How I edit backlit beach photos in Lightroom and Photoshop

Shooting at the beach in the summer is one of my favorite ways to capture summer memories for my family. 

We are so fortunate to live within 4 miles of the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline in Holland, Michigan.

We often visit during the heat of the day, but when I notice there is going to be a beautiful sunset we pack up to head for an evening swim. My favorite way to shoot at the beach is with backlighting as the sun sets over the lake, however, this adds some challenges with exposing my images.

With strong backlighting, we often have to pick what we want to expose correctly – our subjects or the sky.

We could, of course, use additional equipment to properly expose both with the addition of a reflector or off camera flash, but personally neither of those methods work well for me at the beach. It’s not my favorite past time to chase my children with a reflector while trying to shoot and lugging more equipment to the beach on top of what the children have already deemed “necessities” is not my idea of fun.

Shooting at the beach in the summer is one of my favorite ways to capture summer memories for my family. With strong backlighting, we often have to pick what we want to expose correctly - our subjects or the sky. This is how I edit those potentially difficult photos.

before

Shooting at the beach in the summer is one of my favorite ways to capture summer memories for my family. With strong backlighting, we often have to pick what we want to expose correctly - our subjects or the sky. This is how I edit those potentially difficult photos.

after

For this reason, I choose to deliberately underexpose my subjects, and overexpose my sky knowing I will have to use post processing to achieve my vision for the image.

Finding the balance between underexposing your subjects enough to minimize blowing out the sky and not underexposing them so much that they cannot be brought back without significant noise and quality issues, can be hard. Shooting in RAW will help editing since it gives you more data to work with and greater flexibility with bringing back highlights and opening up shadows.

Practice makes perfect with this technique and I promise it gets easier to judge the line between underexposure/overexposure as you deliberately work with this technique more. Practice also helps with knowing how well your camera will handle the noise that will be introduced when you open up the shadows on your subjects.

I have included my process for editing my beach shots that are backlit in the video below.

While I use Lightroom and Photoshop to achieve my vision, my process can be easily adapted to the combination of Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop.

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Beyond boyhood: Photographing your son’s tween and teen years

As my boys transitioned out of boyhood and into their tween and teen years, I quickly realized that I needed a different approach to photographing them.

I mean, they have a social life now and all!

So I went on a mission to start capturing them in a more intentional and creative, yet unobtrusive, way. One that would represent them and who they are while satisfying my need to be creative and artistic.

Along the way, I’ve found some things that have made this mission a little easier and a little more fun. I hope these little discoveries will encourage you to keep picking that camera up and photographing your older boys, too.

There is so much to love about this age, and I’ve found that it is really so fun to connect with them and capture this time in their lives – I promise it is so worth it!

1.  Observe and show interest

When my boys were younger, I was almost always actively engaged in the playtime or activity happening in front of my camera. As they’ve become older and more independent, I’ve tried to respect their space and their time with friends, so I’ve become much more of an observer with my photography.

I observe and wait for the right moment.

However, I cannot rely solely on observation to get good images. I have to be involved and show interest, too. Otherwise, I just feel like I’m spying on them – ha! Believe me, if they know you are interested in what they are doing, they will happily engage with you and will likely let you photograph them as much as you want.

For example, I was able to capture this image because I could hear my boys playing ping pong downstairs with their friends. We had just set the table up, and I knew I wanted to get an image of them playing, so I went down with my camera and started asking them about the game.

After a few minutes, I said I was going try to get some pictures of them. If I had started shooting without talking to them first, they may have felt like I was trying to be sneaky and would have been uncomfortable. Because I showed that I was interested first, I was able to capture a very natural moment.

As my boys transitioned out of boyhood and into their tween and teen years, I quickly realized that I needed a different approach to photographing them. Along the way, I’ve found some things that have made this mission a little easier and a little more fun.

2. Turn photography sessions into mother-son date nights

Make photography fun for both of you, and carve out some time to have some one-on-one conversation with your son while capturing great images at the same time.

