Posts Tagged ‘composition’
Last Saturday the I Heart Snapping team ventured off to London to the first ever CybHer conference. To say we were excited about going would be an understatement, we’d practically been counting down the days. And for those of your who weren’t as lucky as we were and didn’t get to go, we thought we’d share our day with you.
CybHer is a blogging conference for women bloggers of all different genres. There were fashion bloggers, beauty bloggers, parent bloggers, lifestyle bloggers; you name it, they were represented at CybHer. There were a wide variety of different session topics covering everything from photography and design to vlogging and erotic blogging. And of course in the interest of keeping you guys informed on the latest tips and tricks, we made sure we attended the sessions for things that would help us to help you.
The day started with a lot of talk about the latest blogging buzz issue, that of follow and no-follow links for paid posts, links or advertising. I think it’s fair to say that this has had a LOT of exposure over recent weeks and months so we won’t go into the details. If you want to find out more then check out this really clear and simple post on the Tots100 site.
But as discussions moved on there were some interesting examples of different ways of making blogging income. One of the things that I think all bloggers should consider is that you’ll only ever make money (or be paid in kind with items for review) from your blog if you have built up authority on your topic and a loyal group of readers first. We’ll go on to how you might go about achieving this in a minute.
Lots of comparisons were made between blogger and journalists during the day. Yes, both write and may even be writing on similar topics, but bloggers ARE NOT journalists. Bloggers are a personality in their own right, so your personal endorsement of a product or service is more powerful to your readers than if a journalist wrote it. Journalists may have bigger readership but the conversion rate of people reading and then buying is far higher with bloggers than journalists. So remember this if you are dealing with PRs and brands and don’t sell yourself short.
We went to a fabulous session by Jo Gifford about making your blog beautiful. This is a lady who is singing from the I Heart Snapping song sheet and we were really inspired by her talks and presentation.
Basically a good blog needs both substance and style. It’s important to write good content that is honest and of quality, but without style you are missing a crucial step. Things that look good are more appealing to us and are therefore more communicative. So while content is key, making your blog pretty WILL make people stay and read it for longer. People engage more on attractive sites and your writing is therefore more likely to be read, so think about what your blog image says about you and about your content and make sure these are in sync.
Instagram and Pinterest are huge right now and their popularity speaks volumes about how visual we are. We like beautiful imagery and to communicate with it and through it, so joining these networks tells people what sort of person you agree via the things you like, photograph and share. Use them as a way of promoting you and your life and it can be a great way of promoting your blog.
The basic message was that the images and visual appeal of your blog sell it, so use this. One really great tip given was to make sure that images you use in posts are consistent in size. It looks neater and cleaner, which is more pleasing on the eye. I would also add to that to keep them similar in style, if you use retro style filters on he majority of your pictures than suddenly sharing a very bright, modern image will sit uncomfortably. Your images become part of your brand so try to make them in keeping with what you are already doing.
He reiterated the point that natural light is best. Don’t be afraid to move; either yourself or your model so that your “bum is to the sun” and your model has light on their face. He reminded us that you have to consider the background and whether it is too busy and distracting from the subject of your photo. But then you all know that already from this post on composition.
One thing that we haven’t really talked about on I Heart Snapping yet (but we will be) is props and how they can make a picture tell a story or explain more about the portrait you are taking.
Here are the portraits we took of each other. We were pretty pleased with our handiwork.
We had a fabulous day at CybHer12 and can’t wait until next year.
I thought in our little composition master class this week that I’d talk about photographing children. I spend the vast majority of my time photographing my little boy and feel like I’ve learnt quite a lot about this in my time as a parent. If you read and take on board a couple of these little tips, then I can pretty much guarantee you will improve your pictures of children.
Children aren’t easy to photograph, and the difficulties of the task change as they change. But get it right and photographing children is not only easy but really fun, and gives you very cute results. What parent doesn’t want adorable photographs of their offspring? But this doesn’t mean that you need to pay someone to do it for you. You can get great pictures all by yourself.
I don’t profess to be a pro by any stretch of the imagination. But I do take an awful lot of pictures of children and these are the things that work for me.
Get Down To Their Level
By taking yourself and your camera down to their eye level, you enter their world and see it as they do. They are far more likely to want to interact with you and your camera if you are at a level where they can see everything that’s going on. Let them see your camera to get them interested, with older children let them take a photo themselves.
