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hey moms, do you want to improve your photography? (part 2 of 4)

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the mommyhood memos: hey moms, do you want to improve your photography? (part 2 of 4)

Friday, October 8, 2010

hey moms, do you want to improve your photography? (part 2 of 4)

I'm convinced that anyone who wants to learn can dramatically improve their photos. Yesterday I gave four simple tips about lighting and how it effects your photos. Today I want to give you five easy tips about composition.

Today's focus: Composition

1. Consider your background. Think about what you want to communicate through the background you use. Also make sure there aren't things that can cause a distraction. Often we are so focused on how cute our child is that we don’t notice the background. We can easily ruin a great picture by having a plant growing out the back of your child’s head, or an arm growing out of their neck, or a car “sitting” on their shoulder. When taking a photo, have a quick look beyond your subject and make sure nothing is “growing” out of it. Usually it only takes a half step to the side or to bend down a few inches enough to change your angle and solve your problem. Your background should always add to your photo, not distract from your subject.

{for this photo i made sure that the background wasn't cluttered, but
i did purposely leave the couch in the shot... i wanted it to be obvious
that we were at home in our living room. this works because the colors
of the couch blend in nicely and don't draw focus away from the child.}

{the photo on the left is cropped for no background distractions...
whereas the one on the right  is taken purposefully with the tent showing
in order to give context and show that we were camping.}

2. Fill your frame. Especially for portrait photography, an easy tip to take a better photo is to let your child fill up your frame. Instead of having a bunch of “wasted” space around it, crop out that television, dining room table, and playpen and let the child fill the frame. You can either take it this way or edit it later... I tend to try and shoot this way for two reasons: 1) being deliberate helps train me as a better photographer; and 2) it saves on editing time later.

{fill your frame carefully - either when you
take the photo or when you edit it later.}

{fill as much of the frame as possible
to cut out any other distractions.}

3. Try different angles. Experiment with shooting from different angles. I love getting on the floor to photograph my son from his level. One of the ways I will sometimes highlight his big eyes is to stand straight above him with him looking up at me. Get creative and see what you come up with.

{although it's cute, there's nothing special about this photo.}

{a different angle makes it a little more fun/interesting.}

{a different angle and filling the frame makes it even better.}

4. Use the law of thirds. This is commonly—both deliberately and instinctively—used by artists in all mediums to add interest to a piece. Imagine your “canvas” divided into thirds horizontally and vertically. Then try to place your main point of interest (say your child’s head, or if very close up, your child’s eyes) in one of the thirds – the top third, the left third, etc. or close to one of the intersections. 

{imagine lines dividing your frame into thirds vertically and horizontally
and then place your focal point near one of the intersections.}

{after a while you will use the law of thirds
often, without even thinking about it.}

5. Use symmetry. Personally I don't use symmetry in photos all that often because I think it can get boring. But experiment with it - sometimes it will make for an incredible shot, especially if you are not going for detail in a photo but rather the over-all look and feel. There's something really satisfying about nice symmetry used every once and a while.

{using symmetry creates a great focal point if done deliberately. this is one of my faves!}

Other posts in this mini-series:
  • Part 1: Lighting - How to use light to take the best photos possible. 
  • Part 2: Composition - How background, framing, and placement of your subject effects your photos.
  • Part 3: Settings - How adjusting your camera settings can create different effects and feelings in your photos.
  • Part 4: Editing - How using simple editing tools can help your photos go from good to great. (A guest post by Mandy from A Sorta Fairytale.)

      Dear friends, do you have any photography tips related to composition to add? Have you learned something today and taken a great photo because of it? If so, leave us a link in the comments so we can come and check it out! I hope you're inspired to fill up those hard drives! No doubt your kids will thank you later.

      from one happy-snappy mom to another,

      Have you registered your blog here yet?

      adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
      do not reproduce without written permission

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      At October 8, 2010 at 12:05 AM , Blogger Jhen.Stark said...

      Love that you're doing this!!! Just caught up on 1 and 2. What a simple, yet perfect explanation about taking great pictures!

      At October 8, 2010 at 1:01 AM , Blogger Casey Martinez said...

      It's always neat to hear peoples tips on photography and even though I've done this a while it is a good refresher:). I need to work on the rule of thirds more! :)

      At October 8, 2010 at 1:01 AM , Blogger Tia said...

      great tips!! Can't wait to try some of these!

      At October 8, 2010 at 2:58 AM , Blogger Amy Sullivan said...

      Okay, I get the law of thirds! I never really understood what people were talking about when I heard this!

      I like your tips because they seem so easy.

      At October 8, 2010 at 3:10 AM , Blogger cooperl788 said...

      Great tips! I love getting down to their level to shoot. Your tips are really applicable to every photographer.

      At October 8, 2010 at 3:27 AM , Blogger Cameron said...

      I feel like I am so lazy about taking pictures after reading this. I just don't think that much about it. I'm like "oh a cute smile" and I just take a pic. I need to be more deliberate about trying to take pictures that look nice!

      At October 8, 2010 at 5:35 AM , Blogger Anne Prado said...

      Oh my gosh, SUCH an honor to see you at my blog - I remember your wonderful post at Ingenue Mom, how it brought tears to my eyes. You're an AMAZING writer - and it turns out, an awesome photographer too!

      At October 8, 2010 at 7:49 AM , Blogger Wining Mommies said...

      I'm such an awful photographer. Hopefully your tips will help me out a little!

      At October 8, 2010 at 2:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

      I'm so glad you are sharing your photography tips. Using a DSLR can be so overwhelming. I can't wait to try out your tips!

      At October 8, 2010 at 2:16 PM , Blogger Heather said...

      Wow! Amazing, beautiful photos of your handsome little guy! I love the ones at different angles. Every time I try to do that I inadvertently cut off part of my children's face.

      At October 8, 2010 at 4:09 PM , Blogger lunablue said...

      we can't all have such attractive subjects!

      At October 8, 2010 at 5:08 PM , Blogger Crystal said...

      Thanks for another post with awesome tips! I need to get my husband to read this- he is all about the far away centered perfectly shot, and it never comes out well! The background is cluttered and distracting, and I personally like the off center look (the law of thirds), or just the really close up shots- for some reason my husband says it looks like too much if its close up...the weirdo!

      At October 9, 2010 at 12:15 AM , Blogger Mellisa Rock said...

      I love the different angles and its so much easier to see what everyone has been talking about with this law of thirds thanks to your pictures. I am soo getting a camera for myself for Christmas. My Iphone just isn't cutting it anymore. I want to do so much more with my photos!

      At October 9, 2010 at 12:56 AM , Blogger Sommer J said...

      Loving your tips so much! The third photo could easily be used for Baby Gap. And your floors? immaculately clean!! I usually choose the cleanest part of the house if I want to take photos hehe.

      At October 12, 2010 at 10:06 PM , Blogger Laura Elliott said...

      I'm feeling inspired, might just take the auto setting off my camera and experiment. You make it sound simple, gives me confidence that I can learn how to take beautiful photos.


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