Choose a couple of locations that you think might be interesting to your son. I feel like urban-like settings with lots of lines and color are great for this age. Natural settings can work, too, especially if your son loves the outdoors. Whichever type of location you choose, make sure it has plenty of opportunities for interaction and exploring.

Let your son help you choose where to go, and enjoy the outing. Afterward, have a fun dinner or dessert somewhere. They love the attention, and, let’s face it, we don’t get much time alone with them anymore. Plus you’ll have awesome photos to remember it.

I knew this location would be great for getting good images of the boys with all of the lines and colors, so when we were in Florida last year, we decided to make it a fun family evening. The bonus for them was that they got to see a live alligator, too!

As my boys transitioned out of boyhood and into their tween and teen years, I quickly realized that I needed a different approach to photographing them. Along the way, I’ve found some things that have made this mission a little easier and a little more fun.

3. Be respectful of their feelings and concerns

Be respectful of anything that boys this age might be struggling with about themselves – acne, braces, glasses, their height/weight, etc. I know it seems like boys don’t really care about these things, but I assure you that at least some of them do and may not be comfortable talking about it.

So, even if it doesn’t seem to me like it should bother them, if they’ve told me that it does, then I either shoot in a way that makes them feel more comfortable, agree not to share it anywhere, or just put the camera down.

When my son first got his braces and was getting used to them, he preferred to smile without showing his teeth. Because he had told me this, I never pushed him to do otherwise.

He is used to them now, and it doesn’t bother him anymore. But if I had pushed the issue, implying that I didn’t respect his feelings, he would have been way less likely to have let me photograph him, and I would not have this image of him that I love.

As my boys transitioned out of boyhood and into their tween and teen years, I quickly realized that I needed a different approach to photographing them. Along the way, I’ve found some things that have made this mission a little easier and a little more fun.

4. Make a list of images you would like to capture

To help me focus on this project, I wrote out a list of images that I wanted to get during this stage in their lives. I have a lot of that list memorized now, but I do look back at it often as well. This list has been so helpful in deciding if I even want to get the camera out. It also gives me something to shoot when I’m feeling uninspired.

Make a list of images that you would like to capture for your own boys during these years. Some ideas might be your boys’ interests/hobbies/sports, images that convey their unique personalities, and connections/relationships with friends and family.

Think about all of the ideas on your list and how you can photograph them in a unique or creative way.

My 14-year-old plays several different instruments, with guitar being one of his favorites. On my list was the idea to capture his concentration and devotion to learning guitar this year, so when I saw that he was practicing in some fun light, I asked if I could sit with him.

I listened for a while and then started photographing him until I found this perspective. It satisfied my idea to capture not just the guitar, but the concentration and devotion as well.

As my boys transitioned out of boyhood and into their tween and teen years, I quickly realized that I needed a different approach to photographing them. Along the way, I’ve found some things that have made this mission a little easier and a little more fun.

5. Embrace their personalities and emotions

From my own experience and from chatting with other parents, it seems pretty common that boys in this age group can be goofy, loud, and energetic in one moment and quiet, pensive and reserved in the next. I personally find that there is more of the goofy, loud and energetic end of the spectrum at our house – I mean, seriously, what is so funny???

But there are definitely days when the mood is more somber.

Instead of only picking up the camera when there are smiles and laughter, try to embrace whatever personality and temperament is present at the time.

This speaks truth about my boys and their relationship with each other. They are full of so much energy!! They are always goofy, always teasing, always laughing. And, just like here, my oldest is often completely annoyed about something his little brother has done.

As my boys transitioned out of boyhood and into their tween and teen years, I quickly realized that I needed a different approach to photographing them. Along the way, I’ve found some things that have made this mission a little easier and a little more fun.

It seems like my 12-year-old lives to be social. He wants to be around others all the time. My 14-year-old is more like me and is perfectly content being alone sometimes. He can definitely be loud and full of energy, too, but I wanted to be sure to capture the reserved side of him, also.

