Taking pictures. Whether you’re an Instagram warrior or not (I definitely am), there is always something here or there that can make your shots better – be it more interesting, more varied or just more fun to take.
Some of these tips clash with one another, and that’s exactly the point. Finding what works for you is the ultimate lesson in improving your photographic eye and your personal photographic style.
Have a read through of my go-to adjustments and top tips for improving your photography, then head on over to Instagram and connect with me there (or on Twitter, or even Facebook).
Play With Light
Bright white images are undoubtedly beautiful, but sometimes the light is out of our control (hello winter) and this can end up in our favour if we play it right. Having blinds in my bedroom gives me a multitude of patterns and natural light flecks on the walls and over half of my furniture. These often end up giving me cute and interesting flares, like the few example below.
The perfectly lit shot is only getting harder and harder to recreate with the onset of winter lately, so I’m encouraging you to get creative with shadows, editing and false light sources in your images – kind of makes the whole image more exciting too, right?
but Embrace The Dark Side
No matter how much we can twist and shape light sources we do have, there’s no coming back from the darkness of this season. To me this begs the question, do we always have to alter photographs to mimic a bright(ish) summer’s day? I don’t think so.
Like in the example image, embracing the darkness of the shot adds a whole other layer of dimension and context to your subject. Plus, there’s nothing cosy about unlit candles on a stark white background, is there?
Take A Step Back
Whatever you’re taking a picture of, take one where you’re standing now, then step back and take another. It’s interesting how a little extra perspective or empty space can make the subject pop. This even works with flat lays! Instead of stepping back, jump on a chair (or if you’re in a restaurant just stand up… don’t get yourself thrown out because of me).
Giving your subject a bit of breathing space gives it a better home in the shot and most of all it gives you some less-distorted options…
because Cropping Can Be Your Friend
I know, this might seem counter-productive, but if you’ve got any of the latest smartphones (which most of us have) or a proper camera then you really can afford to zoom, crop and tilt your heart out. Don’t forget that unless you’re shooting for large scale print, digital photos can get away with not so many pixels per inch.
Tilting or cropping a shot can really enhance the overall photograph too. Straightening any wonky lines out (a personal pet peeve of mine) creates a stronger, sharper image and cropping can help centre the subject with the correct perspective – when you’re too close to a subject the lens can distort the perspective of said subject, making the whole straightening lines thing really hard (another pet peeve of mine).
Not just a wardrobe tip, if you’re taking product pictures, as many of us blogger do, adding a layer between the background and the subject can liven up the shot, i.e. make it less boring and run-of-the-mill beauty blogger. Sprinkle some confetti, stand the product on a book, add some dimension! If you’re taking lifestyle shots, adding things like accessories to your #fwis or changing your position so you get a cute bench into that shot of the park can all change the image substantially (I hope this makes sense).
In the example shot, I moved a bouquet of flowers slightly into the frame. although not in sharp focus, they add great colour and dimension to the image. In the same shot, I also added a mug of tea on the shelves, this plays up the different levels on offer, and much like all my other tips – makes it interesting.
but Less Is More
Like with accessorising (apparently, I think I’m a style guru now), you always take the last thing off. In a busy flat lay or faux-messy composition, remove the last thing you added. Even though this might seem counterproductive, there’s a fine line between busy-and-styled and busy-and-messy, one which I often miss.
I’ll also touch on the inclusion of white space here. An overly busy shot can be instantly fixed by adding a portion of empty, or white space into the image. This is a great way for you to get around the overly busy composition (because sometimes you want to include everything) without sacrificing your image’s potential.
Grid It Out
If you don’t have the grid feature turned on whilst you’re snapping away, then you sir, are a fool. The grid helps you instantly apply balance to your shot, and can give you a great guide for utilising some of the previously discussed tips (adding white space, foreground layering).
but Break The Rule Of Thirds
I know, completely contradictory, but it all comes under the category of playing with your compositions. The rule of thirds is a great tool for beginners of photography who are learning how to frame their subject and not cramp it up into a corner. However, rules are made to be broken. If you want to put your subject in the corner then go ahead and do it.
At the end of the day, the rule of thirds is standard, anything that breaks the rules here and it is different, it’s interesting and eye catching. Right up my street.