding sharpening can make an image leagues better. If you don’t have photoshop you can use GIMP as an alternative.

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