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The Blue Snapper

I usually take photographs of single subjects and work with the image to bring out what is already there. Taking this picture was very different for me - it was my first time changing out a background for a photo as well as my first time taking a group photo. It taught me a considerable number of lessons, especially given that the project was rather short - taking the actual photos took under ten minutes and the editing process took about an hour once I figured out what I wanted to do.

Four Lessons from the Picture-Taking Process:

1. Use an external monitor

I used my phone to see what I was doing. This gave me a good idea of how the lighting

looked and what was in focus.

2. Light the wall behind you

I did not light the wall behind us, which left me hard-to-control shadows.

3. Keep everyone on a similar plane

The more depth in the picture, the harder it becomes to keep everyone in focus. I

ended up with many out-of-focus pictures because of the distance between the bassist

and everyone else.

4. Take a lot of pictures

There will be focus problems and weird faces in every portrait session you do; with a

group, the chances of that are much higher. Take a lot of photos so that you can choose

between different options. You can even edit multiple takes into one composite

product, if you're ambitious

Four Lessons from the Editing Process

1. Try different ideas

I made three or four different versions, each wildly different. Don't be afraid to throw

bad ideas away.

2. Match your lighting colors

Unless you want the original media to clash aggressively with your edits, apply some

color overlays or textures to match the lighting in your picture. Edit the color balances in

your photos too, and don't be afraid to play around with the lighting curve to go for the

contrast that you want.

3. Use the internet

Find media online - you don't have to draw all of your components! Just make sure to

avoid using copyrighted work.

4. Look at the world for inspiration

People wear clothes in public (usually), and those clothes are (usually) chosen because

they look good. Look for pretty patterns that you can recreate. Architecture is beautiful

in part because our brains understand a stable structure when they see one. Look at

buildings and bridges for compositional inspiration.


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