As my boys transitioned out of boyhood and into their tween and teen years, I quickly realized that I needed a different approach to photographing them. Along the way, I’ve found some things that have made this mission a little easier and a little more fun.

6. Be cautious in sharing online

This may be the most important thing to remember about photographing these in-between years for your boys. These years are a roller coaster of ups and downs for them in many ways.

On top of that, social media is typically a huge part of their lives, and, unfortunately, also one of the most difficult things for them to learn to navigate. One questionable photo, even if it doesn’t seem questionable to you, could provide some mean-spirited kids (or adults) with ammunition to make your boys’ middle and high school lives fairly miserable.

Before I share any images on any social media outlet, I always ask my boys for their permission.

If they don’t like an image for any reason, I just don’t share it. I want them to know that I respect them and that they can trust me. I will still keep the image for myself and print it for our personal books, but it doesn’t get shared anywhere online.

The awesome part of this process is that sometimes the boys will really love one of the photos. Then they not only allow me to share it, but they want me to send it to them so that they can share it, too. Love, love, love when they are proud of one of their images!

I’m constantly reminded of the limited time we have before these boys will be on their own, so more than anything, I hope that you can just have fun photographing these crazy years with your boys!

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7 tactics for more powerful travel photos

You’ve traveled around the world, battled jet lag and lost luggage, showered and stepped out onto an unfamiliar street, camera in hand.

Now what?

For many, it becomes instantly overwhelming – foreign languages and signs, bustling streets, every scent new, colours and textures about. You snap away but at the end of a long day, reviewing those shots, you feel they just aren’t doing it justice.

They’re snapshots. They’re “meh.”

Travel photography is a lofty term but it doesn’t need to feel out of reach. What it takes is a bit of extra planning, some mindfulness, a willingness to abandon the tourist path, and a little bit of vulnerability.

You’ll need to abandon prescribed tourist agendas, though, and push yourself to go a little further, try new things, and be open to different experiences. If you can do that, read on.

1. Learn to notice

Here’s what I see a lot of when I travel: a bus pulls up, and three dozen people unload. They walk around with their camera in front of their face and snap away until someone blows a whistle and says it’s time to go.

Everything they saw, they photographed. What they have done is successfully documented how something looked, often with sterile precision. There’s no heart behind it, no thought behind it.

You can see a place and never experience it – we’ve all done it. You can see famous sites and cross them off your to-do list, but not get a sense of the pulse of a place, the details and the people and the culture that brings it to life and makes it different from anywhere else.

Learning to notice these things will instantly improve your images. There’s no magical recipe for this but if you practice being mindful, being present, to put the camera down (gasp!) and look around, really try to notice the events going on around you.

Forget the beautiful church or the famous promenade and look for the moments happening: the woman sweeping her street in the late afternoon; the man having a cigar outside his stoop; a street musician pausing for a cold drink between songs; children prancing around a back alley; the clatter of espresso cups on marble tables.

Travel photography is a lofty term but it doesn’t need to feel out of reach. What it takes is a bit of extra planning, some mindfulness, a willingness to abandon the tourist path, and a little bit of vulnerability.

On a busy street in Pushkar, India, a man reads his morning paper. I noticed the coke signage, and the hindi language paper, and his pink headwrap all standing out to be admist the crowd, and went from there.

2. Find the good light

Now, you may think this is obvious. And from the comforts of your home, it may be. You know your seasons and where to be for nice golden light, or sunsets, or the times your city is best or not. When we travel, it’s not so easy. If you’re taking a trip specifically for yourself to make travel images, then plan accordingly: early mornings, late evenings, rest in the afternoon, understand the times of day and how the light will change. Better yet, plan your trip to avoid long, hot, and harsh summer days but find an off-season (bonus,

If you’re taking a trip specifically for yourself to make travel images, then plan accordingly: early mornings, late evenings, rest in the afternoon, understand the times of day and how the light will change. Better yet, plan your trip to avoid long, hot, and harsh summer days but find an off-season (bonus, less crowds!) that might yield better light.

