I recommend taking photography classes and private photography sessions. I did both, and I’ll tell you about one online video chat session with Leanne Cole, a blogging friend/photographer from Australia. Practice without instruction means I make the same mistakes over and over.

To prepare for the session I:

  1. Emailed Leanne my goals, picking troublesome problems that occur often.
  2. Picked my BEST pictures, resized them to 600 X 400 pixels so I could email 16 of them in one email.

Because she could see me as much as I could see her, I had to prepare myself as well. If you ever take a lesson this way I have some advice for you:

  1. Wear a baseball cap all day because you didn’t wash your hair.
  2. Don’t video chat before 9:00 p.m. after your make-up has relaxed a bit.
  3. Get your pet (s) out of hiding.  They love to appear on the call.  Leanne wore her cat around her neck! Puppy Girl stayed in my lap.

Now on to what I learned in that lesson. Here’s one photo we talked about.

Avila Barn guy

Leanne’s advice:

  1. The photo is better if light is the same on the face.  Flecks of sunlight on someone’s face detracts from the child’s natural good looks.
  2. Watch feet and other distractions in the background.
  3. Bright sun is a killer in photos.  Your eyes go to the brightest part of an image.
  4. Shoot at same eye level as kids.

Possible solutions – some of which I need to practice.  Leanne actually did these things to the photo so I coud see how to do them and what a difference it made.

  1. Crop the picture, but only if you can do it without ending up with a square picture.
  2. Select the light parts-highlights and darken them, and the shadows and lighten them.  There are several ways to do this, and she used “raw photo”.  Pronounced in American as “roll” photo.  I was wracking my brain to figure out what a roll photo was.  That was the first time we had heard each other.

Avila Barn guy

Cropping went well.  I used the magic wand to delete the feet in PS 6, and you can see what I got.

I have since switched back to a simpler program, Photoshop Elements 10.

  1. I cropped the photo, then resized it to 4 X 6 inches.
  2. I mistook the  Healing Brush Tool for the Clone Tool, so of course, it did not work.
  3. Undeterred I took the Smudge Tool and smeared the legs out of the background.
  4. That was kind of weird, so I weirded out some of the rest of the background as well hoping that people with think I had blurred the background on purpose with the camera.
  5. I added text.

Take home advice from Leanne’s lesson – think before you shoot.  Composition, composition, composition!