Spring is here and everyone is out sprucing up their yards and painting things that had a tough winter. Volunteers have been cleaning up the river banks and the city is hauling away the remnants of our spring cleaning. We all want to put our best foot forward and look our best for others and pictures are a fine example.
Some of you may remember back in the old days, before cooties were a problem, the photographers gave out combs on picture day. It was part of trying to look our best for the camera.
A great photograph can create a good or bad impression. On a dating website, a great photo can make the difference between meeting the love of your life or possibly an axe murderer. On a menu, a great photo can persuade you to spend your money on a nice meal or send you down the street to another restaurant. With the election coming up, politicians are good examples of great and not so great photographs. Some have very professional photographs and others look like they were taken in a photo booth.
I've done an unscientific study over the years and noticed that most of the time the candidate with the best photo wins. Successful businesses use great photographs to their advantage, too. A professional photograph is a must if you are a sales person. It is well worth it to spend a few bucks on a professional photograph if it results in increased sales for the company and added commission to your pay check.
It's not hard to tell a photograph taken by a professional photographer and a professional fauxtographer. Anyone can snap away and get a good shot now and then, but the knowledge of proper posing and lighting are critical to make a flattering photograph every single time.
A great way to learn about posing and lighting is to simply pay attention to the people around you and how the light falls on them. Take a lamp or a flashlight and find someone to sit still in front of you while you move around them with the light. Take a few pictures as you go and see if you can tell the difference. After some practice, you will notice that people look better when they sit a certain way and in different types of lighting. Like practicing a sport will make you a better athlete, practicing your lighting and posing will make you a better photographer.
(Brent Kepner is the owner and photographer at Foto 1 Pro Photo in Elkins. He is a Master Photographer, Certified Professional Photographer and past president of the Professional Photographers of West Virginia.)