Photography techniques & tips

  • Try radically different concepts – including something that does not show your face on the cover. Get crazy with your poses. Let your personality come out. Have fun.
  • Have some funny phrases handy to use just before you take the photo for a natural smile.
  • Pay attention to what you’re WEARING. Avoid tiny prints. Check with each other so you don’t clash. Do you blend into the background?
  • Use makeup! Airbrushing is expensive.
  • Double chin? Turn your head to the left or right about 30 degrees.
  • Take many many many pictures, back to back. Like at a football game. Click click click. This is particularly helpful with group shots to get the best look on everyone’s faces and everyone’s eyes open.
  • Don’t rely on reviewing your pics on a tiny LCD screen.
  • Unless your album is a concert recording, avoid live concert pics, especially for the cover.
  • Avoid banners, placards, and other promotional items.
  • Look around for things to eliminate or tidy up in your scene. Pick up stray papers, arrange curtains, dust the piano, pick up your underwear. Outside, watch for trash and other things in your scene that you might not notice until you’re looking at proofs.
  • Try different angles off frontal – some slightly off, some drastically off.
  • LIGHTING: Avoid using flash – natural lighting is better, even if it is an extra light brought into the room. Pay attention to time of day and angle of sun. How does it interact with objects in the scene, the background or reflections on people’s glasses, car windows, mirrors.
  • To produce a dramatic effect, light from the side.
  • Try bouncing your flash or a light off a ceiling or wall.
  • Using something white (poster board, for example) will reflect light onto the darkened side of the face.
  • Overcast days can complement skin tones and help keep eyes wide open.
  • Need a basic background? Stretch an ironed sheet and illuminate with a cheap shop light. Shine the light from the front for bright crisp feel. From the back for a dramatic glow.
  • Angle your instruments slightly away from the camera to avoid reflections.
  • Avoid posing people within 5 feet of a wall because of the shadows that will result (unless you want those shadows for effect). Try angling about 5-10 degrees off perpendicular instead of straight on the wall.
  • Be aware of your background. Avoid mirrors. If you cannot avoid reflective objects in the frame, position yourself with at least a 30 degree angle to avoid the reflection.
  • Avoid alcohol or tobacco in your photos. Some newspapers and magazines may not print them.
  • Without getting into technical photo stuff like f-stops, if you have an SLR, try different aperture settings for different depth of fields, which will bring your background in or out of focus for a different feel.
  • Stock photos: If you need an image you simply can’t create you can check online stock photo sites. Click here for some of my favorite stock photo sites….

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