Picture perfect

How to get the best photograph possible

Graphic by: Brooke Martin | Production Assistant

As a photographer, I have come across a couple of different ways to get a good picture. The first, and my personal favorite, is that of working with a serious subject, aesthetic background, and soft lighting to make an appealing photo with minimal editing. The second, requires a subject, plain or simplistic background, mediocre lighting, and a computer to change almost everything. The first only needs a camera and the knowledge of the basics, whereas the second requires a camera and the knowledge and expertise to edit.

The first option is clearly the easier of the two, and with that, I firmly believe it creates better, more realistic photos. The second creates these overdone and frankly overproduced photos. Learning how to use a camera takes time and effort, but once you know your brand and model like the back of your hand, it’s almost second nature. Flipping through the aperture or preset settings and knowing which works best per scenario. The best thing is, that model never changes. The manufacturer never updates pre-existing models in order to optimize them, so once you learn the button layout and how it works, it’ll work like that until you get a new model. The time spent learning is an investment.

Photography was once about how well a person could find beauty in everyday life and capture it with a lens. That definition has changed as times have, but the sentiment stayed the same. That is, until these new-age photographers showed up with their fancy tech. Now the act of taking a photo isn’t enough anymore, especially in professional settings. Becoming a professional photographer means knowing how to edit and take an extremely good photo and turn it into a ‘perfect’ photo. The little imperfections are what give a photograph character and taking those away robs what makes each photo special.

If you or someone you know has ever had photo commissions done, I can bet the final products were heavily edited to do away with pesky fly-aways or smooth out wrinkles. I run a small one-person photo business where I take professional-grade photos for cosplayers at conventions, and I do not edit my photos. I make sure to give my clients professional-grade photos without the unnecessary costs that are accompanied by computer hardware to run the expensive editing software. Trust me, convention lighting is horrid, but because I know how to work my camera I know how to make every photo pop.

I have taken multiple classes on photography and spent enough time with my camera to know what makes a good photo. I’m going to share some tips with you. Firstly, outdoor lighting is always better than those industrial bulbs, even if it’s cloudy and overcast. Secondly, as a photographer you need to know how to pose subjects and what looks good, you can usually find basic poses online. Thirdly, have fun. Photography is subjective and as much as I might find unedited photos more visually appealing, that doesn’t mean you might not love the journey of editing and making a photo ‘perfect.’

I will give credit where it’s due. Editing photos is difficult and takes a lot of skill. I could never sit in front of a computer screen for hours to get the perfect combination of warm and cool colors.

No matter how you take pictures, don’t stop! Art and artists are what make the world turn and every photo taken is better than one not.