Annoying Photography Practices

I see terrible photographs all the time and everywhere. The following, in no particular order, are the one's I notice most.

Photographing kids from the standing position - I see this one all the time and everywhere. People who post pictures of their kids on Facebook seem to be the biggest offenders. Bend your knees, and get down at their level and on their plane.  You look at kids all day from an adult perspective. We all know that view. Get low, lay down, shoot up at them, and get a perspective that actually shows your kids (and animals) in a flattering way, and within the environment. They're your kids, make them look as cute as you think they are. People will notice and appreciate your efforts even though they may not recognize what you did or why.

Just say no to this perspective!

Just say no to this perspective!

Bend your knees and get on their level

Bend your knees and get on their level

Shooting video in portrait mode - If you shoot a video with your cell phone in portrait mode then you may as well hang your TV on end. This is another big offender seen all the time on Facebook. How many movies have you seen in the theater with the screen hung in portrait view? None, that's how many. Turn your camera to landscape orientation. That's "sideways" and enjoy better videos. You're welcome.

There's no clear subject in your picture - A picture with a ton of shit going on is confusing. You don't know what to look at, and your eye is not drawn anywhere. In really busy pictures you don't know who or what is the subject, or what story you are trying to tell. Find a subject and make that your focal point telling your photo story. Get closer if you have to. Change your angle, talk to people. Ask to take their picture*. A good photograph is all about composition, story telling, and having a clear subject. 

Other than chaos, I have no idea what I found interesting.

Other than chaos, I have no idea what I found interesting.

Posting/sharing blurry images - If an image is blurry delete it. I don't care how cute their smile is, it's blurry. Share only tack sharp images, and stop posting blurry pictures on Facebook. No need to elaborate further. Just say no to blurry pictures! Don't confuse a blurry photograph with motion blur. When done right blur can add an artful touch.

Quick Tip: Every time you photograph someone always focus on the eye nearest you. You can learn more about making tack sharp photos here.

Motion blur adds an element of interest.

Motion blur adds an element of interest.

Over processing an image - Shifting the color correcting sliders all the way to the left or right does not equate to art. Crazy over processed HDR (high dynamic range) images are awful. Trey Ratcliff does HDR well, but few people can. Subtly is the key to a great image.

No image processing - Take a few minutes to retouch your photos and make them come to life. You took them, you want to share them, so why post a flat toned and poorly contrasted picture. None of your friends will share a crappy image. They will however, share something beautiful that stirs emotion. Or better yet, try processing in black and white.

Crooked water - Water does not stay put when it's angled. No, it runs downhill. Crooked horizons don't make sense. Get your lines straight. The same goes for Dutch angles. Your pictures aren't a Batman episode. If you're like me and can't make your lines straight then correct them in post. All image editing software can straighten what's crooked. Not much else to say about it.

At least it's angled in the direction the water is flowing.

At least it's angled in the direction the water is flowing.

 But this one is better.

 But this one is better.

Pictures of watches - If you create a nice image of your old watch, great! Just make sure the hour and minute hands are at the 10 and 2 positions. It's uniform, it frames the watch manufacturer's name, and just makes sense. Next time you see a photo of a watch that has the hands at some random spot you will now know why it looks odd. It's like driving... 10 and 2 people.

Distracting objects at the edges of the frame - Before you snap a picture look at the edges. Is something there that will distract the viewer from your subject? There is? Then move in closer. Change your angle of view, or move the object out of the way and try again. Clean edges keep the focal point on your subject.

Distracting

Distracting

Not Distracting

Not Distracting

Overly cropped images - Now this one is not too bad, but it's one you want to be aware of when cropping an image. Straightening an image or cropping in slightly to remove a distracting object is okay. Just note that a 24 megapixel sensor when not cropped is showing you 24 megapixels. If you crop half the picture it is still the same dimensional size, but now with only 12 megapixels. If you crop further, it may only be 8 mega pixels.

This is the same when you zoom with a smartphone camera. Digital zoom does not zoom. Rather, it crops the image. So your 8mp cameraphone becomes a 4mp image if you zoom 2x. If you need to zoom then stop being lazy and use your feet to walk closer.

Why should you care? Because you want a sharp image. When you crop you remove resolution, and you increase the size of the pixels making your photograph more pixelated. Pixelation is different from grain. A grainy image when, shooting at a high ISO, is fine. Pixelation is not fine.

Do your self a favor and practice getting it right in the camera. Perhaps you need to crop later in post, but study the reasons you are cropping in the first place. Learn what you did right and wrong and how you can improve. Then apply those lessons to the next picture.

All of these things annoy me, and I'm sure I missed a few. Learn the basics to good picture taking and your friends and family will love you for it. I'm done. Now go out and take a picture.

* If you take someone's picture on the street give them your email so they can contact you and you can send them the image later. Another idea is to have a personal business card with your name and email address on it. Take their photo then hand them the card. It's a nice way to meet new people, it helps create community, and it will help improve your photography skills.