However, for many people reading this, what’s actually happening is your family is taking a vacation – or perhaps non-photographer friends have invited you along on a trip, or to a wedding – and you’re hopeful to capture some “travel” shots while abroad.

This is more difficult because you’ll be working around other people’s schedules, and often these trips take place during high seasons with long, harsh sunny days. Your best bet is to turn in early, and creep out at the crack of dawn; or bid them adieu at happy hour and make your way somewhere for sunset.

If you are with family, and have kids to work around, do enlist a partner or grandparent to take over at those times of day – you may be exhausted to haul out of bed at 5am, but I guarantee you’ll find empty, golden streets and locals starting their days invigorating and thrilling once you’ve stepped out the door.

What you don’t want to do is shoot mid-day (unless it’s overcast). You’ll likely be hot, whatever you’re photographing will be shadowy and poorly lit, and probably there will be heaps of tourists in your way.

Travel photography is a lofty term but it doesn’t need to feel out of reach. What it takes is a bit of extra planning, some mindfulness, a willingness to abandon the tourist path, and a little bit of vulnerability.

By staying late in the day in a Masai village, I was able to capture portraits out of the harsh daylight and rather bathed in that glorious, golden Tanzanian sun.

3. Limit your postcards

I get it. Why travel across the world to not make the photo that you’ve looked at all your life?

The Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu – whatever monument is iconic for that place. If you have a dream of photographing these things, then go get your postcard shot (the classic image of that place).

But then, challenge yourself. How can you photograph it that’s different? Doing a bit of research on other people’s photographs before you go can help tremendously.

What’s overdone? What’s unique? On arrival (hopefully in good light!), put that noticing concept into play. Can you shoot it around a corner? In a reflection? With people in front or passing by? From higher up, or very low?

Changing your perspective can do wonders for the creative spark.

Travel photography is a lofty term but it doesn’t need to feel out of reach. What it takes is a bit of extra planning, some mindfulness, a willingness to abandon the tourist path, and a little bit of vulnerability.

A standard Masai shot would be the men jumping. Instead, I got closer and framed the shot to highlight the colourful clothes and their hands and feet.

4. Declutter your shot and know your subject

When we travel, a whole new world opens up to us and every facet of it is fascinating and draws us in. However, an image with too many elements in it feels overwhelming to the viewer, a bit chaotic, busy, and the viewer doesn’t quite know where to look or what the subject is.

If you don’t know what your subject is, your viewer won’t.

This leads to snapshots, not composed images. You can declutter by ensuring your photo has nice clean edges (no random objects poking in, chopped off limbs, half a doorway, etc), and then make sure your subject is clear (sharp, well-lit, positioned on the Rule of Thirds, and so forth).

Travel photography is a lofty term but it doesn’t need to feel out of reach. What it takes is a bit of extra planning, some mindfulness, a willingness to abandon the tourist path, and a little bit of vulnerability.

I noticed this bright blue wall and Che graffiti first. Then I worked around some parked cars and street vendors, and waited for the right moment where no cars passed by, but one little old man did. Even though there’s a person in the shot, it’s clear the subject of this image is the Che graffiti, from it’s placement, sharpness, and the fact that the man biking is blurred.

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5. Don’t shy away from the human element

You don’t even need to be “into” portrait photography to benefit from meeting locals. But if you are, making travel portraits is about breaking down walls: language barriers, cultural standoffishness (them, or you), not wanting to intrude or anger (generally you).

The trick is to ask first, photograph second. Sneaking shots generally leaves people:

  1. annoyed by insensitive tourists
  2. frustrated they didn’t know they were being photographed (would you like it?)
  3. often cluttered and disorienting shots with no clear subject because you are shooting fast (hoping you won’t get “caught”).

I will pause to add that there are those who make beautiful candid street photos, without intruding or annoying people. That just takes practice and a lot of instinct and lightning fast control over your settings and your vision for a photo (as the moments can unfold very quickly).

