Good Photos vs Bad Photos
Have you ever looked at photos online and instinctively gone, "Wow! That's a beautiful photo!" Or (hopefully not but) said, "Oh yikes, this is terrible"?
Maybe you know a good photo when you see it but can't pinpoint what makes it good or great.
Also, you know when you don't like a photo.
I'm here to share a few tips with you to help you make your photos better! Whether a professional photographer or just taking selfies for Instagram, here are some tips that will make your photos 10x better immediately!
1) Take Everything Out Of Your Pockets
Leaving things in your pockets is suck a rookie mistake! It's bulky and very distracting to your audience. Phones, keys, chapstick, vapes...take it all out! This is something I see in a lot of photos and it's just such a huge distraction. Also, even more recently, I've seen masks/mask strings hanging out of pockets. It's sooo distracting and really takes away from the moment that you're trying to capture. So before you start your session, remove everything from your pockets!
2) Remove Your Hair Ties!
Now this one...THIIIS ONE! It's also another huge distractor. Lots of people keep that hair tie for when they need to pull their hair back. But remember to take it off during photos! It's another huge distractor when left in photos! So along with removing everything from your pockets, remove everything from your wrists and necklace that isn't jewelry/part of your chosen outfit.
3) Incorporate Movement Into Your Poses
Still poses can feel boring and stiff. This is usually what people think about when they hear "let's go take pictures." Now don't get me wrong, there's a time and place for still poses and the more classic style of posing, but I prefer movement and flow because it makes the photo more dynamic. So next time you're taking photos, try moving during them and see how they turn out.
4) You Don't Always Have To Look At The Camera
There's this belief (for some reason) that whenever you take a photo, you have to be looking at the camera and smiling. But like...that's the most unnatural thing we can do. Those smiles are not always natural (they may be genuine but a true smile/laugh is different than the "look at the camera and smile" smiles) and it can get super awkward super quickly. So mix it up! Try looking off into the distance, closing your eyes, looking at your partner, or even looking at your hands. Try looking anywhere other than the camera and other than straight up (trust me, that angle of your neck isn't cute). Change the direction that your eyes are pointed and see how you like it.
5) Smile vs Serious
This kind of goes along with what I mentioned above. You also don't always have to smile in photos. There are many other looks/emotions you can convey in your images! You can be serious, pensive, scared, sensual...shoot you can even throw a Blue Steel in there. You just don't always have to be smiling. Try different looks and see which ones you like! You might be surprised.
6) Avoid Gaps Between People
Ok this one is honestly debatable and completely up to your style of shooting but hear me out... My rule of thumb is to avoid gaps between people unless artistically done. This in particular applies to standing photos. In the photo on the left, you can see how there is no gaps between their bodies because I posed them in a ways where they are holding each other. If there was a gap between each person's legs, it would create a bit of awkwardness and look as if they didn't want to be close to each other. Imagine their abdomens being close with their legs being separate...it looks weird! I always have my clients get ridiculously close together during sessions and tell them, "I know it feels like you're on top of each other but trust me, it'll look great in the photos." Like I said, this one is debatable! But next time you're taking photos, check the gaps between your subjects. If it's the look you're going for, great! If not, make the adjustments so your photo can go from "Aw that's cute" to "DAMN we look GOOD!"
7) Only Pose The Way Your Body Can Pose
I always give direction when posing my clients and I also always ask them to give me feedback about the poses. I base all of my poses off of the way each of my client's bodies move and generally exist. So I avoid posing clients in a way that makes them uncomfortable. So for sitting like this, a lot of people don't have the hip flexibility or their pants don't have the stretch to sit in comfortable ways, so we work with what we can do! Be open/realistic about what's comfortable and what your body can do. Otherwise, you're going to look awkward af.
8) Bring Subtle Props
Ok, admittedly this one is completely based on personal preference. I personally don't like the majority of props and am very open with my clients about that. BUT! There are some props that are super cute and, here's the most important part, true to the client. Only use subtle props that are genuine to who you (or your clients) are. Otherwise, these typically end up looking cheesy in my opinion. But if that's what you're going for, then follow your heart. So for Engagement Sessions, I always bring a bottle of champagne so we can do the "poppin bottles" photos! (Non-Alcoholic substitutes available upon preference 😉)
9) Change Up Your Outfit
Variety is the spice of life, right? So make your photo shoots spicy! Whether you're completely changing outfits or just changing up the way you're wearing what you're wearing (e.g. taking your sweatshirt off and tying it around your waist), variety makes a huge difference. I always encourage my couples to bring 1-3 outfits for their session: casual, semi-formal, and formal. Having options during your session gives you diversity in your images and peace of mind. Peace of mind? What? Ok so you know how sometimes you choose an outfit and it looks great and you're feelin' yourself but then day-of it just doesn't seem to feel "right"? Well this is why having options is so helpful! It alleviates some stress by giving you options of things to change into so you can feel your best self during your session. You can do this with larger groups but you'll have to take into consideration the time it takes for everyone to change. But when it comes to couples, I'm always telling them to bring multiple outfit options! Again, we love the spice.
10) Have Fun
This might be the most important one. If you're anything like me, your face tells the whole story. I'm terrible at hiding my emotions and my facial expressions are a bit too...expressive. So if you're not having fun, it's going to be blatantly obvious in your images and let's be real, you're not going to love those photos.
Dave + Basia Engagement Session
Here's Dave + Basia's Engagement Session in Big Sur, California. One of my favorite places for proposals and engagement sessions! Ok, who am I kidding? It's one of my favorite locations for any session. It's just so magical with its dramatic rocky coastline and diversity of coastal, mountain, and beach views.