Tips & Tricks

Photography tips from megan ambrose

November 16, 2015

Hi! Megan here, Shoni has asked me to share some photography tips to capturing your events. I’ve noticed bloggers take a bit of heat these days for making life look just a little too perfect, too staged. We all know there is more to what you see in a photo — the mess you shoved in the closet… the tantrum your kid threw right before their party. But, ultimately I want a collection of photos that helps me focus on the good stuff more than the not-so-good-stuff. When you’re considered in your approach to capturing your life (avoid the clutter, have a focus point, brighten them up) you remove the distractions and are left with the important stuff. Or the flip side, at least the tantrum photo looks pretty.

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Let’s start with the basics.

1. Edit & Organize.

I’m not sure I know anyone, parents especially, who aren’t a little overly snap-happy in the moment. When we do pull out our phones for a photo, we tend to take 10 in a row of the same shot. There is such a thing as too many photos. If you don’t curate and delete the duds, you (or your kids in the future) will be so overwhelmed by sheer quantity, no one will ever look at them. And isn’t that the whole point? My tips: try and curate your photos immediately following a big event or vacation, when you’re still on a bit of a high from it. Be drastic in your edits. Keep the best of the best and a variety of type of shots so you can tell the whole story of your event / vacation / etc. Especially if you have a LOT of photos. It might hurt to hit delete, but I promise promise promise you will not remember the photos you got rid of in like a day.

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2. Enhance.

Now that you have your photos culled down, there are great apps you can enhance them with right on your phone. Just a little bit of brightening can make a so-so photo that much more visually lustful & natural. In the below example, I used PicTapGo to brighten and then I brought it into VSCO for contrast and added a little bit of fade. There are TON of editing apps, play around and then stick with just your favorites. If you get the habit of regularly tweaking photos, it will become muscle memory. My go-to recipe tends to be brighten + contrast + fade. I don’t use a ton of filters as I’m trying to bring out the best of the photo (and the memory!) not alter it entirely.

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Now let’s talk about capturing the photos. Overall, I like to approach event photography like telling a visual story. Sure, it’s nice to have some staged photos of guests at the event (ie. ‘get together! say cheese!’) but it’s equally nice to capture the details (decorations, table setting, flowers, etc.) that you put so much work into, plus some portraiture of the guest of honor, and candids. When you put all those photos together in say a photo book, blog post or Facebook album, you get a really nice feel (and memory) of what the event was actually like.

3. Plan for photos.

When you host a birthday party, or dinner, or event, schedule photos into your preparation before guests arrive. You don’t want to worry about taking too many photos during your actual event, you want to enjoy it! So snap them ahead and check it off your list. I set my Thanksgiving table first thing when I woke up. I was able to photograph it in nice morning light & it was so much nicer to look at (and less stressful!) than table full of clutter while cooking in the kitchen all day.

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4. Consider backgrounds & settings.

Most events have some natural photo op moments – ie. cutting the cake. Have a nice background for those moments – it can be natural, like below, or more elaborate setup like the haystacks on Halloween, the point being in the rush of the moment you don’t want to end up with trashcans in the background. Cluster decorations into “settings” that you can photograph guests enjoying naturally.

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5. Photo Props.

Double up your decor as photo props. Things people can wear make for fun photos!

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6. Mix up your Angles.

Shoot table decor from above. Capture the food you served. Pretty wrapped presents. Tight shots, some wide shots. Let your subjects breath every now and again with the scene (or lack of scene!) around them. Leave objects/people in the foreground for texture. Variety is nice!

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7. Go Black and White.

Finally, if your lighting isn’t the best, or very yellow, consider making it black & white.

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