Tips to Help You Pick the Best Photo Every Time

Picking the right photo can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. There are some timeless tips you can use to pick the best photos every time you’re faced with an option.

Tips to Help You Pick the Best Photo Every Time
  1. Get rid of the fuzzies.
    Unless the photo was intentionally fuzzy, move along to the next one. Even if parts of the image are in focus, the unintentional fuzziness can ruin a picture.
  2. Unless it’s a joke, discard the ones where it looks like something is growing out of you.
    This is typically caused by a clutter object behind the subject of the photo. If a kid on dad’s shoulder wearing mouse ears stands behind you so you have mouse ears now too, you can assume that’s not the best photo of you.
  3. Nix the unflattering facial expressions.
    Although capturing a person’s most unflattering moments can be funny, they’re also the basis of most internet memes. When choosing your photos, discard any in which you’re making weird faces.
  4. Skip the distracting clutter and things creeping in from the edges of the frame.
    When you’re at a busy event, these happen more often than not. Objects, structures, shapes, colors, people, or otherwise distracting items that pull focus away from your image should go. That includes the random people at the edge of your frames.

In some cases, picking the best photos will be easy. Other times it will feel like all the images in a set are identical and a random choice is the best option. However, using these tips and eliminating photos will help you choose your single best photo.

How a Professional Photo Shoot Might Happen

Photo shoots vary depending on the photographer and the subject, and while some photo shoots have their challenges, most photographers love what they do. Here’s a look at how a shoot might go for someone who specializes in family photography. Some of the details might be slightly exaggerated for comedic effect.

Several Weeks Before the Shoot

The client calls the photographer to inquire about their services and rates. Photographer quotes a price, and waits while the client processes the amount. The client may begin negotiation tactics, or they may just book the shoot. Once the photographer and the client are on the same page and in agreement about the price, the photographer schedules the client’s shoot.

A Week Before the Shoot

The client contacts the photographer to say the family saw an entire spread in their favorite magazine and they want to recreate parts of it. The photographer asks to see the pictures, and the client sends them over. After reviewing the pictures, the photographer informs the client that doing so would be extra due to the extensive set and lighting required. The client becomes frustrated and agrees to stick with the original plan of family shots in natural settings.

This scenario is rather common for family photographers. People don’t realize the amount of work that goes into photography. Many of them think it’s a simple matter of point and click, and they fail to take into account the subtle nuances of things such as set pieces and lighting.

Once the photographer and the client are back on the same page, the photographer emails the client helpful tips to prepare for the photo shoot. These often go unnoticed, but the photographer continues to try.

Day Before the Shoot

The photographer calls the client to confirm the shoot for the next day. Some clients panic and realize they forgot to mark their calendars and need to reschedule, some clients say they remembered the shoot was tomorrow, but something came up and they need to reschedule, and some clients just say they’re ready and will see the photographer the next day.

Incidentally, it is helpful to give photographers notice before requesting to reschedule a shoot. Once you book a session, the photographer can’t book someone else in that spot. They miss out on other opportunities, and last minute spots can be difficult to fill. Some photographers may even charge a fee if you reschedule at the last minute.

Day of the Shoot

The photographer wakes up and prepares for the day’s work ahead. Before leaving for the shoot, the photographer eats something. This was in the email sent to the client as it helps everyone look their best, maintain their focus, and it provides energy to make it through the shoot. Afterward, the photographer loads his or her equipment in the car and leaves.

Depending on the number of shoots scheduled for the day, as well as the complexity of each, a photographer may have a lot of equipment. If it’s an indoor shoot, then the photographer may need lights, and different cameras capture images differently so a photographer may have several cameras on hand. Upon arriving at the agreed location, the photographer sets up their equipment.

Next, the photographer goes over the plan with the client. This usually includes explaining why their child’s Transformer shirt is distracting to a family photo and suggesting another option, going over poses, and getting kids to show their smile. A photographer’s job is to be a people person, which sometimes means swallowing the aggravation of explaining things they sent in an email a week ago.

Now that everyone is on the same page, the actual photo shoot can begin. The photographer directs the family to their spots and tells them to smile. After the camera click, the youngest kid asks if he can go play now and the mother has to say no, they’re not done. Then the father looks at the photographer and asks about how long the shoot will take. The photographer explains the process again, and then resumes taking their pictures.

A good photographer wants to give families several options, so he or she may stage different poses. Of course, the majority of what takes so long is getting everyone to stand or sit up straight, face the camera, smile, look up, turn their head to the left, now to the right, now look straight ahead, no little Johnny, don’t pick your nose. Everyone stops so mom can wipe little Johnny’s fingers and help him blow his nose.