Candid aside, making portraits of locals isn’t scary. It takes a little bit of guts to wave hello, give a broken greeting in the local language, point to your camera, and shrug or gesture. It helps if you grin like a fool. The majority of the time people will say yes.

If they say no, so be it. If they say yes, compose quickly (so have some idea in your mind what you’re after) and here’s the step people skip: show them the photo. Bond, laugh, call them beautiful. Maybe ask for one more try, as they may loosen up after seeing what a nice photo you made.

If you aren’t into travel portraits, saying hello to locals will always still help. It will pull you away from tourist traps and into the daily, real lives of people.

They may invite you for tea – say yes. They may want to show you something you wouldn’t have known was there. They may show off their children or their home. It’s all a peek behind the curtain into real life.

This will always yield more unqiue, original images than staying on the broad and “Safe” tourist path. If you have kids, let them meet and play with local kids – that’s a great “in” to the culture too!

For both portrait-lovers and avoiders alike, adding a human element will almost always elevate a travel photo. Find a nice scene, and wait. Wait for someone to cross in front or though, and see how that adds to the moment. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised. (And generally, this doesn’t make locals feel like you’re being sneaky, as they just happen to be passing through a scene you were already making a photo of).

Travel photography is a lofty term but it doesn’t need to feel out of reach. What it takes is a bit of extra planning, some mindfulness, a willingness to abandon the tourist path, and a little bit of vulnerability.

Think asking one person for a portrait is scary? Try eight people, at 5am! And yet, they obliged me and gave me many thanks when I showed them the image.

6. Get closer

You can see where all these steps are leading now. The more you truly experience a place and be vulnerable, the stronger your images will be. One thing I notice often when teaching travel workshops

One thing I notice often when teaching travel workshops is people stay at a safe distance. The shots feel wide, empty, unintentional, and distance. Viewers of your images will sense that distance; hesitation translates easily into images. Draw them in by getting closer. Use a longer lens if you must, perhaps a wide aperture to really hone in on subjects. Try filling up your frame – forget the sky and the street, fill your frame with textured walls, fruits, signs, patterns, local writing (if another language especially). For people portraits, lean in, go for head and shoulder portraits over full body. It implies an intimacy and an intentionality to the photo.

Draw them in by getting closer. Use a longer lens if you must, perhaps a wide aperture to really hone in on subjects. Try filling up your frame – forget the sky and the street, fill your frame with textured walls, fruits, signs, patterns, local writing (if another language especially). For people portraits, lean in, go for head and shoulder portraits over full body. It implies an intimacy and an intentionality to the photo.

For people portraits, lean in, go for head and shoulder portraits over full body. It implies an intimacy and an intentionality to the photo.

In every aspect, lean into your shots both physically and with a bit of zoom. It will leave your viewer feeling your shots are purposeful, intimate, intentional details and scenes of this place.

Sure, a big wide shot of San Marco Plaza in Venice will scream “Italy,” but a close up of a weathered hand on an espresso cup down some back alley might carry more weight in the long run. Everyone has a big shot of the Plaza. Notice, learning to see those details, decluttering your shots, and getting closer – you’ll come away with stronger images every time.

Travel photography is a lofty term but it doesn’t need to feel out of reach. What it takes is a bit of extra planning, some mindfulness, a willingness to abandon the tourist path, and a little bit of vulnerability.

The eyes have it. This berber in Morocco was adorned in purple, but for me, the image was all about those beautiful eyes. Any further back and they’d have lost their dominance in the frame.

7. Practice at home

An often overlooked suggestion that makes total sense once you put it into practice. Striking out on your home turf and acting as if it’s a new place will prepare you for when you are abroad.

Skills like quick creative decision making, getting used to long days on food, cultivating your sense of exploring, getting lost, and being open to what might be around the next corner can all be honed at home, when there’s no pressure.

If you’re traveling with kids, practice with kids around. If you’re traveling with non-photographer friends, try to practice when you’re all out together – do you have the confidence to excuse yourself to make a photo, even with them all watching, for example?

