As a photographer, it’s incredibly important to know what makes a great picture. Just having a nice camera and fancy tools isn’t enough to really make it in this industry anymore. Knowing what to look for and honing in on those specific things can help you capture truly unique, personal, and in the moment images that will hopefully help to set you apart from your peers. Here’s just a few things that I look for during a session.
I had a little bit of trouble deciding what was the most important aspect of an image. But finally after much thought – I came to the conclusion that composition should be the first thing you consider when taking a picture. Composition can actually make or break an image. There are some images that seem boring and mundane until you recompose them. Sometimes all it takes is looking at your subject from a different angle. Try getting above them…. like WAY above them and shooting down. Or maybe you should get below and shoot upwards. Sometimes changing up where the focus is in your image can make a difference too. Like focusing on a ring in the foreground with the couple out of focus in the background.
This is a trait I personally find important – although not everyone does. I think the best pictures tell the story of the people in it. Now this may be some kind of artistic creation which can be really cool like creating a fairytale image with the people in costumes. But I usually am looking for something more simple. Like a first time dad holding his son for the first time and that look of pure joy and elation on his face. Or the sweet little action of a little girl blowing flower petals out of her hands. Or maybe it’s a picture of a close up of an elderly couple holding hands. Telling the story of the people in an image can add a whole new level to your pictures overall depth and meaning.
We are often taking pictures of faces. Everyone’s face is totally unique and different and so much emotion can be seen just in a person’s face. So many, many, many pictures are of people’s faces. So capturing a picture that shows the pure joy between to friends laughing over an inside joke or the love on a girls face as her man literally sweeps her off her feet can create a much more dynamic image than just a photograph of their faces. Of course, happiness isn’t the only emotion you can convey. Sometimes sorrow, loneliness, thoughtfulness, calm, peace, or relief can create an interesting a different picture too. It’s so rare to see images of people experience genuine emotion, and I find that people tend to crave this kind of imagery more because of it.
I find detail images to be fascinating and often some of my favorite images. We focus on people’s faces so much that sometimes it’s fun to mix things up and throw in some pictures of other little details to remind ourselves of the little things. Like a little baby’s feet held in his mother’s hands. Kids grow up so quickly capturing these fleeting moments when they are so small can be some of the most cherished memories a mother could hope for. They often aren’t thinking about those kinds of images when they have you take pictures, but they almost always fall in love with these baby detail shots. These kinds of images are being more and more appreciated in all forms of photography too including engagement sessions. Couples are loving pictures that don’t include their faces. It adds a whole new twist to traditional photography and people are falling in love with it.
Lighting is the last element and probably one of the most important because you need light just to create a picture or to set a mood. Silhouetted or backlit pictures are really popular these days as they are different from standard portraiture. There’s a variety of different takes on the backlit pictures and there are some pretty exciting and fun examples to look through. There’s also the fun dramatic, single light source lighting. This type of photography is fun for creating super moody dramatic shots. with high contrast. You really need to know what you’re doing and what you are wanting to achieve for this style of lighting to work well with your subject matter.
Well there you have it. You now know the five elements that help in creating stunning imagery. Composition can help you take a standard pose and give it a new twist. Story telling can help you relay more about a person or couple in an image. Emotion is often one of the most important elements to a picture especially when conveying joy or happiness. Detail shots can make for a great reminder of the little things we love in others. And of course, lighting will always make a break a picture since light is what actually enables us to take a picture. I hope you’ve found this at least a little insightful and perhaps have taken some things away from it that you may try in your next photo shoot!
About the Author:
Stephanie lives in Central IL, is married to her best friend, Ryan, and enjoys the company of her rambunctious lab-beagle pup, Kit. She is the owner of Green Tree Media and is passionate about photography. To learn more about Stephanie Gagnon of Green Tree Media, visit her website at: http://www.greentreemediaonline.com.
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