Young babies are especially tricky to photograph because they are so still. The temptation is often to photograph them from above as they lie on a mat or blanket, but lying down on that level with them will get you better and more natural shots. There is a place for photos ‘from above’ as they instantly make newborns look tiny and fragile if that’s what you’re after, but they will definitely have more personality in pictures taken on their level.
As they get older there are new challenges to photographing them, but working on their level is always worth doing. If you photograph them at or below their eye level but can distract them into looking up, you’ll get pictures where they look innocent and thoughtful. Smiley pictures where they look right at the camera will look playful. Pictures where they are looking down at a toy or an object will make them look contemplative and focused. So consider these things and thing about what you want to achieve.
Posing and fake emotion doesn’t read very well in pictures, especially pictures of children. So remove “Say cheese” from your vocabulary starting from now. It is far better to get children really engaged in an activity and take natural shots of them enjoying themselves, or to get them to shout and really laugh than to get a photo with a fake ‘camera smile’.
Keep Them Still
While newborns can be hard to photograph because they don’t do much, it can be harder still to photograph children as they get bigger and more mobile. Sometimes you just need them to stay still long enough for your photograph but they won’t play ball.
My biggest tip with toddlers is to make them a captive audience… literally! Find some way of keeping them contained and you’ll stand more chance of getting your shot. You may be able to keep them still by handing them a you or by singing a song and doing a crazy dance, but some of my best shots have happened when my son is quite literally stuck somewhere. Like in the bath. Or in his highchair. Laundry baskets are good too. Or toy boxes. I generally find that the novelty of being put inside something means that they’ll stay still that bit longer giving you a better chance of getting a photo.
I’ve found that with photographing bigger children that asking them to do something helps. Starting up a conversation will often do the trick. Tell them you just need them to stay still and answer some questions for you. Then make the questions as silly as possible so that they will relax and smile. Ask them to tell you jokes, to explain what they did this morning. And if in doubt resort to just asking “But why?” to every answer they give.
Let Them Explore
Children are naturally mobile and inquisitive creatures. If you think about the world from their perspective everything is a new adventure. So while it can be tempting to keep them still for a shot, sometimes ‘if you can’t beat them join them’.
Let them go, let them explore and follow them with your camera in hand. I often find that after taking some more posed shots that I end up liking the natural ones I take afterwards far more.
Catch Them Unawares
It may just be my personal opinion but I often find that the best photos of children are captured when they don’t know it’s happening. When they are inspecting a piece of carpet fluff, giggling with their friends or about to fall asleep. These little moments are what make up their childhoods and are lovely to capture for posterity.
But in order to catch those moments, you need your camera nearby at all times, with a charged battery ready to go. I never, and I mean NEVER, put my DSLR away in its bag when we are at home. It is always on the side in easy grabbing reach so that I can get the shot if something cute happens. This is why camera phones are so fantastic because they aren’t generally very far from your side. (Having said that, I’m a purist and I hardly ever take photographs using my phone. I’d rather use my camera any day because the better quality and resolution will make them easier to adapt later as needed.)
Take Lots of Photographs
If you take your children for a professional photo shoot, it will more than likely take an hour, possibly longer. In that hour a photographer will take literally hundreds of photographs. They might change their angle slightly or adapt their camera settings or even completely reposition everyone, but with each time they press the shutter they stand another chance of getting an awesome photograph. After your session they might show you 35-50 shots that made the cut.
They are the pros and they don’t expect to get a perfect shot in a single frame, neither should you.
In an average day I’ll take about 30-40 photos. Yes, everyday! Yes, I am obsessed. Some days it might be less but on days where I am after something specific it might be a lot more than that. On an average day, 3 or 4 shots might be of a standard that I’d use on my blog. Other days I get lucky and get lots of good ones.
But you’ll never get a good shot if you don’t keep clicking.
Photographers amateur and professional alike will bang on about light. But natural light really is best. You’ll get truer colours and better pictures with natural light than you’ll ever get with artificial light.
The sunlight on a child’s face makes for a beautiful simple photograph, whatever it is they are doing with themselves in the shot. And similarly children photograph beautifully in silhouette with the light behind them as they explore. So play around with where the light is in relation to them to get different effects.
