Photography: Tips and Tricks

by Cate on August 16, 2011

Now that I’ve officially hung out the shingle on my new photography business, the pressure is on more than ever.  It’s one thing to be at a family function, be the resident photographer and only get one or two good shots, but when people are paying me, it’s a whole different ball game.  I have to produce.  And then some.  This is, of course, a first class problem.

At my niece’s second birthday in June, I was the one charged with capturing the day.  With the flurry of activity and a group of little ones under foot, there aren’t too many moments when you can say, “Wait, can you do that again?  I didn’t get it the first time.”

My first line of defense?  Take a million pictures.  And I’m not kidding.  The total for two events that weekend surpassed 600.  I wanted to do right by my sister and, hey, my niece is only going to turn two once.  The more pictures I have to play with at the end of the day, the better the outcome will be.

After your picture-taking session is over, the work has just begun.  Downloading your pictures.  Fixing lighting.  Red eyes.  Cropping out an errant hydrant, passerby or light pole.  And then sometimes resurrecting a bad picture.

There are two pictures from my niece’s birthday party that are an excellent example of how a few simple changes can yield a completely stunning, and otherwise previously hidden, photo.

My creation
When I looked through the dozen or so photos of Sadie and her birthday cake, I was getting a bit discouraged.  There wasn’t one “that’s it!” shot.  So I did the next best thing.  I took the best one of the lot and started playing with it.  Darkening.  Lightening.  Cropping.  Sepia tones.  Black and white.

The end result is a awesome picture that highlights Sadie, her cake and her big moment.  A true Phoenix from the ashes, that picture came from an original that was completely unworthy of showing a client.

The next picture was an original of Sadie and Sophie looking at the balloons outside.  I got inspired by the vintage nature of Sadie’s dress and started playing around with it.  I cropped Sophie out (sorry, Soph! xoxo), and made the photo black and white and a smidge lighter to blur out the background a bit.  I adore the end result and it tells a story all on its own, while the original would have just been skipped on by.
My creation

*You can see the larger pictures of these examples in my Flickr photostream right here. When I make the collages, it crops them a bit so you can’t see the whole photo.

So a piece of advice? When you download your pictures, whether you’re taking them for fun or finance, don’t automatically discard the ones you think are bad. Play around with them. Crop them.  Make them tighter.  Lighten them.  Switch up the coloring a bit.  These two pictures of Sadie are in the Top 5 of my favorites from that day. Undiscovered gems that might have stayed undiscovered had I not started playing around with them.

Have a picture that you want a bit of help with?  Photo editing is one of the services I now offer from my Etsy shop.  Drop me a line and I can work a bit of magic for you.

Sorry folks, no bonus photo today.  Nursing a terrible migraine, and as soon as I hit publish, I’m done for the night.  Thank goodness my mom brought over dinner for us (and comfort food to boot!) and saved the day.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Casey August 16, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I love your photography and wish you the best in this new venture. I will keep you in mind should I need something!


Joanne August 17, 2011 at 6:20 am

Ooo sorry about the migraine! Hope that sleep knocked it out of you.

I adore that photo of Sadie by the window. Gorgeous.


Ramona August 17, 2011 at 11:35 am

Sorry you feel bad. Glad your Mom was able to help you out.


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