How to Improve Your Pictures Without Editing

A good picture starts with its composition not necessarily the editing. And even if you are doing a lot of photo editing, poor composition means a lot of wasted time in Photoshop, sorting out issues that you could have taken care of just by improving the lighting when originally snapping the shot.

I’ve mentioned a bunch of times in the past that I do not have a DSLR. I have a point and shoot camera that I use for all of my photographs on this blog and, my improvements come from both the composition and the editing I do for each picture. It’s extra work that a DSLR would do for me, but on a college student budget – I’ve got to work with what I got.

different types of lighting

First things first – the lighting. 

Feel free to disagree, but I think that artificial lighting is basically a death sentence to a picture. If you look at the pictures above, the difference between the artificial and natural lighting is astounding. The artificial light makes the lip butter looked washed out and unattractive, while the natural light brings out the natural qualities of the product, making it appear more life like.

But, that doesn’t mean all natural lighting works the same.

sun lightingstyling

The difference between the two pictures above is direct and indirect lighting. The first picture is directly in line of the sun and catching the shadows of the outdoors. Meanwhile, the second picture is indirectly absorbing the light by being slightly out of the sun – giving a natural, full image.

This principle works with most subjects – especially when taking pictures of yourself or other people. Nothing looks more flattering than natural light.

macro vs non macro

Next up is macro versus manual. If you have a point and shoot camera, the macro setting could be your new very best friend. Macro sets up the camera for up-close subjects, while manual doesn’t expect you to be photographing something so close to the lens and blurs out as a result.

On my camera, the macro setting is a little tulip looking flower, and it’s basically a lifesaver when taking pictures. It gets rid of that horrible blur and allows me to take close-up images of makeup products which are typically rather small.

scrapbook back picture scrapbook

Lastly, is the background composition. I use scrapbook paper in the background of almost every picture of products on this blog. If you get a big pack, it’s the easiest way to have a distinctive variety of backgrounds without tapping out the same two or three backgrounds over and over again. Also, if you are using Photoshop, having a repetitive background image behind your product, makes it easy to use content aware if you need to expand the frame.

And, the best thing about using paper in the background is that you don’t have to worry about cleaning up background clutter in the shot because there is none. You just close the book when you’re done.

Additionally, if you are interested in other blog photography tips, I did a post on How-To Edit Photos to Make People Think You Have a Good Camera back in October.

Do you have a point and shoot or DSLR?

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7 thoughts on “How to Improve Your Pictures Without Editing

    • Sam March 4, 2014 / 12:00 pm

      Yeah – it totally helps. :) I have a couple scrapbook books too, which helps me switch it up a bit.

  1. Alyx March 4, 2014 / 11:05 am

    I have a DSLR, but I trick I still sometimes use is a manila folder covered in tin foil to reflect light (just make sure the foil is as smooth/flat as possible or you’ll get weird light reflections). It helps even out natural light if you’re dealing with a window situation, and reflected light is always a little softer and more flattering anyway.

    • Sam March 4, 2014 / 12:01 pm

      That’s smart. If the light is really bad, I will reflect with a mini white trifold board I got from Walmart. I should just invest in a soft box light eventually so I can take pictures at night too.

  2. Just Jona March 4, 2014 / 12:46 pm

    I found this very helpful – thank you for sharing! My biggest issue right now is taking eye photos and getting the colors to show. :/

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