5 Easy (and Free!) Tips to Improve Your Photos

I was uploading some pictures the other day and I was all, "Dayum, I'm good."

Okay, not really, but I do think I've grown a lot in the last few years.

So now that I'm all wisdomy and stuff, I thought I would share some gems with you.

You don't have to go buy a fancy new DSLR to make your photos better. There are some easy (AND FREE!) things you can do to make your pictures more appealing.

TIP 1:

Read your camera manual. Boring? Hell yes. But you want to know how your camera works and what all those little buttons can do. There's no better way to do that then to read your manual. And then re-read it.

TIP 2:

TURN OFF YOUR FLASH! AND YES! I AM YELLING! If there's one thing you can do to improve your photos, it's turning off your on-camera flash. Your on-camera flash will make thing ugly. Ug-leh. Behold:


Cute baby, yes? Too bad the flash kills any emotional impact in this. Direct light on your subject's face is the least flattering light. Now, here's another picture taken a few minutes later with no flash at all.

Super dark and underexposed but I think it's already better. And you can always increase your exposure to get some of that detail back. Most free editing software will let you do this. 

MAGIC BANANAS! This is the same picture as above. All I did was increase the exposure in Lightroom.

TIP 3:

Catch lights.  Love them. Own them. Hug them. Take them out for a night on the town.

What is a catch light? It's not something from a Steven King novel. It's the light you get in your subject's eyes. It will give a lot of life to your subject.

Here's a perfectly good picture of Finn with no catch lights.

 Again. It's fine. But his eyes lack life and energy. The window is behind him so we weren't able to achieve that effect. Here's another picture of him WITH the catch lights:


If you want to make sure you're getting catch lights, turn your subject toward a window or light source. Here's a picture of Bridget facing the window.

In fact, if you zoom in, you can see my silhouette and  the house across the street. Cool, huh?

Don't confuse pin lights and catch lights. Pin lights are the tell-tale sign you're using a flash and they're not as flattering. See?

TIP 4:

Composition- When in doubt, fill the frame or follow the rule of thirds. 

Filling the frame = getting all up in somebody's biznass

If you're not familiar with the rule of thirds, it essentially means that images are more pleasing when they're not centered. If you drew a grid over your photo, you'd want your subject a third of the way in.

Centered: (it's fine but kind of a snooze)

Cropped to fit the rule of thirds:

MORE magic bananas!!!!

And if you're feeling CRAZY, try combining the two. You'll see the focus is on Cassidy's face which is in the left third of the photo but she still fills almost the entire frame.

TIP 5:

Have fun! Take your camera out and snap photos of things that interest you. You'll start noticing the world in a whole new way. Trust.


In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.