I often get asked how a certain image ends up looking the way it does. Usually I like to joke and say I have a fancy camera, but we all know the camera does not make the image. Skill and practice make for strong images. My mom writes a monthly article for her organization the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and asked me to share a few tips.
1. Lighting is EVERYTHING: As every woman has her go-to little black dress, lighting much the same. It’s essential. I had a photo professor who used to say “Garbage in, Garbage out!” Meaning: Get a good image to start with and save yourself the trouble later.
Indoors: look for a window. The bigger the better! Window light is natural, soft and beautiful. Watch out for back lighting. This occurs when the main light source, i.e a window is behind the subject.
Fix this by using the flash on your camera. Or, if you know how to use the manual settings on your camera, expose for the subject, not the window.
2. Shade, Not Sun: When shooting outdoors whether it be a people or objects, find the shade first! Many people think they need to be in direct sunlight because its bright. This is not true! Direct sun creates harsh shadows on and causes people to squint or blink. Look for a shady spot under a tree instead.
3. Fill Your Frame. When setting up a shot in camera, look at the edges of your image. Crop in camera first. Remember, save yourself the trouble later. Is anything cut off? Is there an edge of a door in the corner that shouldn’t be? Are you zoomed in close enough? Pre-plan what you want in your shot and use the camera’s view finder to frame your subject before clicking the shutter.
4. Practice Makes Perfect! Not sure your image will come out the way you planned? Take multiple shots. Try some in the shade, sun, flash, no flash re-position in the fame and re-shoot. Never stop practicing. Learn from your mistakes and don’t be afraid to make them.
5. When All Else Fails, Hire A Pro: If you need the bring out the big guns; use studio lighting, a high mega pixel camera or just more professional help, don’t be afraid to ask. Not in your budget? Look for photography students at local art schools or reach out to a photographer looking to build their commercial portfolio, maybe even exchange services. Also, just because they have an expensive camera doesn’t mean they are a professional. It’s always best to look for someone with a degree in photography or someone working towards it. Make sure they have previous client or professor recommendations and a portfolio. Even a student should have these basic requirements.
Misty Minna is a Michigan based commercial and wedding photographer. She has over five years of experience as a professional photographer. Her commercial clients include: Art Van Furniture, Doodle Home, The Marie Howard Showroom and ASID among others. Misty holds two bachelor degrees in Photography and Marketing from Grand Valley State University. She lives in Grand Rapids with her loving boyfriend and mischievous dog Stewie. In her free time she enjoys wine tasting,traveling and reading dorky articles about cameras. She can be contacted through her website: www.mistyminna.com