It’s your favorite neighborhood Ajeet! By popular request, I’m sneaking on here to write a post for some tips about how we take our photos. I’ll try to keep my tips as original as I can since I am sure you guys will have seen other posts with photography phtips.
As we’ve bought gear over the years, we began to understand just exactly why hiring photographers is so expensive if you want quality photos. Forget learning the subtle rules of photography or post production, if you want quality photos yourself then the bills run into the thousands. Let’s start by going over our camera and lenses.
Jumping from our humble little Nikon D3300 to the 5D in order to learn photography was like learning to fly a plane by folding a paper plane and then jumping into a space shuttle. I remember the day we bought our camera and realizing how heavy the 5D was compared to our old paper airplane. I spent about 6-7 hours with my nose buried in the manual learning stuff like the 61 AF points and how to change the Servo priority from focus to shutter speed to using the anti-flicker feature in order to time shots when working in indoor lighting so there’s no interruption in lighting. What would I shoot ‘multiple exposures’ for? What are these 6 different case settings for Autofocus? Did I leave the stove on? What does this weird star button do? What do ANY of these buttons do? Wait, this thing has Wifi?!?
I think it honestly took me around 8 months of constantly using the camera before I actually felt somewhat comfortable with it. Shoutout to Nita for being SO patient all those countless times she was looking all pretty and made up during a shoot and I was disheveled just mumbling to myself and fumbling with the million and change camera settings trying to figure out why our photos were terrible and the sun was going down quickly.
Those were all just the photo settings too, the video settings are a completely different animal. If you guys like this post and want some video tips too, just let us know 🙂
Canon 70-200mm F/2.8 IS II USM (Big Bertha)
If you see ‘IS‘ within a lens’s name, then it’s one of the very best and brightest Canon has to offer. This stands for ‘Image Stabilization’ and that enables me to be in all sorts of uncomfortable and compromising positions that causes the camera to shake but the image will come out crystal clear! The bokeh (background blurriness) is absolutely exemplary with this lens and it is worth absolutely every penny we spent on it. Due to it’s large size and weight, I affectionately named it ‘Big Bertha’. As you can see from our photo, I’ve grown somewhat…fond of this lens. You can guess who decided the composition for this photo.
If you see ‘USM‘ within a lens’s name, then it’s also one of their best and brightest but not as exclusively best and brightest as IS. It stands for Ultrasonic Motor which means the focus is super fast. This lens is definitely an all rounder and is great for street and flat lays or almost anything. It’s even strong with interior photography for home decor so when we start to branch out more, it’s comforting to know we will have the gear that can do the job already. This one is definitely also worth every penny and I’m bummed we did not get this one earlier because sometimes when shooting street photography, Bertha is just too much firepower for the cramped and narrow streets of downtown cities.
Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM (This one is also unnamed)
This prime (set focus length) has been a lifesaver during low light. Prime lenses are able to shoot much better under low light than ranged lenses and are much sharper because they don’t have that extra glass inside that moves like zoom lenses do. It’s also much better to use prime lenses like the 35mm, 50mm, or 85mm for portraits because these lenses are so much sharper and the aperture can be extremely wide open. This lens is also a lot of photographer’s go-to for street photography!
Now let’s get into the photography phtips:
- Outdoor lighting can get tricky sometimes. I find it best to shoot in the shade as much as possible unless we are shooting video where it looks best in direct sunlight. If you have a more entry level or mid range camera, shooting in the shade might be a little more tricky since the light sensors might not work as well if the shaded area you’re shooting in is too dark. Then you might have to brighten up some areas in post production and you may run into noise issues.
- We try to shoot either in the mornings before noon or a few hours before sundown. Sometimes depending on the story we are trying to tell, we might shoot during Golden Hour (the hour before sundown and colors are more saturated). We personally haven’t had a reason to shoot at Blue Hour (the hour after sundown when all shadows are blue and colors less saturated), but it’s on our list to experiment with!
- One important thing to keep in mind when shooting flat lays is the story you are trying to convey to your viewer. If you are trying to talk about one certain item or a finished product, try to have some props spill out of the photo to overfill the frame. This helps the viewer feel like your photo is a small part of a much larger scene and really help brings them in.
- Another important tip is to always leave inside lights off if you’re relying on natural light. This will create conflicting colors in your photo if you are using artificial light like lamps or ceiling lights along with natural sunlight.
- It’s always a good idea to build yourself a prop box for flat lays. You can add things like magazines, flowers, magnifying glasses, sunglasses, watches, succulents, or anything that might give your photo a little extra pop or depth.
- I’m sure you’ve heard of the Rule of Thirds somewhere before. The Rule of Thirds basically breaks down your photo into a 3×3 grid that helps you place the subject matter of your photo. It’s one of the first things that photographers learn but what you might not know is that it’s ok to break this rule. Breaking these rules might also draw in your viewer in a new way that conventional photos just won’t. Depending on what story you are trying to convey, you might leave your subject on the split lines in order to incorporate something else into the photo and establish the background a bit better.
- Another small detail you can exercise is using leading lines to lead the viewer’s eye towards your subject. It’s all fine and dandy to have your subject stand out visually, but having some of these lines will help subconsciously guide your viewer’s eyes towards the subject in an intriguing and creative way!
- One of my favorite doctrines is to use the color theory when I’m trying to find an environment for shoots. I use Adobe Color CC so I can see for myself exactly what the vibe or feel of the photo will be like before we step out and start shooting. Here’s examples of how we used both the Complementary and Analogous rules of color theory:
- Angles is that special something you need to tune when you’re out shooting. You can shoot from a higher angle looking down to give a skinner look or shoot from a lower angle looking up to make your client look taller.
- Another thing to work with is the angle you’re shooting your flat lays with. Shooting from above with a bird’s eye view, at a 45 degree angle, and fully flat will drastically change the perspective of your photo. Try these angles out when you’re shooting to see what works best!
Aaaand that’s a wrap! I hope some of these tips will help you guys out there and give your photos an extra little something. If you guys have any questions just comment below and I will help you out!
Talk to y’all soon! 🙂