As I continue to slowly get into the swing of things in the new year, I thought I would introduce you to a very talented friend, Ashley of House of Lovelock. Ashley shoots weddings on the weekends and stays home with her four beautiful children during the week, while her husband works at a local Christian College. I asked Ashely to share some styled post photography tips for those of us that shoot weekly style posts and want to improve them a bit, and she came up with some great advice. And in fact this is great advice for any one just wanting to feel and look better in pictures. I know plenty of fellow mommas who stay behind the lens because they just “hate” taking pictures. Here’s some tips to help you feel better getting in front of the camera too! Thanks for sharing Ashley!
While I don’t write many myself, style posts have to be one of my most favorite things in the world to read. I love getting ideas for hair, make-up, and occasionally I even find something I need. Unfortunately, my “professional” eye seems to get the best of me at times – I tend to knit pick. I often notice that lacking photography gets in the way of well written posts + beautiful outfits. So much so sometimes, that rather than admiring all the great things that are there, I’m just distracted by the bad things. For a while I thought this was just me, but then a couple of non-photographer girls I know mentioned that they felt the same, and then Andrea asked me to write a post on styling people/photography. When it came down to writing this post, I thought the most helpful thing all around would be to focus on “5 Tips To Better Style Posts” from my professional perspective. Of course this helps the most in styled photography, since real life photos don’t have to have as much of a rhyme or reason, but some of these points can be helpful all around! Make no mistake, there is no secret and easy route to being a better photographer. These are just some tips that will get you there more directly + some that will help you make the most of the resources you currently have.
1. Read your camera’s manual. There, I’ve said it all… almost! It may not be a professional-line camera, but you can maximize what you get from it by knowing all of its details. Take the manual out with you when you shoot and work on it, rely on it for awhile until you have it down. It is just about the same education you would get if you took a basic class on photography, and it is specific to your camera. (Really couldn’t be better, right?!)
2. Watch the nose. This is the most common mistake I see in blog photography, especially when it comes to styled posts, and it’s one that really bothers me because it takes so little effort to change it! (If you are perfectly symmetrical and look like a Swedish supermodel, you are free to flaunt your nose how you please without care, but for the rest of the world, we need to note this.)
I felt like I had to use a picture of my self so I can be blunt with this one, but do you see the problem with the above pictures? I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a tiny nose, but the left hand picture makes it look a whole lot bigger than it does on the above right. The important thing to remember is to keep your nose on your face. Meaning, angle your face so that your nose is contained on your face. In the example on the right, my nose doesn’t go outside of the outline of my face making it appear much smaller. A nose, in photographs, can sort of act like a compass for how professional looking your portrait (or styled) photos are. If I read a blog where the nose is always off the face in weird angles like the picture on the left, I would automatically assume the person has zero photograph skills even if a lot of others things about the picture were good. If photos have nicely placed noses, I think the blogger either has an incredible eye to notice such details, or they are more studied in photography. This tip comes in especially helpful in make up shoots when you have lots of close ups.
3. Pretend like you can’t edit & take pictures you like from the start. What if editing wasn’t a possibility? What if you had to shoot something like you couldn’t edit like, gasp, film?!? I really believe that digital is nothing more than a knock off of film. Think of it that way, and try to take the kind of pictures you want. You will save yourself time on editing and you will become a better photographer much quicker. Don’t get me wrong, I love what editing does for photos, but it’s important to use editing as if it’s an accessory to an already fabulous outfit.
4. Eyes & Lips. Even if you don’t wear eyeliner or lipstick/gloss in real life, I believe that is a must, must, must if you want professional looking style photos. While photography can be a thing of beauty, photos are also a very harsh reflection. Things that you wouldn’t notice in real life are so much more pronounced in photos…brace yourself…
Above Left: Dry lips, tired eyes, looking somewhat, if not totally, haggard. Above Right: me 5 minutes later – all I added was lipstick, eyeliner & mascara.
That’s it. 5 minutes of make up just did for this photo what no amount of editing could have done. My eyes are brighter, my teeth are whiter, and while I still feel half dead from a mere 5 hours of sleep, I look much more alive than before!
5. Be critical. Ask for Honest opinions. Don’t be offended. It’s important to give yourself good, healthy, critical opinions of your photographs. Ask a few people you respect and trust to give you their opinion on photos of yourself – listen to them and don’t be offended! Sometimes we’ll think our arms are our problem area in photos, but we are totally missing how awkwardly (and much more noticeably) we place our feet, or head, or slump our shoulders. If you want to have unbiased blunt opinions (and have enough courage to not get upset by whatever people might say) join a group or online board for beginning photographers. It can be hard to have people you don’t know give you pointers on styling, but it is a great way to keep learning and growing as a photographer.