After an hour, the photographer is confident he or she has enough shots and thanks the family for their time. Unless the photographer and the client made different arrangements prior to the shoot, this is the point where the photographer usually asks to be paid. Some photographers are lenient and will collect after they deliver the images, but that’s not a typical practice. The client gathers payment while the photographer packs his or her equipment in the car. The payment is made and then the photographer lets the family know when they can expect to receive their photos.

Evening After the Shoot

The evening after the shoot depends on whether it was digital or film. If it was digital, the photographer uploads the images into Photoshop and edits them. Once the editing is complete, the photographer sends the images to the client in the previously agreed upon method. If film was used, the photographer either develops the film his or herself, or takes it to a professional lab for development. Once the photos are developed, the photographer delivers the images to the client. This process can take several days for larger shoots.

Although a photographer’s experience varies from shoot to shoot, those dealing with people all follow a basic format. It starts with scheduling the shoot, sending information and confirming details about the shoot, arriving for the shoot, collecting payment, and then editing and sending the photos. Everything that happens in between is usually comedic fodder for the photographer’s blog.

How to Make More Money as a Photographer

Photography is a tough field, and there is a lot of competition. Not only do you have to be a fantastic photographer, but you also need to have a basic understanding of how to run a business. Many photographers stress over how to get a client, and when they do get a client, they don’t have a system in place to help them earn as much as possible. The goal is to help you earn more money, so give a few of these tips a try.

Stock Photography

This tip will help you in a couple of ways. First, it builds a portfolio of residual income. It’s not a lot of income, but it’s more than you’re going to get just sitting on your rear waiting for clients. Second, you’re no longer wasting your resources and your talent. You have thousands of dollars in equipment and a lot of talent to boot. When you’re not using either of them, you’re wasting them. Set up a free photo shoot or two and get some great photos that would be suitable for the various stock photo collections out there.

Portrait Parties

A portrait party works like a Tupperware or cosmetic party except you offer your services as a photographer. If you’re clever and set up an engaging party that doesn’t seem pushy or awkward, you might be able to make a decent amount of money by booking appointments. Women who are newly engaged or have children will find value in your services, and if you’re good at what you do, you’ll have repeat business.

Mini Sessions

Your time is valuable, and you’re worth whatever you charge for your photos. With that in mind, not every family can afford your prices, despite the fact that they want quality, professional pictures. This scenario can work in your favor if you’re willing to include mini sessions in your bag of tricks. For those families who don’t want to spend an afternoon posing for that perfect Christmas picture, offer up cheaper mini sessions where you snap quick shots of a newborn, the new family puppy, or whatever moment the client wants to capture. Stick a few of those in each week, and you can make up your afternoon rate easily.

Hole Discounts

It’s the nature of the job that people will cancel, or certain times are just undesirable for most people. That sometimes leaves you sitting at home with nothing to shoot. Use that time to reach out to your contacts and offer a steep discount to fill your holes. You wouldn’t have made any money in those spots anyway, so you might as well get creative and increase your earning potential. And, you may just get a repeat client out of the deal, too.

How to Make More Money as a Photographer

Work Your Contacts

From the moment you decide to turn photography into a business, you should keep a record of your clients. More specifically, you should get their email address and create a contact list that you can occasionally hit up when you need a little extra cash. That doesn’t mean you send out incessant emails that annoy them. To use this tip properly, you will have to pay attention to your clients and follow up.

For example, if a client comes in for engagement photos and you don’t secure the wedding deal, send an email and ask them for the business. Or, if a client comes in for a pregnancy shoot, send an email a week after the due date and ask to do the newborn photos. This is also a great technique to use in conjunction with filling your holes at a discounted rate. Send out a mass email letting people know you have some spots to fill at discounted rates.

Second Shooter Deals

Weddings are a big undertaking, and it’s difficult for one photographer to get every available shot at a wedding by themselves. Some photographers will hire second shooters to help cover a wedding, and it’s a great way to make money. Join a Meetup group or a local camera club and get to know some of your fellow photographers. Find out if anyone is looking for second shooters, and start discussing ways you can help each other out. If you’re willing to be a second shooter, even at a discounted rate, you can fill up some free days and earn money.

Take Advantage of Holidays

Christmas is a great time of year to earn a little extra cash because people want more personalized Christmas cards that include their picture. It’s also a time when more families are all together, so even if they don’t want Christmas cards, they may want family portraits. The key is to take advantage of this time by offering promotions.

