TFawls's blog

3 simple steps to better photos

posted by TFawls, May 13, 2013 11:36 AM — 2 comments

I wrote the following in response to a request for help from a sculptor who wanted to take his own portfolio photos of his "too-large-to-bring-to-an-interview" creations. He had sent a few of his images and he was rightly concerned that they did not show his work in the best light (in other words, while his sculptures were great, his photos were horrible!).

And while this was written to one person about a few specific photos, I think the advice is valid for anyone trying to improve their photos. So take a few minutes to read through this short blog, then grab your camera and go practice! And don't forget to post your best works here at FawlsPhoto's Facebook page.

Actually, I do have just three rather simple suggestions that I think will improve the look of your portfolio immensely:

1. Watch the backgrounds. Many of the images of your work you've posted in your portfolio have cluttered backgrounds. These can be distracting, taking the viewers' focus off the work of art and reducing the overall impact your work should have. The blue tarp was a step in the right direction (BLOG NOTE: in an attempt to better highlight his work, my artist friend had placed some of his works on a bright blue plastic tarpaulin), but when you use it, frame your image so that the edges of the tarp are not showing (see #2 for more on this). And while I love the tarp idea, I think the color is a bit too harsh for your subjects (your art) might consider getting a more neutral color - I've used an old tan or white colored bed sheet for similar's cheap and puts the focus back onto the subject.

2. Framing the shot. Sort of a follow-on to the background thing; fill the frame as much as possible with the piece you're shooting. If you've got a zoom, move it so that the edges of the piece are just inside the edges of the camera's viewfinder. If you don't have a zoom, you'll have to move closer or farther away to fit it.

Also, because your work has intricate details that may not be readily seen from a distance, in addition totaking shots of the whole piece, take some shots of specific details within the piece; adjusting framing (as explained above) to best highlight the detail being shot.

(BLOG NOTE: This works for anybody shooting any subject - Wide shots are OK once in a while, but the really interesting shots show details. In other words: GET CLOSE; THE CLOSER THE BETTER!!!)

3. Lighting. try to be aware of shadows and bright spots. Whenever possible, the entire piece should be receiving the same lighting. When shooting with natural light,this means that you should move the piece so it is entirely in the sunlight or entirely in shadow. If you can bring artificial light onto the subject (I've used shop lights for this purpose), try to light the piece so there are no (or as few) harsh shadows as possible.

(BLOG NOTE: If you're outdoors and your subject is in the shadows on a bright sunny day, try using your flash to add some light onto the subject. You'll be surprised how much it improves the shot!)

All these things are really easy to do,you've just got to train your eye to see what the viewfinder in the camera sees. It might help if, when you're shooting your pics, you try to set the piece up as if you were preparing a gallery, background and framing are all pretty important there, too. :-D

Anyway, I think you do some great work...and I think with these simple things, that will become even more apparent in the images you post.

And if I can be of any help, let me know. I can be reached here or via e-mail at

Tom Fawls

Comments | RSS

1. posted by Eduard5407, May 14, 2013 7:57 AM

Never could smile in my photos...

2. posted by Car_lover, May 31, 2013 2:33 PM

Eduard5407, why so serious?

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