Jan Hudson’s Photography Tips #10

Jan Hudson w BanjoEvery Friday, Prescription Bluegrass posts tips for the do-it-yourself musician and bands who want help getting better looking pictures for press kits and web postings.  Our guest blogger is professional Photographer Jan Hudson.  This week Jan answers more of your questions.

We have a couple more questions to answer and this week's question is from Cara, who asks, "Why aren't my pictures cool looking? They look like snapshots. Is there anything I can do to make them look better and more interesting?"

Well, Cara, it's hard to compare a novice photographers photos to those who have been shooting a Image634994905077249485long time. Believe it or not, there are rules to photography...rules that really do make a huge difference in your work. I'm talking about the rules of composition. Let's go over these rules:

1. The rule of thirds. The rule of thirds says that most photographs look better if you compose them using a tick tack toe type graph splitting your viewfinder into thirds.

You can add a lot interest by placing your subject at any Image634994907624695190point where the lines cross. Try to position your subject on 2 or 3 of the four intersecting lines. See girl with guitar. 

2. HORIZON LINES: Keep your horizon line straight. Unless you are doing ultra modern looking images, keep your horizon line straight. Envision a sailboat out on the water and Image634994913069866636the horizon line is crooked. It would look as if the boat was about to sail right off the photo.

Never put the horizon line in the middle of the picture. Make sure it's on the bottom or the top third of the photo.

If you have a great sky, put the horizon on the bottom third. If your sky is not that great, put the horizon line on the top third of the photo.

Image6349949086946963913. Keep motion going from left to right and give them lots of room to move. We, in this country, read from left to right and it feels much more comfortable to our psyche to see things moving that direction. If you are shooting a person walking, make sure that you give them plenty of room in the photo to get to their destination. It's really uncomfortable to see a person walking into the right side Image634994915410280500of the photograph.

4. Have ONE strong center of interest. If you are shooting a cabin in the hills, make sure that the cabin retains its prominence and have the trees and terrain add to the photo without overpowering the subject. Keep it simple.

5. Move in close. Move close to your subject. This will make a more dynamic photo because the attention is the Image634994916093519579on the subject itself and not all of the clutter in the background.

6. Use leading lines. Use roads, lanes, plants, trees...anything that you can use to lead the viewer into the photo. Usually shot in diagonal lines, this leading in gives your shot depth and interest.

7. Frame your subject. Look around, see what you can use to frame your subject. If you are taking a photo of the mountains, use a tree or tree branch in the foreground to give your photo depth and dimension. If you shoot without framing the subject, the photo looks one dimensional and uninteresting.

Image6349949167149151218. Use depth of field to separate your subject from the background. Using a wide lens opening (like f/2.8 or 4.5) you will cause the background to be soft or blurry, thus separating the subject from a busy background. If your thought is to have the subject and the background equally sharp, use a small lens opening (f/11 or 16) when you take the photo.

9. Use diagonal lines. Diagonal lines are dynamic and lead you into the photograph. The mark of a very successful landscape is the ability to make one feel as if they could walk right into the photo.

10. Fill in your frame. Look at your subject and then use your zoom to move in and out to get the best photo. Don't just pick up the camera and shoot without looking at what you are taking pictures of.

11. Never put your subject in the center of the frame...unless it's a head shot. When you first start taking pictures, you tend to put the subject dead center, which makes your photos static and not very interesting. Try to make yourself put the subject just a tad off center...either side of center is wonderful.

12. Move!!! Take a photo, move, take another, move....the idea here is to get several different angles of the same subject. Don’t stand directly in front of a building...it will look flat and non dimensional...move to the right or left and get the sides of the building and the front, it will then look real.

13. When all else fails, break every rule. Photography is an art. But great photographers know the rules. =)

Next week we'll get back to talking about band photography. I'll give a quick lesson on videographing your band in action.

See you then!


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