How to Create Compelling Photos
Photography is key in drawing the viewer to the content. A page with just text is much less enticing than one with photos. Compelling photos will grab the attention of readers and pull them into your story. Composition, timing (as in capturing just the right moment) and use of light are important components to be considered.
In general, we require our photos to be:
- Clean, vibrant, well-lit images of professional quality (not snap shots)
- Contemporary (unless noted otherwise)
- Spontaneous / real and less like generic stock
- Representative of a wide range of ages and ethnicities
- Non-risqué, non-pornographic, non-sexually explicit, and non-obscene/lewd.
- Free of any violent behavior
Here are a few basic tips for taking your photography to a more advanced and dynamic level:
Tips for photographing people
Subjects are usually self-conscious in front of the camera at first and often relax as they become comfortable with you and with being photographed. So extending the photo shoot beyond just a few shots will allow you to get more spontaneous images. This is similar to starting your interview with lighter questions to get your subject relaxed enough to be themselves or reveal information in the latter part of the interview.
Take the time to shoot a mix of shots. This will give photo editors more options and will spark your visual creativity.
- Photograph some tight, close-up shots as well as some loose, farther-away shots.
- Get detail shots. Photograph someone's hands or eyes or objects or parts of objects relevant to the story.
- Ask your subject to sit/stand in a couple different spots, in front of different backgrounds, and in different poses, facing different directions.
- Photograph from different angles. If you are photographing a child, crouch down to their level. Try moving from one side of the subject to the other; or even standing higher to find an interesting angle.
- Look for interesting gestures and body language to make the images more expressive.
Choosing the right background can give the viewer additional information about your subject and story, but selecting the wrong one can completely distract them.
- Find a clean, simple background that will not draw the viewer's eye away from the subject. Look for uncluttered walls, areas of solid color or backgrounds with a uniform pattern.
- Avoid backgrounds with many objects competing for attention, signs (unless they are relevant to the photo) or areas with busy patterns.
- Look specifically for lines or objects that might appear in a photo to stick out of someone's head or body.
- If you know how to modify your camera's aperture setting, you can use a shallow depth of field to blur out distracting backgrounds.
Instead of placing your subject in the middle of the frame, facing forward, try placing them slightly off to one side, turned a bit to one side. Be careful not to cut off body parts like hands, parts of the head or feet.
Avoid placing your subject directly in front of a window, where they will be backlit (you will end up with a silhouette.) Instead, place someone next to a window, turned slightly toward the window and photograph them using the window light for a dramatic effect.
If you are photographing someone outside in the middle of the afternoon and/or in bright sunlight, turn your flash on. This is called "fill flash" because it will fill in the shadow areas created by the direct sun, and will show the detail in your subject's face.