Maybe you’ve been photographing professionally for a few years, you’ve honed your style, and you feel super confident behind the camera… but you still feel like there is room to elevate your photos. The next big question is, HOW? I’ve been there and that’s why I wrote this post for you.
A big part of our job is to curate each event and location in order to highlight the overall design, style, and feel. People might assume that photographers do this mostly during the editing process, but that’s far from the truth. Elevating images to achieve curation happens in real-time during the shoots or weddings.
Anything “in real-time” sounds scary, but hear me when I say – there is real power in this. You get to control so much that happens when you’re behind your camera and this is the real key to elevating your photos (and your business).
5 Easy Ways to Elevate Your Photos
#1 – Consistent Lighting
I remember years ago, reading in Jose Villa’s book Fine Art Wedding Photography about how he always looks for three types of lighting: Backlighting, Open Shade, and Window Light. This literally blew my mind and, at that juncture of my career, definitely wasn’t the way I was approaching lighting. I was making the most out of whatever lighting was available instead if consciously seeking out specific types of light. Now that I know this, I practice it religiously and it has elevated my photos and my brand in the best way.
Once you know what style of lighting you love, it’s so much easier to find it. By staying consistent with these choices you’re telling viewers that this is YOUR style, YOUR voice, and that YOU makes these decisions with confidence.
#2 – Highlight The Best Of Each Location
Nothing kills a beautiful image more then a tree sticking out of someone’s head. Not kidding.
By paying close attention to what’s in the background, you’re making the effort to curate the in-camera shot and highlighting only the best of each location and, in turn, your subjects.
#3 – Move Distractions Out of The Frame
So you have your big distractions (like the tree sticking out of someone’s head example given above). But what about all the little details that can clutter your frame? Tablescapes at wedding receptions is a great example of this. Make sure to move the salt and pepper shakers, salad dressings and sugar packets out of the way before you get to snapping images. And be a friend to the vendor who put them there and make sure everything gets placed back (neatly) when you’re done.
Don’t be afraid to move any items (big or small) out of the frame so that you can focus on the design, your subjects, and the location. This extra effort really makes ALL the difference.
#4 – Make A Styling Kit
This is especially important for us wedding photographers because we are working at different venues, hotels, and locations. I used to struggle every wedding day trying to find a great backdrop to style an invitation suite on. It wasn’t until I created my own styling kit, that my detail photos on wedding days really started to shine. To be honest, I was super against styling kits for the longest time, mainly because I didn’t want to commit to lugging around a huge bag of stuff. But now – I wouldn’t be caught dead without my styling kit on a wedding day.
Worried that styling kits are out of your price range? Check out this post where I highlight my custom styling kit that cost me less than $80 to create.
#5 – Horizon & Building Lines
I can’t stress how much paying attention to little details makes a huge difference in producing a highly curated product. I urge all photographers to pay special attention to the horizon and building lines to ensure they are straight. Ideally, this is something you’d like to get right in camera, but if you struggle with this while shooting (I know I do) make sure to give yourself a little more space around your subjects so that you can adjust the crop later in the editing process.
Leveling up can feel overwhelming and impossible at times, but by continuing to educate yourself and putting these new skills into practice, you will elevate your photos in a major way.
Have more tips to share? Leave them in the comments below.