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Stop, take a look, make sure it’s the right angle PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Lee   
Ever take a photo and it looks like a pole is growing out of someone’s head? What about horns, or even wings?

It seems all too often a photo gets taken and at the time it looks great, but it can look a lot better if one thinks and plans ahead.

Often overlooked by any person taking a photo is the background behind the subject(s) of the photograph. As Britney stated in her tips article last week, it is very important to check out the background before snapping the photo.

Now, I don’t, by any means, consider myself a true professional. I’m just someone who fell in love with photography at an early age and has continued to take photos to this day. It’s something I’m truly passionate about and have a lot of fun doing.

The reason I chose backgrounds and angles to talk about is because I still occasionally get something in the background of my photos that doesn’t need to be there—including my own vehicle.

It all begins with the choice of location. You don’t want to pick a “busy” background. Choose something simple and fun that won’t draw the viewer’s eye away from the subject in the photograph.

Something as simple as an old crummy brick wall can turn into a great background.  —Photography by C Lee photo

Sometimes however, it can’t be helped and there will be something in the background that can’t be moved.

How are these backgrounds made better? It can be as simple as waiting for someone to walk by, a car to drive off or it will mean moving yourself.

Try shifting to the left or right. Can you use your subject to cover up the object in the background? If worse comes to worst, move your subject(s).

It doesn’t take long to figure out what is wrong with this photo.
The bottom of the cross appears to be shooting out from the top of
the bride’s head. Whoops.  —Photography by C Lee photo

Something else to think about is your subject. Are you going to take a cowboy and photograph him on the streets of Denver? Maybe, but not likely. You’re going to throw him on a horse, in a field or on his farm. Right?

Getting to know your subject is important. It will help you figure out who they are and what their personality is like. It will also help you choose that perfect location for the photos.

It is something I enjoy doing. Talk to them and step into their personal space as Britney eluded to last week. It’s a lot more fun chatting and having a good time during a session than being quiet and awkward. It will also make for better photos.

Angles add to your work

People may see me around Holyoke with a camera in my hand covering different events for the newspaper. There are many times when I look stupid holding the camera high above my head or even setting it on the ground to capture images.

I may look stupid and I may even be in the way, but I am usually happy with the pictures I make.

Bird’s eye and worm’s eye. These are two phrases I was taught when I was first handed a “professional” SLR camera nearly seven years ago at college.

The terms became more relevant when I met up with an Associated Press photographer in New York. She was a small gal, standing just above 5’—but she was good.

To give us some perspective, she took a photo from her standing position and then took one by holding the camera high above her head. The images were completely different even though they were of the same object.

Get creative and try it out. Most likely you’ll have fun experimenting and hopefully you’ll be happy with your photos.

Whoops. This is an example of wrong place, wrong time. Jack Lorenzini, at left, appears to have sprouted a pair of wings during the 1980 FFA banquet. Current Enterprise publisher Brenda Brandt took the photo 32 years ago and still laughs about it today.
—Enterprise file photo

Rule of thirds

Another area to look at is framing and positioning. In college, I was taught to use the rule of thirds. It’s not always appropriate to center your subject(s) in your frame. Try moving them off to one side. The photo of the bride and groom on the beach shows the rule of thirds lines.

The idea is that if you place your subject(s) in the intersections or along the lines that your photo will be more balanced and allow the viewer to interact with it more naturally. It also adds another element to the photo.

This photo is an example of the rule of thirds. The couple isn’t captured in the center of the frame. They are off center, adding to the photo’s quality.  —Photography by C Lee photo

Have fun with it. Get crazy. With today’s cameras, it’s pretty tough to screw up. Digital cameras let you take hundreds or even thousands of photos. So keep trying—you can always erase the bad ones.

Editor’s Note: This is the second article in the Enterprise’s “Tips from a Pro” photography series. Chris Lee grew up in Imperial, Neb. and was a 2004 CCHS grad. He now works for the Holyoke Enterprise and owns his own photography business—Photography By C Lee where he enjoys photographing families, seniors, engagements and weddings.

Holyoke Enterprise June 14, 2012