Tara’s Photography Tips

Photography Tips is a guest post by photographer Tara Fletcher of Tara Fletcher Photography

If you’re a mom, you know that having pictures of your children is important. They grow and change every day. Digital photography has made it easy to have, not one adorable photo of your child eating a cookie, but 20. Yes. 20. Do you print them all? Heck no. Do you print even one? Probably not. More than likely, you post them on Facebook and tell yourself you’ll add it to the Shutterfly photobook you’ll make at the end of the year… that you haven’t actually made… in 5 years…

It doesn’t matter if you have kids or not. Digital photography is an amazing step forward, allowing us to have more documented moments of our fleeting lives than ever. Unfortunately, none of those moments will actually survive if we don’t print our photos! I am very guilty of this. I am still making books of my son from when he was 1. He will be 4 ½. Oh, and my daughter. She is 2. I’ve got a newborn book for her. Are you a digital photo hoarder like me? Thousands of photos stored on a computer that could crash any moment leaving you with nothing at any given moment? (*This is a disclaimer to back up all of your photos in multiple places! i.e. external hard drives, cloud storage, flash drives, CDs, etc.) All technology can, and will fail at some point. The only real way to make sure your images last is to print them. So, how does one choose which of those 20 ‘kid eating a cookie’ pictures to print?

Well, I certainly haven’t mastered this yet, but I can tell you that the first step is to get the image and then put the camera away. Be present for the moment. The fewer photos you take, the more they will mean, and the less overwhelming it will be to print them. I am here to give you some tips for getting that print worthy image right off the bat, so you can put the camera away and enjoy the rest of the time with your loved ones.

It doesn’t matter what you are shooting with, fancy DSLR or camera phone… these tips will instantly give you better images to print…

1. Use of light.

With the right light, even an Iphone image can be stunning. Shooting with harsh sun will create shadows that are unflattering. The best time to shoot is what photographers call ‘the golden hour’, about an hour or two before sunset, or after sunrise. The light is warm and even. Facing your subject toward the light creates beautiful catch lights in their eyes, while facing your subject away from the light can produce a beautiful rim of backlight, or a halo around them. Not convenient to photograph at golden hour? Look for open shade. Shade from a row of trees or along side a large building will diffuse the light evenly, creating a much more flattering image.

Catch lights examples:




Backlight.Facebook-1 Backlight.Facebook-2

2. Avoid limb chopping.

This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Probably because I was a perpetual limb chopper when I first started. If you cannot get your subject fully in your frame or you want to get in for a close up, do not chop limbs at joints. Try framing your subject to crop at the thigh, or above the waist instead of the ankle or knee. Don’t chop off hands or feet. You can also try taking a step back and getting the whole subject in your frame.

Initial Image:


Bad Crop:


Good Crop:


3. Follow composition rules.

Following some basic rules of photography composition can really take your images up a notch. Most people are familiar with the ever popular ‘rule of thirds’. This rule breaks your frame up into thirds, as shown in the images below. Placing your subject into one of the thirds, or along the intersections can make an image far more interesting. Most people place their subject directly in the center of the frame, resulting in a common and more boring composition. Once you have mastered the rule of thirds, you can move onto more advanced composition techniques, such as leading lines, framing your subjects with the background, shooting from different angles, and using negative space to enhance your photos.

Rule of Thirds (these images also demonstrate use of negative space):

RuleofThirds.Facebook-2 RuleofThirds.Facebook-1

Framing subject with background:

Framing.Facebook-2 Framing.Facebook-1

Unique angles:

UniqueAngles.Facebook-1 UniqueAngles.Facebook-3

Leading lines:

LeadingLines.Facebook-2 LeadingLines.Facebook-1

4. Capture real life.

Ok, so this is more of an opinion, but I really feel that images mean more when they are real. One of the reasons people take so many photos is to get that perfect picture. The one where everyone is looking and smiling at the camera. Sometimes, snapping a photo of your kids as they play, catching a moment between friends as they greet one another, or family members laughing at the dinner table can be the most meaningful images. Life isn’t perfect. It’s real. If you want to really document it, stay true to it.

RealLife.Facebook-1 PlayingintheRain.Facebook-1

Camping.Facebook-4 Camping.Facebook-3 Camping.Facebook-2

5. Get in your own photos!

Probably the most important tip! Your hair and make up doesn’t need to be done. You don’t need to lose a few pounds first. (See rule #4 about real life.) Life is a gift from God, and it is fleeting. Don’t be absent from your memories, and don’t be afraid to pass the camera off to someone else and ask them to take the picture. Trust me, you will be glad to look back and see yourself in your images, and so will your loved ones.

Want to learn more? Come ‘like’ me on my facebook page at www.facebook.com/tarafletcherphotography, where I will be posting more tips for getting great images with the camera you already have! You can also read more about me on my website www.TaraFletcherPhotography.com. Of course, it’s always a good idea to find a photographer whose work you love, to collaborate with. Together, you can create beautiful images that you will be proud to print and display in your home!

Tara is a Christian, a wife, a mother of two, a music teacher, and a passionate photographer. She loves to use photography to create art in life’s everyday moments, and glorify God in the process.




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