Photography ~ From Beginner to Beyond

5 Things to Consider When Setting up Your Shot

by Michelle Arnold 11.11.2016


Lime Margarita Fools

~ Aesthetics

This word represents the nature of the beauty in your art. Yes, your images are art and they express your unique point of view of the world. It is great if you can appreciate another’s aesthetic, but it is even better if you can appreciate others, and still love your own work. Some people produce vibrant, full-frame, in-focus scenes. Others are great at creating dark, mysterious, blurred images that make you long to know what’s just outside the frame. Both are fantastic points of view, both are in demand, and both have a place in the photography world. But rarely do both come from the same artist. Finding your style is important. Your audience and clients will demand to know what they can expect from you before putting energy into building a relationship with you, whether it’s as simple as following you on social media, or as complex as a partnership of legalities and deadlines.


Red Candied Apples

~ Color

Did you know that there is a science to combining colors?

There are complementary colors such as green and red, and blue and orange. These colors are on opposite sides of the color wheel. They have a high contrast and are aesthetically appealing. The Christmas holiday is not represented by green and red by happenstance.


Raspberry Cordials ~ Cheers!

Analogous colors are found next to each other on the color wheel. They are pleasing and soothing to the eye. We know this because they are frequently found in nature. A forest of trees have a range of leaf colors starting with bright yellow-green and go all the way to the dark blue-green and it often creates a sense of peace.

Triad is made of three colors evenly spaced around the color wheel, such as the hues of green, purple, and orange. The combination of triad colors, no matter which ones you choose and what hue you go with, will nearly always create a vibrant image. These bright colors pair well with both white and black. You will find this combination of colors often used in Halloween decorations.

Split Complementary colors are used in place of the extreme contrast of complementary colors. With this combination the analogous colors are paired with the main color. It’s not as complicated as it may sound so let’s go over an example. We’ll start with the color blue. Blue’s complementary color is orange. The Analogous colors for orange are yellow-orange to the left and red-orange to the right; therefore, the Split Complementary colors to blue are then yellow-orange and red-orange. It is suggested that beginners start with these combinations as it isn’t as critical to use the exact proportion when using these colors.

A rectangular combination of colors is the use of four colors that create a rectangle of drawing a line from a point in each color on the color wheel. There are rules that are commonly followed when using this combination, such as keeping it to 2 pairs of complementary colors. For example, red, green, orange, and blue create a rectangle combination. You may be more successful using a rectangle combination if you use 2 warm colors and 2 cool colors in your image.

Lastly, I’ll mention the square combination. Again, it’a a combination of 4 colors, only these will create a square if linked from a point on the color wheel. Think back to elementary school when everything you colored had red, green, blue, and yellow, and you loved it.


~ Mood

Photographic images are stories without words. Everything about them from the subject, to the colors, to the brightness set the mood to the story. The mood can draw a viewer in or turn them away. Creating an image that is appealing or interesting simply cannot be accomplished without evoking a feeling in your viewer. People want a connection with your photograph. They want it to have meaning or a purpose. Plan the story you want your image to tell and create expressive images that evoke an emotion. Go for delight, curiosity, motivation, or even sadness. You have the ability to get people to take action by simply creating images for them to view. What do you want people to do, solve a problem, eat healthier, take on a project, or plan a party?


Raspberry Party

~ Monochrome

Monochrome refers to black & white images or images with tones of one color. Without color as a wow factor contrast, textures, and shapes become more important. Sometimes it can be fun to remove all but one color in an image like I did in the spicy martinis below. This idea can be a little gimmicky so make sure there is a good reason for doing it. (The only reason I did it for the picture below is because every picture in this blog has some red, and I thought it was important that this one did too. Plus, if you’ve read my first blog you will know that I love a “dash of red”)

Colors with low contrast; such as the complementary colors of green and red that are so coveted in color images, become too similar when converted to the shades of grey used in black & white imagery, and the result will more likely be bland. Focus on high contrast colors.

The finer details of textures really stand out in monochrome images such as the pepper flakes used to rim the stemware below. The milky smoothness of the beverage itself becomes more important than it was when it had a yellow hue

Shapes suddenly become dominant when color isn’t present. In this image we have many 90 degree angles in the background making the triangles of the stemware really stand out.


Chili Pepper Martinis

~ Rules

There is plenty of good advice for photographers out there, but you do NOT have to follow all the advice you come across. They are not rules; however, it’s not practical to go against everything the experts are trying to tell us. Small changes at a time may lead you to a great result. One best practice to follow is not to break a “rule” until you understand why the rule is in place. Once you have that understanding you may be able to break away from the norm and still achieve all the desired principles. For example, everybody “knew” that it wasn’t wise to shoot into the sun; however, it is now wildly accepted idea. Photographers have found a way to use the blown out portions caused by sunlight to enhance the story being told.


~ What do you think about when setting up a shot?

~ Was this blog helpful? Your comments are much appreciated.

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