If you can’t excuse yourself at home to make a photo, you’ll struggle to break away when on the road. Except on the road, there’s no do-overs usually. So if making travel photos is something you’re passionate about, practice all of the above steps at home as much as you can.

Travel photography is a lofty term but it doesn’t need to feel out of reach. What it takes is a bit of extra planning, some mindfulness, a willingness to abandon the tourist path, and a little bit of vulnerability.

Even at home, I strike out to sharpen my skills for the road. Tofino, BC.

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From the Forum: 5 steps to get started portfolio building

***This tutorial was posted on our expansive photography forum; however, we think it’s so rad that we just had to share with you, too***

Developing a strong portfolio can be an ongoing and difficult process; however, it is also rewarding and the end result is a piece of work you can be very proud of.

Portfolio building takes a variety of forms: shooting PB clients for your business, personal collection for a special project, an artistic portfolio for a book or exhibition, or a professional portfolio (i.e. for a ClickPro Application).

Step 1: Goal and Vision

Developing an artistic vision for your portfolio can become a daunting philosophical journey. Your portfolio is meant to showcase your artistic vision, but the process may feel like an exploration of self, and perhaps this wasn’t your original intention. I felt like this when I built my portfolio for Click Pro and thought, “I am trying to show myself, not find myself!” It is a bit of an internal struggle, but it is also why this process is so rewarding, no matter where you are in your journey.

I felt like this when I built my portfolio for Click Pro and thought, “I am trying to show myself, not find myself!” It is a bit of an internal struggle, but it is also why this process is so rewarding, no matter where you are in your journey.

To ease the discomfort, have a vision beforehand. Here are some questions to help you:

  • What are my strengths? Demonstrate how you stand out as a photographer. Technical skill may be required, depending on the type of portfolio you are developing.
  • What story am I trying to tell? If you are curating an artistic portfolio, you may have had a strong vision from the start. Excellent! Perhaps you are telling the story of you… where you are at presently in your skills, creativity, and vision.
  • Does my work from the last 6 months differ greatly from my work in the past year? Ensure you have enough work to showcase your current abilities. Portfolio “filler” images that don’t quite fit will make it harder to achieve your goal and will also be discovered during Step 3.
  • Who is your audience? Are you doing this for yourself or for someone else? Either answer is correct and must be determined at the start of the process.

Step 2: Curation

Your portfolio should always showcase your best work, through the eyes of your chosen audience. This can be time-consuming and challenging since you must keep an objective eye. If you are building a portfolio for the Click Pro application, you have the benefit of the Pre-Application Package. The rubric included is a great resource, even if you are just looking for ways to improve your skills in different areas.

Unlike a museum or gallery, you are curating work that is your own. One way to accomplish this is to treat it like a self-evaluation. Spend time with each image and compare it to the rubric, or to your overall vision. This introspective approach is so important to achieving your goal.

Developing a strong portfolio can be an ongoing and difficult process; however, it is also rewarding and the end result is a piece of work you can be very proud of.

Step 3: Feedback

Receive feedback from your audience. If you’re putting together a book for your family, ask your children to select some of their favorite images. If you are applying for Click Pro, join a prep group or start your own. Successful groups have a limited number of participants and general time frame for their applications.

Giving feedback is just as important as receiving it. It can help you see things in the work of others that you may have forgotten to look for in your own work and helps foster your critical eye.

Constructive criticism of your images will help determine which ones should stay and which ones should go. While some comments can be taken with a grain of salt, more often than not, people are really giving the portfolio their heartfelt consideration and wish for you to succeed!

Step 4: Revision

You spent a lot of time in step 2 really getting down and dirty with your images. But it’s not over yet! After a round of feedback, you’ll want to review your selections. Based on the feedback provided, determine which images are worth keeping. Some may require a quick edit (perhaps it had a distracting element or a heavy eye adjustment). You may also have suggestions of images on your website or IG feed to consider adding.