Use your own friends and family to help you promote this. Offer them a free session if they agree to post their photo on their social networks naming you as the photographer and including your link and contact information with it. Use your client list to get the word out about your holiday promotion, and be open to using mini sessions and hole discounts with this, as well. You can leverage your time and business opportunities during a holiday rush for maximum earning potential.

Freelance for Local Magazines

Large magazines work with well-known photographers, or already have photographers on staff. Smaller magazines work with stock photography (another reason to jump on-board the stock photography train). But, local magazines are usually scrambling to find local photos, or they put it on the writer who may not have the eye to capture the local sights in all their glory. This is where you come in.

If you haven’t done so already, wander around town and take photos of your area. They can be anything: the skyline at night, a popular locale, a landmark, a statue, or even a picture of the crowded street. Whatever you think looks good and would meet a local magazine’s needs. Send one or two of the photos to the editor of the magazine and offer a reasonable price. If the editor likes your work and your prices work with their budget, you may get the job. It’s a great way to build your portfolio and make some extra money at the same time.

There are plenty of ways you can increase your money as a photographer, but you have to be willing to do them. Sitting at home marketing yourself on Facebook may work initially, but you have to find other ways to show off your work. Follow even a few of these tips, and you should see an increase in your profits.

Digital vs. Film Photography

The digital vs. film photography debate is a longstanding one with people falling into one of three camps. Camp A works only with film and they believe that digital photographs cannot reproduce the look, feel, and colors of film. Camp B works only with digital and they think film isn’t worth the hassle or expense when digital does just as good. Camp C believes that both have their merits and will use, or at least tolerate, both.

Camp A – Film Only

Photographers who only use film point out that film has dynamic range when it comes to details in the highlights and shadows. Film is also forgiving, even if you overexpose it. This group does caution against using local photo labs, though. To make film photos look their best, you need a proper photo lab that takes its time developing photos, not a lab focused on quantity over quality. Camp A advocates for learning to develop film yourself to ensure the integrity of the photos you take. It’s a delicate process, and photos not properly developed lose their brilliance.

Digital vs. Film Photography

Camp B – Digital Only

Digital’s major advantage over film is its cost. As the demand for film goes down, the price goes up. Many companies have stopped production of film, so those who have a favorite brand may have to deal with the hassle of finding the film as well. On top of those expenses, you have the extra expense of developing the film, even if you do it yourself. Digital gives photographers the ability to store photos on a memory card instead of changing out rolls of film, and they can back up those photos to a computer or external hard drive. With film, if something happens to the rolls between shooting and developing, you could lose those images completely. That can make for an unhappy photographer, and in some cases, unhappy clients.

Camp C – Likes Both

The photographers in this camp think both have their strengths and weaknesses, and will use the one most appropriate for the setting. Since the biggest drawback to digital is that it doesn’t handle light well at all, a person in Camp C may choose to use film for outdoor shots where natural light can be better captured. But, if the photographer works an indoor wedding, a digital camera with a large memory card might be more effective for the sheer number of photos that he or she can save and back up to an external source. A wedding client would not be happy to hear that something happened to their wedding photos because the photographer chose film and couldn’t develop the photos.

For quality of picture alone, film is the better choice. But, economics and the ability to take and save more pictures puts digital in the lead. As with any technology, it will continue to improve over time. There have been several features added to digital cameras that help photographers deal with the natural light issue, and some photographers are confident that those improvements will continue until one day film will be completely obsolete.

How to Prepare for a Photo Shoot

Some people may not realize that a little preparation before a photo shoot can go a long way in making sure their photos look good, and the session doesn’t run over time. It helps everyone when you know how to prepare for a photo shoot.

How to Prepare for a Photo Shoot
  1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
    Aside from the fact that dehydration can make people cranky, properly hydrating before a photo shoot helps rid the body of excess water and bloating, which can significantly impact how you feel about your photos.
  2. Lay out clean, ironed clothes the night before.
    Ironed clothes help the images look professional, and laying them out the night before is a time saver. Avoid shirts with logos or large, busy prints that draw attention away from your face. Solid, muted colors work best. Use a lint roller to clear away hair and lint.
  3. Ensure everyone is properly groomed.
    Facials and haircuts should be done a week before the shoot to give everything time to settle. Fingers and toes should be properly cleaned and polished, if desired. Teeth and hair should be brushed. And, makeup should be as natural as possible. Bring a lip balm with you as moist lips always look better in photos.
  4. Make sure everyone eats before coming to the photo shoot.
    It is important to eat before a photo shoot. You will look and feel better, and you will be more focused and energetic during the shoot.
How to Prepare for a Photo Shoot

Following these tips can help improve the look of your photos, and ensure that your session runs as planned. You can also check with your photographer to see if they have any other suggestions, as well.