I find photographing children really rewarding and really good fun. It can be hard work at times when they would rather play with your camera strap than play along with what you had planned, but the results can be amazing that it’s always worth the effort. My little boy has been the muse which kick started my love of photography and I can’t wait until the day he can look back and remember his childhood through photographs I took.
So grab your camera and get clicking. Take lots, move lots and let children be themselves in front of the camera.
Remember a couple of weeks ago we started a little series called ‘Taking Better Photographs’? We talked about the basics of composing a shot; move for a different angle, look at the whole picture, fill the frame. Well this week we’re still talking composition, we’re still on the arty bit of photography before going on to the technical stuff in a few weeks. We’re all breaking in to this business really gently.
So for this week we’re going to be talking about a little trick, and a well known technique among anyone who has ever been on any sort of photography course, called the Rule of Thirds. It works on the principle of you lining up your pictures to a sort of grid which makes your photographs more visually appealing. I’m not personally a fan of the word “rule” because I think there are so many pictures out there which completely ignore this rule and are still appealing and dynamic, but it is a fun technique to play around with; both when you’re taking your photo and when editing it.
The basics are that you envisage your picture as being on a grid. The grid breaks up your picture into three sections both horizontally and vertically. You can then use this grid in a few different ways. I’ve used some examples below of photographs I have taken using the Rule of Thirds and pin pointed how it can help you to take effective and attractive shots.
You can place items of interest at the intersections of the lines. These spots are apparently where your eyes are drawn first when you look at a photograph, so it makes sense to consider that as you take or edit your photos.
The other thing you can do is line up any horizontal or vertical lines in your picture with the lines on the grid. This works particularly effectively with landscape photographs of scenery or if you are photographing people in front of some sort of landmark or view.
You can of course play around with this grid and use it to get some arty and interesting shots of your own. For example you might place the focus of your photo in just one third of the image. Like I said at the beginning; learn the rule, play with it and see what happens. Then feel free to break it.
One of the easiest ways to start getting your brain ‘switched on’ to this way of taking photographs is to edit some old ones. You can make an old photo obey the Rule of Thirds simply by identifying the focus and then cropping the photograph. Once you get use to seeing potential pictures in this way, they you can almost see the grid as you look through your viewfinder and will line things up accordingly.
With the ‘Taking Better Photographs’ series we’re hoping to give you a tip or two on how you can improve your photography. And we’ll be learning and experimenting right along with you. We’ll hopefully giving you some simple pointers to have a go at with your own camera. Giving you some skills and rules to work with and then hopefully inspiring you to learn more and break those rules to find other great ways of taking photos.
I think of photography as having two elements really; the arty bit and the technical bit. Or maybe that should be the creative bit and the equipment bit. However you want to look at it I guess the proper terminology for it would be the composition and the execution. We will go on to the ‘techy’ bit in coming weeks, but we’re starting this week with the very beginners basics of photo taking. The arty bit.
Most professionals will argue that you can’t teach the creative side of photography, it’s about how you ‘see’ the picture and about spotting those opportunities to get a great snap. That’s probably true, a lot of great photography is about your eye for it, but there are some little tips that can help you to take some really good photos.
So today we’re starting the series with some little photo tips that you can use with whatever camera you have; be that a point-and-shoot compact, an slr or a camera phone.
When you see something that you want to photograph think about what needs to move. If you are photographing still-life objects you might want to rearrange them or move them towards a better light source. If its people you’re photographing then it’s trickier, but arranging a group of people so that their faces are close together at a similar level can make for a better shot. But by far the easiest, and often most effective thing to move is yourself. In fact sometimes even if you have a good shot its worth moving as you can often stumble across a better angles and an awesome photograph.
Obviously it goes without saying that you need to look at what you’re taking a picture of. But look beyond it. Check the background isn’t so busy that it will detract from your actual shot. And remember that the world is in 3D but your photo will be 2D, so that three in the far distance in real life will be growing out of someone’s head on paper if you aren’t careful.
A quick fire way to get a good shot is to fill the frame. Empty space round the edges can often distract from a central point, so try to get whatever you are photographing to fill your view finder. Of course you can always crop empty space of later in editing but this does reduce your photo size and quality depending on how much you have to crop.
So there you go: move, look, frame. Not too tricky and should have you snapping better pics in no time.