- Thursday, May 9, 2019

5 Photography Tips for Fantastical Fotos that will Make People be all Wow You're Amazing

5 Tips for Beginner Photographers to improve artistic value, meaning, and overall discover amazing pictures taken with their own fingers.

When I was a kid, I did photography in 4H. I loved it. Part of it was because my grandfather and my aunt are both hobby photographers, so I had something I could talk about with them. Part of it was also that I enjoyed art and this was a new medium for me.

I remember I had a very old camera, 35 mm film, but it was like a Canon except all of it was manual. Even to take the film out of the camera, I had to rewind the film with a crank and listen for when it was finished, and I often removed the film while under a blanket in fear I didn't crank it far enough. For you young whippersnappers out there, if the film got touched by light, all your pictures would be ruined.

Fast forward 25 odd years, and I started blogging. Photography became a thing again for me. I didn't realize how much I suck at it. Apparently, 2 years doing photography in 4H isn't any kind of real professional training. But the good news is, being dumb at something just makes me want to learn more about it, so I did actually learn some things I'm going to share in list form from the top of my head.


This is my aunt Jo's definition of photography. She is a firm believer that it doesn't matter what kind of camera you have because the best photographs are ones that capture light well. Some of her best photographs were taken with a really cheap and almost useless camera, and honestly, it's best to learn that way because you learn the art form.

Painting is the same way. You are looking at objects, but you are also looking at how light interacts with those objects in a very Einsteinian Relativity sort of way. It's amazing like you start off learning to draw a cube and shading the sides, and draw an egg and blending the shadows, but then you get to really looking at things, and you see that even the darkest part of that egg has a flash of light somewhere along the edge.

So it's more than just "have amazing lighting." When I take pictures of things on black poster, outside lighting turns my black into gray. Strangely, when I did closeups of dandelions, my gray bumper came out dark raving black in the shadows of natural sunlight. Every texture is different under different lighting and different angles it truly is an art to get to know those textures and how light interacts with them in different scenarios.

This was taken on a red trash can...

But in a different angle with some different camera settings: same scenario and lighting...

So when you go to snap photos, I think it's easiest to try to envision what you're looking at as if you're about to put it on Photoshop, and what it would look like if you completely desaturated it to black and white because in painting, light and shadows are done via tints and shades and are generally considered "Without Color" like "black and white." The only time color exists is when you bend the light (rainbows!).


As an Artist, I love photographs that have striking contrast, but as a graphic designer, photos that have little shadows are the easiest to manipulate. Most portraits and products tend to do best when there are no shadows on the product or face, often utilizing some kind of screen over the light sources whether you are talking a cloud overlay under the sun or a white sheet over the light bulbs, and then also some kind of reflector to keep shadows at bay.

The award winning photograph in National Geographic would probably look horrible on photos of products on a website, or even photos of models in an advertisement. Sometimes artistic photography is amazing in graphic design, but that's not always the case. I love Instagram filters, but would I want to watch Die Hard in XPROII filter? Probably not.

Not to mention, the worst time to make a huge emotional artistic statement about something political would be in the product shots for an advertisement.

But on the other hand, sometimes the message is communicated best via artistic photography that broke all the rules, that has intense shadows with serious juxtaposition to portray the sadness of a puppy abandoned alongside of the road in order to sell more Kibbles and Bits. 


I see so many photographers and bloggers taking pictures of objects for stock photographs, like a computer keyboard and mouse with a notebook and pen... or makeup and makeup brushes... just random objects placed neatly on a colorful background.

I wanted to play too.

I grabbed things from everywhere. I abused the Dollar General sales, found stuff in my house I forgot about, even cleaned some old clutter just to discover... I took hundreds of pictures. I found the better pictures focused heavily on one or two objects as opposed to pictures that used a lot of objects. Like to me, I had maybe 3-5 objects at a time, but it looked horrible without focusing on only one of those objects. I mean that both camera focus and my own mind's focus.

I do pay attention to all the things, and I do have photos of lots of things, but I focus on ONE thing. Like I can take a picture of this flower, focus on that one pollen cluster, but first look around is there a bug trying photobomb my flower? Oooh that leaf would be great blurred in the background, much better than the dead leaf. Back to the pollen cluster forget everything else while I hit this snap button.

