Hi again everyone!
This is Kay's assistant, Joseph, with the #1 of my top 5 Tips to Better Photographs. But before I get to that, I just wanted to tell you a little bit about my background:
I am not a professional photographer, and have taken no formal photography courses (actually when I first started college I was going to major in Painting and Drawing with a minor in Philosophy...eventually got my B.A. in Psychology with Philosophy minor. I did grow up with photography, as my mother's father, Wyman Parr, opened a chain of camera stores in Dallas starting in the 1950's (Parr's Cameras). By the time he died, both my father (Martin Bros. Cameras) and mother (The Camera Store, Inc.) owned one of his stores. Times change and now the stores are all gone. But what I learned lives on in my photography......and a lot of what I have learned has been trial and error, and reading.
So don't think that what I know is the result of some specialized education. If I can improve my photography, so can you.
Ok, so without further adieu, here's my #1 Tip, and just like in retail they say success is all about "Location, Location, Location", my Number One Tip is....
Composition, Composition, Composition
Nothing makes your photos come alive more than a good composition. Composition directs our eyes and tells them what to look at. Bad composition leaves your pictures uninteresting to the eye. When I was taking art coursework many years ago, we were taught The Principles of Design. I won't explain every one of them, but they are:
When I go to photograph a house, I first think of the lighting conditions and camera settings I'm likely to use. After that everything is about mentally noting how do I want to compose the shots., before I even look through the viewfinder. I look for angles and views that will create interest. I think too manny realtors I have known confuse staging with composition, but the truth is that a well staged house with poorly composed shots will look worse than a badly staged house well-composed.
I pride myself on the ability to work around almost anything people have in a house without having to move things around.....kid's toys, dog cages, cluttered desks. In this picture:
Just to the right of the picture were two huge dog cages. I'd always much rather move myself than objects, if at all possible. Call me lazy.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind in Composing Shots
1. Whether horizontally or vertically, do not divide the picture in exactly two equal halves...leave just a little more above or below the midpoint line. It may seem counter-intuitive, but putting the horizon above or below the midpoint will "feel" visually more solid and stable:
2. Look for unusual angles or views to create interest and make people look longer. We look longer at images that look less familiar:
3. Use perspective to create sense of space and height. I often shoot pictures with the camera about 2-3 feet off the ground, looking upward. Often for Master Baths, I shoot them at the level of the vanity:
4. Interest is often created in compositions by putting the main subject just slightly off-center, rather than perfectly centered, as long as you keep balance in the composition:
I could have shot this from directly in front of the mirror above the mantle, with the mantle in the center, and the chairs symmetrical on either side of the mantle; or with the huge window dead centered
I thought it would be more interesting to shoot with the small table just right of center, with the left side of the window acting as a counter-balance. The open space and low bar to the far left balances the high mirror to the right. Also notice the line of the floor is below the midline, and the horizon line is slightly above the midpoint.
Hopefully these Top 5 Tips have been helpful. I'll leave you with a couple of my personal photos from around McKinney, Texas: