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The Top 5 Reasons Your Photography Looks Like Sh*t

The Top 5 Reasons Your Photography Looks Like Sh*t

If you've just started taking pictures, or even if you've been doing it awhile, and your pictures just aren't turning out how you want them to, I would almost bet it's because of one of these 5 reasons. The good news is, They can be fixed.  It takes practice and patience, but it can be done. I still have moments where I think "What the heck was going through your mind?!" You just have to shake it off and move forward.   So here are the problem areas and some tricks we've learned to correct them.  



1. Lighting

*Photographing in the middle of the day with the harsh sun beating down on your subject, completely washing them out and leaves you fighting to avoid shadows (yours and theirs)

*Photographing in the shadows with absolutely no light, making your subject look like a vampire, all cold and grey.  Your camera can't register light and it makes it hard to be in focus.  Your pictures are grainy. 

*Using the camera's flash.  It gives your subjects red eyes, a yellowish tone to their skin and looking like they are stuck in 1993. 

 There's a happy medium.  The best time to photograph outdoors is early in the morning when the sun has just popping up (like before 9:30) or as it's making its decent, like 4:30 on.  Have you ever heard of the Golden Hour of Photography? That's it.  That is the ideal lighting.  You have to work fast, because you are literally racing the sun, but your lighting will be phenomenal. Take some time, practice so it feels right.  I like to pose my subject so I am facing the sun, so the lighting just falls around them.  As for the flash, just say no!   



2. Lens

*Standing too close to your subject, giving them a fisheye effect.

* Using too large of a lens, with no tripod, making your images blurry.

* Not checking your lens for fingerprints, causing what blurry splotches on your image. 

My best practice is to stand further away from your subject and then use the zoom function. That allows you to create the best perspective.  The 28mm is great for wide angle pictures, like group pictures or even full lengths of one person, but if you're standing further away.  Anything closer up, use the zoom, like 35-50mm.  Check your lens before each use, and never use liquid or tissue to clean the lens. 



3. Settings

*Thinking one camera setting fits all

* Not checking your camera before each use

When you are starting out, read your camera manual and play with the different settings on the control dial.  Practice, practice, practice, and then when you feel comfortable, try manually setting the camera.  It seems scary, with a lot of random numbers, but once you master it, you can photograph anything.  To be completely honest, I still would rather Chris set the camera up for me, but I know i can do it- I just have to do it.  

Here is a nifty cheat sheet for fun things like F-stops and ISO and shutter speed!

4. Visual Eye

* cropping is off

*background is too distracting/cluttered

* pictures look flat

Framing or cropping your images properly takes your photography to another level.  Whatever you see in the camera will be in the picture, so take your time to crop it right. 

Don't rely on zooming in on the computer- that distorts the image and can cause blurriness.  Be mindful of where you are taking pictures, what's in the background, what's in the pictures. What d you want he focal point of your picture to be? Everything else should be simple.  

Add dimension and shape to your pictures.  Pose your subjects at an angle, play with rule of thirds, extreme close ups, just have fun trying new things!  Photography should be fun!  Make your pictures fun to look at!  


5. Story

*There is no purpose for the picture 

* There is no emotion

* It is boring to look at

Tell me a story.  If I had a dime for every time I heard that, I'd be sitting in a coffeehouse in New York right now.  Everything has a story and as a photographer, YOU are the director or the writer of this story.   The emotion of that moment: happy, sad, angry, hungry- should be apparent in the final product.  Relationships, accomplishments, everything has a story.  Just snapping away at the shutter doesn't tell you anything about the person; in fact you can miss the moments. Get to really know your subject and use that connection.  

Every picture should have a purpose.  I always told the people I trained to pretend they are using a role of film with 12 exposures.  They need to plan out their pictures, and use them to create a story. It could just be a chapter or it could be a complete saga. That part didn't matter.  What mattered was the attention to all the details.  


Every photographer struggles with some or all of these things from time to time.  The important thing is just to keep trying!

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