It's like shooting a gun really. Breathe out as you pull the trigger. Try not to shoot when you have to pee or right after you had a strong cup of espresso.

But if I try to focus on all things like, "Ooh, you want that hair clip's corner, but also that thing, and the whole point of this photo shoot the other thing," I get overwhelmed, and that emotion comes through the picture. It's such a subtle difference that has an overall impact.


The best pictures interrupt life and invade privacy. Not like pictures of guys masturbating in the men's room. I mean the best pictures invade a person's moment like while they are laughing right before they say, "Hey I didn't know you were going to take a picture! I'm not ready!"

If you let people get ready and pose, you are going to get "EH" pictures.

This is why models do photo shoots, like the idea is to take a thousand pictures of a model standing in hopes to find an authentic, natural stand. Think Austin Powers.... Work with me baby.

Image may contain: one or more people, beard, bird, hat and outdoor

I think the Brady Bunch had an episode on this and called it the "element of surprise." But the point is, you capture more authenticity if you can get the shot while people's smiles are genuine before their public relations smile, when you can get their bad side in good lighting... It's like when you take photos during sporting events, you want the moment the ball is going into the hoop and the basketball player is in the air, or the moment a guy leaps into the end zone with fierce determination derpy face... You kind of want that same thing in real life when kids are playing, when adults are interacting, and when life is being lived.

Image may contain: 1 person


I'm stealing this one from Olivier Duong because it's awesome, and I needed a link anyway to a similar post for SEO purposes, and I fell in love with his entire post all of it was awesome advice.

10 Photography Tips to Help You Take Your Photography Up a Level 

But the point is if you're in the mindset to "take pictures," you are at best going to depict exactly what's in front of you. But Kodak didn't build a brand on "look at how well this photograph looks like the real deal!" Kodak built a brand around Kodak Moments, because the point of "taking pictures" is to capture a moment, preferably the unforgettable ones so that we don't accidentally forget things so important they are unforgettable, so with that, you kind of have to make a picture that captures the feelings.

Image may contain: one or more people, hat, closeup and outdoor

Not to mention nobody gives a shit if you are taking really amazing pictures from a technical standpoint except other photographers who need the ego stroke to find flaws in your work. Most people just like the photos that make them feel the feels. Norman Rockwell was a master of understanding this concept as a Painter.

I'm still not the world's greatest photographer, but I get by.

To me, it's more of a life long mastery of light, one I take pretty seriously like I study light as an artist (photographs / paintings / compositioning), as a science (you know the speed of light is one of the few constants in this universe, like while traveling at the speed of light, time and space are relative to each other), and as a faith (Let there be Light). I also mix all 3 of this sometimes like I start thinking about light and darkness on a spiritual level, of Wiccan Magic and the difference between light and black magic, and the difference between emotions of the light and emotions of the darkness, and THEN start thinking about paintings and how light interacts on objects in our world and find similarities between that and Wicca and Christianity and Heaven and Hell like I don't need acid and weed to take me to this place my brain does this on its own.

But as far as my blogs and graphic design are concerned, I consider photography one of many artistic mediums, and I love mixing mediums. Everyone has their specialties and styles, and I'm still always looking for one to have or try on, but I love playing with it like a child coloring in her coloring book. So when my assignment is to create an ad for someone, I choose whether or not I want to go photographs or illustrations, raster or vector, hand painted and manipulated in Photoshop or mouse painted in Illustrator... Photography is a piece of that.

I will never be a photographer. I will always be an artist.

For more reading, I liked these 2 blog posts...

Top 10 Digital Photography Tips 

This is a great basics for beginners using DSLR cameras trying to figure out ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed, and stuff like that. My favorite tip he gave was the "rule of the thirds," which basically you draw a tic tac toe on your picture and aim for your focal point to be on one of the dots. But if you really want to get into ideas like that, on an artistic level, you really want to study all the theories and use behind PHI (the ratio, not the symbol).

Not to get off on a tangent but I did so here we go, I found a free thing like this before on the internet for my daughter's project on the Golden Ratio, but I can't remember where it is, but they do have an app for this.... PhiMatrix