How to Improve Your Photos

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.

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I’ve owed you guys a photography post since I went to BlogHer back in early August, so here it is… finally!

The photography session that I went to discussed how to improve your photos– from composition and lighting to self-portraits and how pictures can improve your blog. I learned a lot from the session and it was easily the most valuable that I attended at BlogHer. Here are the tips that I took away from it.

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The best camera you have is the one you have on you.

Basically, your camera is doing no good at home. Always take your camera with you! It allows you to document your life and capture experiences. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a fancy DSLR, point-and-shoot, or iPhone camera. Keep your camera on you at all times and snap away.

I use my DSLR quite a bit, but I always have my point-and-shoot in my purse, and I take my iPhone with me on runs to take pictures, like the one below.

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Look for lines.

Look for the lines of life (naturally and manmade), like roads, paths, buildings, etc. to include in your photos. Lines naturally lead your eye to another point, and images with lines show progress and where you are going. For instance, a photo of a path in the woods reflects a journey while a photo of just the forest doesn’t do as much. Look for lines everywhere– blades of grass, hardwood floors, even a Tupperware container’s textured top.

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Use the Rule of Thirds.

It’s totally fine to place your subject in the middle of your photo, but if you divide your field of view into thirds, then place the subject in one of those spaces, the composition is often more pleasing to the eye. Basically, think of a Tic-Tac-Toe grid on your photos. The main elements of the photo should come where the lines cross, not in the middle. Start thinking: “Am I centering an image?” and then try the Rule of Thirds to take the picture.

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Use your photos to tell a story.

A picture is worth a 1,000 words, right? The way you capture a scene can tell a story on its own (or be accompanied with just a few words). A picture sometimes tells a different story to different people, but make the image tell the story you want. You don’t even need words to tell a story; it just has to provoke thought in your readers.

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It is better to underexpose than overexpose.

When you’re snapping photos, it is better to underexpose (too dark) than overexpose (too light) photos. I use iPhoto to “brighten” my dark photos, but I can’t fix an overexposured photo. When this happens, my only option is to change it to black and white.

Edited underexposed photo:

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Edited overexposed photo:

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Light is your friend.

Light is flattering for people, animals, scenery, and especially food. But, it’s not always easy to find, so don’t be afraid to make light happen on purpose. For instance, chose a table at a restaurant next to a window or move your dish near a candle to take a better picture in a dark setting. Additionally, look for good light sources in your home (i.e. a window) and remember them.

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Keep It simple.

Simplicity is key in photos. Don’t over-prop and don’t be afraid to move something out of the way– like the junk on your dining room table. Also, take a minute to look around and see what is going on in the scene. Make sure there aren’t any random pug tails or a plant growing out of the back of someone’s head. Just by changing the angle, you can get a better photo.

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Snack

Mid-morning, while working away, I snacked on some red grapes and a Zucchini Muffin.

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Lunch

Not even an hour later, I decided to make lunch. I considered eating another snack, but skipping right to lunch made a lot more sense since grapes and a muffin didn’t do anything for my hunger.

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I used some leftovers from last night’s Creamy Fettuccine With Leeks, Corn, and Arugula, which I threw into a wrap, added some extra arugula, and ate as a sandwich. Not bad! 😀

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I finished off lunch with another Zucchini Muffin. I’m lovin’ these things!

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Up next: exercise! I’m taking Murph for his long walk of the day and then meeting Mal for a track workout.

See ya for dinner! I have a yummy one planned! 😎

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97 Comments

  1. Thanks for these tips. I feel a little down sometimes about not having a fancy DSLR (hopefully in a few months!) but agree that always carrying a camera is the most important things. I try to get good shots even with my p&s — it’s better than nothing! 😉

  2. Thanks for the great tips. As a new blogger, I find myself struggling to take decent pictures with my p&s. They seem to always turn out blurry or completely out of focus. Ironically, my iphone takes better pictures than my p&s! I also struggle with remembering to take pictures, mostly of my food. My camera has turned into a staple in my purse, just like my wallet and phone 😉

  3. I love the “thirds” I always thought you had to center the photo. Pictures come out so much better doing thirds and even cutting off part of the picture. You do not always need the whole head in a picture.

  4. I have definitely learned that natural light is the most important part of photos. It is so hard in the winter when the sun goes down earlier to get good dinner shots. That’s when the early bird special starts going on around here!

  5. Awesome tips. We learned a lot of those in art class because it’s the same with paintings and what not. But no matter how much you know in your head, going out, taking pictures, and learning through experience is what really makes the difference! And like you said..always have a camera on you. That way a moment never passes by where all you can think is “ohh I wish I had my camera!!”

  6. So true you can’t fix an overexposed photo! Just this Sunday I had my dSLR and put it on auto to make it easier for someone else to take a picture of me + my bride friend. I didn’t realize my husband had messed with the exposure setting in auto mode to really high for a night picture (who does that in auto mode anyways??) and all my pics were WAY too overexposed. It made me so sad because I didn’t realize it until later when I couldn’t get another shot.

  7. Thanks for your notes, Tina! I think most (all?) of these are common sense but it’s still good to remind ourselves of these “rules” 🙂
    See you Thursday!

  8. Tina –
    I’m catching up on your posts (been a busy weekend!) and I just have to recap a few things:
    1. CONGRATS ON THE HOUSE!!! yaaaay!
    2. Great photo tips! Thank you! I’m still adjusting to perils of photographing everything I do and dragging my DSLR around.
    3. Murphy “lawn surfing” was the highlight of my day 🙂
    4. I loved Popples with all my heart and soul back in the day. That lunchbox IS seriously cool.
    x

  9. Those are great tips. I often feel bad I don’t have the fancy camera but it is good to know I can get great shots with the camera I have and can afford. I especially love the rule of thirds. I’ll have to use that in some photos today.

  10. Thanks so much for the tips! I just started blogging recently and I’m taking more pictures than ever before, so this is something I’m actively trying to work on.

  11. Great tips. Natural light really is so important. My kitchen is far, far away from any windows and it’s so dark I have to use the microwave light when I cook. Needless to say, it’s challenging me to play around with different ISOs to get a good photo.

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