It is rarely the case where you are able to finalize your portfolio as soon as you’ve done the first revision. Steps 2-4 can revolve several times before you feel it’s complete. It’s a bit of an organic process this way… you are potentially working on a portfolio for several months, with several rounds of review. In that time, you may be working with clients with the rubric in the back of your mind, shooting intentional portfolio-worthy images.

Step 5: Presentation

The time will come (oh, I promise, it will!) when you decide your portfolio is complete. Whether it has been a few weeks or a few months, congratulations! You have poured your soul into the project.

Based on your vision and goal, you will have a sense of the best way to present your images. No matter what, I also suggest creating a print copy. That way, you can review it in years to come and curate a long-term look at your growth. Many photographers curate a new portfolio once a year or so. This is in the form of Flickr albums, photo books, gallery submissions, and more.

Developing a strong portfolio can be an ongoing and difficult process; however, it's rewarding and the end result is a piece of work you can be proud of.

Like what you read? There’s all this and more when you have a forum membership!

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How and why to change the point of view in a photograph

For many of us, when we begin our photography journey our first images are often “close-ups” of our babies.

Then, as they grow older, we continue shooting them from the same perspective, our perspective. Our perspective consists of us shooting mostly from in front of them.

Have you ever tried to vary your point of view? I don’t necessarily mean shooting from above, below, behind or at eye level. Even though these different perspectives add variety to your pictures, I want to invite you today to think about the point of view in the story.

I don’t necessarily mean shooting from above, below, behind or at eye level. Even though these different perspectives add variety to your pictures, I want to invite you today to think about the point of view in the story.

The point of view (POV) in photography is simply the editorial choice you make each time you take a picture, to tell and strengthen a story.

When considering the point of view from a storytelling perspective:

  • Do you want to tell a story from the narrator’s perspective, a participant’s perspective or from the viewpoint of an observer of the story?
  • Do you want the viewer to contemplate something or to be part of the action?
  • What do you want to showcase in the particular scene that you are about to capture: emotion, connection, action, quest, plot, a happy ending or struggle?

One thing that I want to emphasize is that there is no right of wrong POV because each POV will simply tell a different story. The thing that is important is to know what you want to say and then be sure your POV helps you to say it.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

Shooting to show connection: choose a POV where the eye contact or the hands are the star.

One way to illustrate connections in your story is to include eye contact or your subject’s hands in your image. The eye contact can be with you or between the people within your frame. You can achieve it by being close to your subject or at a distance, depending on what you are trying to showcase. Filling your frame with the connection can really have a deep impact on the viewer.

The eye contact can be with you or between the people within your frame. You can achieve it by being close to your subject or at a distance, depending on what you are trying to showcase. Filling your frame with the connection can really have a deep impact on the viewer.

In this picture, I wanted to highlight this new mother’s gaze and her gently touching her baby’s hair. I also loved the light that was in this bedroom and I thought it helped contribute to the connection. So instead of filling the frame, I backed up a little and showed the entire scene, carefully framing the subjects so as not to include other elements that would have been distracting. I chose to shoot this from slightly above to flatter mom’s face and showcase the delicate light on her shoulder, bringing feminity to this image.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

In this one, the point of view showcases the love and the energy of the boy. Having them so close to the camera makes the emotion almost tangible.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

Shooting from the point of view of a voyeur to show things that you are not supposed to see, good or bad!

This point of view can be achieved by shooting as if you were hidden like paparazzi. You can use a door frame, window, mirror, or foliage to shoot through to suggest that you are “peeking in” on a scene. This point of view is effective when you see something naughty, bad behavior, or when you capture a stolen moment!

In this picture, I shot through the door frame and included the door in my image to help the viewer feel that my kids are doing something out of their parents sight and more specifically, something that they are not supposed to do! (Although I did provide the water bottle on this occasion for my image)

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

Here, I was trying to get a family picture in their new courtyard. After a quick celebratory toast, they decided to kiss. Thankfully I was still holding the shutter button and stole this tiny moment.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

In this image, I didn’t want to disturb my son while he was drying his scooter. He hated my camera in those days so I preferred to hide behind the foliage. This POV allowed me to capture the concentration on his face which really added to the story.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

Shooting from behind – the tricky one!

