13 Tips For Getting the Best Photograph

In preparing for your party, you’ve chosen a beautiful invitation that will feature a photo of your guest of honor. You assume that once your photo is added to the invitation template, it will look every bit as beautiful.

To ensure that it does, take a few moments to consider the following details.

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1. Consider hiring a professional photographer.

Professional photographers tend to deliver a better photograph. Pros tend to ensure that their photos have a sharp focus, that their subjects are well posed, that the lighting is perfect and that the background doesn’t distract from the subjects of the photo. Consider using a class photo or a photo taken by a professional photographer. That will probably give you the best result.

2. If you want to use a print from a studio portrait, scan the original instead of photographing it with your phone.

If you have a professionally printed photo that you want to use, and you don’t have a digital file of it, please get a high quality scan of the print, at a minimum of 300 dpi, and attach that file to your order form (or e-mail it to us) when you submit your order. Do not use your phone to take a photo of a framed studio portrait. You phone photo may look okay on your phone, but when you see a print of that photo, you will also see all the reflections on the glass in the frame, including a reflection of you holding your phone. Also, your photo of the studio portrait will look slightly skewed.

If you choose to take the photograph yourself, here are some tips to keep in mind:

3. Seek out inspiration before you take your photos. 

If you’re not in the habit of shooting posed subjects, take a look around online and in magazines before you begin.  Notice which photos catch your eye.  See if you can figure out why.  Did the photo create an attractive mood?  Do you like the expression on the subject’s face?  Do you like the background of the photo?  Professional photographers consider a host of details before they shoot.  You can benefit from their experience by attempting to dissect their work, and using it as inspiration.

4. Consider the lighting.

Try to have the subject cast in natural light, either outdoors or indoors with the light coming in through a window. Make sure that the light isn’t blinding, and that it isn’t making your subject squint. Be sure that the subject is not standing in front of a window on a brilliant sunny afternoon. While they may look great in the room, they will wind up photographing as a dark silhouette in front of the light coming in through the window. The lighting source should be coming over the photographer’s shoulder and falling on the subject. It should not be behind the subject. Make sure that no shadows are falling on the subject, including the shadow of the photographer.  If you’re shooting indoors, please keep in mind that fluorescent lighting tends to be harsh on the subject. Avoid using the flash.

5. Try to arrange to have a neutral background behind the subject.

If the subject is a Sweet 16 girl who has had her hair and makeup done, and she’s wearing a tiara and she’s dressed to the nines in her gown, please do not pose her inside a cluttered bedroom, or any other area in the house that hasn’t been straightened up. Even if the house is immaculate, the furniture in the background may wind up distracting the eye from the subject of the photo. Ideally, you’d like the girl to stand before a blank wall. You could also choose to hang a clean, stain free, well ironed, solid colored bed sheet on the wall behind her, and use that as a backdrop.

6. Make sure that the subject has brushed their hair and groomed themselves.

The camera can be unforgiving. It can emphasize things that the naked eye may not see. Wisps of stray hair straggling from an up-do will show up in your photo, and may give the subject a messier appearance. Make sure that makeup has been touched up, that there is no lipstick on the teeth, and that the subject isn’t chewing gum.  If you are photographing someone with long hair, consider asking them to pull it to the side, and have it covering one shoulder instead of both.  This will give you a better view of their face.

7. Make sure that you hold your camera as steadily as possible.

This will help you get a sharper focus on your photo. If you have a tripod, use it. If you don’t have a tripod, try resting your camera, or your elbows, on any fixed piece of heavy furniture or any solid surface. The more that you (as the photographer) can keep your body still while shooting the photos, the better the chances that you won’t make any small movement that could wind up blurring your photograph.

8. Take advantage of digital photography. Take several photographs of the subject in the same pose. Then try a host of different poses.

This is the way that professional photographers conduct a photo session. It’s a good idea to take many more photos than you’ll need, and then to have this wide variety of photos available to choose from.

9. Get your subjects to speak while you’re photographing them.

Your subject will look more relaxed and less stiff and posed if you can encourage them to talk during your photo session. Top fashion models cultivate the talent of conveying a message to the camera with the expressions on their faces. Try to snap the subject’s photo as they’ve just finished saying something. The subject will wind up looking more alive, even while sitting still in a pose. More of their personality will come through in the photograph.

10. Experiment with keeping the camera just slightly above the middle of the subject’s face.

You will get an unflattering result if you shoot the subject from below, looking up their nostrils. You’ll get a more flattering result if you shoot the subject from slightly above.  Bear this in mind if you are photographing a newborn in a crib.  Try to take the photo from overhead, rather than from the usual vantage point, where you’d be near the baby’s feet and shooting their face from below.

11. If you are photographing a couple, or more than one subject in a photo, take even more photos.

It is harder to get a good photo when you’ve got more than one subject. One subject might come out looking great while the other is slightly out of focus or looking away. The more photos that you take, the better your chance of winding up with one in which all the subjects look great.

12. Have patience and allow the time needed to do the job right the first time.

If you wind up with a blurred photo and an unkempt subject in a messy environment, do not assume that graphic artists are magicians who can fix it up. Not much can be done to help a bad photo.

13. Make sure that you’ve seen a print of your photo.

Photos can look much different in print than they do on your phone or computer screen. Avoid disappointment by making sure that your photo will make a good print before you decide to use it on an invitation.


Photo ‘SAKURAKO – Photographer’ by MIKI Yoshihito used with gratitude via Creative Commons