Happy World Photography Day!

August 19 is World Photography Day.  Actually I never knew this was an official day before now!  In celebration of the day, this post will be about photography, complete with some photo tips that I hope you find useful.

Below is a picture of the earliest surviving photograph entitled A View From the Window at Le Gras taken by a French inventor named Nicephore Niepce.  The photograph was created in 1826 with an exposure time of 8 hours!

Photography has come a long in the past 185 years.  Actually, it's come a long way in the past 20 years and even the past 10 years!  I remember that my first camera was a neon pink 110 film camera which was the kind of camera that looked like a flat rectangle.  I must have been in 5th or 6th grade and managed to capture the photo below with it while on vacation in Colorado.  The photo won an honorable mention in a local photography contest and was published in the newspaper.  This set my love for photography in motion.

It wasn't until many years later in grad school (getting a Master's of Education degree) that I weaseled my way into my first real photography classes.  My professor had a simple method of teaching.  He showed us slide after slide of photographs and told us exactly what was wrong or right about them.  The second week of class, I excitedly showed him many photos that I had taken in the past.  I thought they were really good.  He didn't.  He proceeded to tell me what was wrong with each one as I tried not to cry.  By the end of the semester and hundreds of photographs later (all film), he was impressed with my portfolio and gave me an A+.  I also earned an A+ in the subsequent photography classes I took as well.  Those were the highest grades I earned in all of my college and grad school years :)

A few years later, I took a break from teaching elementary school and worked as a professional photographer for a national portrait studio chain.  I was given some training and learned the rest by trial and error and by observing other photographers.  When reviews came out, I was rated the company's top photographer in our district.  Victory achieved... then I quit the job and went back to teaching school :)

I've learned a lot of valuable information about photography from my past experiences.  Therefore, for World Photography Day, I offer some (hopefully helpful) photography tips:

5 Tips for Looking Good in Photos:
Because everyone I photographed in the studio said "Make me look skinny."  :)
  1. Practice your smile in a mirror.  Become aware of how smiling and laughing effect the appearance of your lips, eyes, and wrinkles.  Also, learn what head tilt and/or angle works best for you.
  2. Angling your body and shoulders away from the camera can make your body appear slimmer.
  3. An exception to #2 is if you are a woman in a bathing suit.  In this case, face the camera square on and slightly stick your butt out behind you.  It can't be seen in the photo and will make your upper thighs look thinner.  Practice this one in a mirror.
  4. Double chin problems? Push your chin out toward the camera.  It may feel funny but it gets rid of the double chin.  Also, having the camera slightly higher than eye level looking down at you will slim your face, chin and neck.
  5. Watch your upper arms.  They can often look larger than normal in photographs.  Hold them slightly away from your body or put your hand on your hip to make them look thinner.

5 Tips for Taking Better Photos:

  1. Make sure your photo has a purpose and that the subject is sharply in focus.  An amazing photo is practically worthless if the subject is fuzzy.
  2. Consider the Rule of Thirds (typical tip I know).  Imagine your photo with a tic-tac-toe grid over it.  Placing your subject of interest or the horizon on a line or at an intersection often creates a more visual appeal.  Of course, some things just beg to be centered in the photo.
  3. If you mean for the horizon to be straight in the photo, then make it perfectly straight.  Fix it in a photo editor later if you have to.  A slightly tilted horizon can be the difference between a picture looking like a snapshot vs a photograph.
  4. Watch the background.  And the corners.  And the sides.  If there is anything distracting, move your subject or more yourself.  A common culprit... always make sure there is nothing "growing" out of someone's head.
  5. Try different angles.  Zoom in, zoom out, shoot from up high, shoot from the ground, or tilt your camera for an artistic flair.  Try this assignment that I once had:  Find one object of interest and take five unique, completely different photographs of it.  It will change your (photographic) world.

"A good photograph is knowing where to stand."
~Ansel Adams

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Angela. I consider myself the world's worst photographer yet I appreciate good photography. That's one reason I read your blog (Dulce is another!). I will try the tic-tac-toe hint. Thanks goodness for digital.