Display-Worthy Photo Tips
Professional photographers share their tricks of the trade.
Professional photographers Karin De Winter from Winterlight Photography in Belgium and Roberto Ojeda from Photography by Roberto Ojeda in Miami shared some great tips on how to get those perfect photos.
“Always respect the horizon line and set it on any of the one-third imaginary lines that divide the shot,” says Ojeda. “Especially when traveling. For portraits of people, go vertical, for environment and cityscapes, go horizontal, and if the mood strikes, go square.” He also recommends activating the smile and face detection feature for point and shoot cameras.
Ojeda says if you have a flash, your subject should be against the sun. If you don’t have a flash, keep the main light source behind you while taking the picture. Try to avoid shooting from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, unless the subject is in the shade. And remember, De Winter warns, take the camera you are most used to using, the one you are most comfortable with. When you get a new one, go out and practice with it near your home. “If you are familiar with the principles of exposure, aperture and ISO, then shoot accordingly in aperture or manual mode. But if you are not (yet) then reside to program or auto mode. The best photos are being made when the photographer focuses on what is in front of the eye and he or she does not have to worry about technical issues or settings.”
Find the Perfect Photo Subject
“Photographs will need to make some sort of lasting impression for people to want to hang them in their home for display,” says De Winter. “It will have to be an image of a subject that they can relate to: a photo with a universal appeal, a powerful story or a strong mood.” De Winter says that landscapes should have strong colors and patterns, ideally with a small human element in the distance like a person, cabin, or boat. Although it will mean a waiting game, animals should have photos taken right when they are about to perform an action or are looking at you for a more vibrant photo. Also, remember to get a variety of shots: different landscapes, people shots, detail shots, a variety of action shots. “It is the eye that is your most powerful tool you have available to make successful and lasting photographs, the camera is only secondary to that,” De Winter says. “So, keep your eyes and mind open, and go out and explore.”
The go-to method for displaying photos is usually picture frames, of course. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a dull collection of unrelated snapshots in homogeneous frames. Berley Farber, personal curator, designer, and owner of San Francisco-based Farber Art Services, recommends creating a montage of your vacation photos and mementos on one wall to tell the complete story of your trip. His tips for a memorable display:
1 Find a wall that’s visible from anywhere in the room, but avoid using the focal or main wall. That should be left for larger art pieces.
2 Select the best three or four photos from your trip and have them printed by a professional—but keep the number limited. “After the fourth photo, people doze off,” Farber says.
3 “Create variety, because the eye will crave it,” Farber says. Once you have your pictures printed in the sizes you desire, Farber emphasizes selecting frames in a variety of widths, shapes, textures, and colors, and using a combination of matted and unmatted photos. “The same black frame will cause the photos to just wilt and die,” he warns.
4 Hang the photo that tells the most complete story of your trip at eye level. Then hang the others around it at even distances where they fit. “Don’t wait for some aesthetic genie, just go ahead and put them on the wall,” suggests Farber. “Most people stop because they think there is one certain way to do it. Just bang the nail in.” For a more curated look, add art pieces into the collage.
5 The wall should always be a work in progress. Leave space for your next trip. Farber also mentions that if you want that extra artist’s eye, you can always hire a professional designer for hanging photos. Rates can run around $150 per hour.
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