For the last year, because our family has been living in another country, I have been very drawn to taking images of my children from behind. Why? Sometimes, it is because I want to do more of a landscape photograph and I don’t want their faces to detract from the scene.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

Or I need their back to tell the story, as shown here.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

Shooting from your point of view while being involved in the action.

In this shot, I was literally behind dad and daughter, experiencing the activity. As you can see, my camera even got soaked! That’s why for me, the story is told from a narrator’s point of view. This is, of course, a participatory image as you can almost feel the water hitting you behind your screen!

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

Shooting from below to emphasize a character in your story.

Here, instead of following the “villain”, I chose to place myself in a narrator’s point of view to focus on the emotions on their faces and to make the viewer feel something. I was also slightly below them to make my son look bigger and to be sure to get his evil expression!

Actually, this picture is my son’s favorite! He laughs aloud each time he sees it on the screensaver!

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

Shooting from a distance to capture a contemplative moment or to use the environment to add a storytelling element.

In all these pictures, I needed the environment to tell the story. Here the story is not about a connection, it’s more about an atmosphere.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

Case study 1: same point of view, two images

These two pictures are the same frame, but cropped differently.

This is the original. My first thought was to get low to capture the sun to add to the story. In my mind, the sunlight was enhancing the joy in this moment. This POV, to me, is more about the joyful atmosphere instead of focusing on their connection, even though the connection is undoubtedly there.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

Back at home, I decided to try this thigh crop, “just to see”. In my opinion, this picture really showcases their connection and the fun they were having together.

I’ve included this example to illustrate that with the exact same point of view, you can tell a different story, sometimes it is very subtle and sometimes it detracts. Choosing how much environment you put in your frame should aways be in your decision process because it can make or break your image.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

This POV, where I was slightly more on their right and shooting at sand level, broke the image. There is too much environment, bringing distracting elements into the frame and the mother’s body position is unflattering. Also, we can’t see the daughter’s face very well. In the previous shot, I positioned myself better in order to hide this distracting man!

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

Case study 2: two different POV – one sleeping baby

Although a few months between images, these photos are of the same baby in the same crib but from two different point of views.

In the first one, I was above her and using the crib as a leading line and as a framing element. My only thought when I composed this image was “she is gorgeous while she is sleeping”. Nothing more.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

In this shot, I chose to shoot very close to her and at her eye level through the cot. It created a blurred foreground that suggests dreaminess.

Each time I look at this picture, my thought is “She is so calm, lost in her dreams. I want to pat her cheek but I don’t want to wake her”. To me this is really a stolen moment.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

Case study 3: 3 perspectives on a fun moment

Finally, here is an example of 3 pictures taken within 10 seconds, capturing the same moment, from different points of view.

From behind and down low, the fun activity and movement are showcased and it emphasized the height of this human pyramid. Including the sun also contributes to the feeling of joy and happiness.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

Being in front of the subjects and at their eye level, I was able to showcase more of the action and the struggle. I chose not to include the sun, instead choosing to enhance the feeling of the “struggle”. This is a subtle difference but it does change the story.

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

From below and in front of them, the emotion and the connections are highlighted because we can see their faces and their smiles. Being below them adds some drama, enhancing their height and suggesting an increasing risk of falling over!

In this tutorial, I will show you either a single image, or a series of images of the same moment, and will discuss how the point of view strengthens the image.

On that note, I encourage you to try new points of view in a very deliberate way. When you are shooting a scene, try to give it a title and ask yourself if your actual point of view contributes to telling the story to a complete stranger. If not, what can you change?

I can’t wait to see the point of view you will choose in your story!

The post How and why to change the point of view in a photograph appeared first on Clickin Moms.


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