Taking “Perfect” Photos

One of the questions I get asked all the time is,

“How do you get such perfect photos all the time?”

I always have to laugh because

I do not get perfect photos all the time!

I get lots and lots and lots of bad photos. If I import 200 photos in Lightroom, I will probably delete 150 of them. That’s150 not perfect photos and 50 still-not-perfect photos.

Don’t you just love this “perfect” photo? My daughter with her hands on her face (which she did in every single photo) and my son trying to get to the birthday balloons. Yep, perfect.

This mistake is in thinking that when I post photos, it was like I magically stepped out, clicked the shutter once, and then posted the photo. However, that is far from reality!

Getting “perfect” photos requires more than a shutter click and an upload.

Before I give you a few tips on getting perfect photos, I need to be clear on one thing: perfection is not my goal. Even if it was, my “perfect” and your “perfect” might mean two different things. For one photographer, “perfect” might mean perfect exposure. For another, it might be perfect focus. For another, perfect color. For another, perfect connection with the subject. The term “perfect” is arbitrary.

Now with that out of the way, here are a few ways that I get “perfect” photos:

1. I know my definition of perfect. Although I shoot (no pun intended) for great focus and exposure, connection to my subject and capturing the real moment is far more important to me. If a photo is perfectly focused but failed to capture who my children really are, I don’t care about it. I would much rather have a soft-focus that oozes personality than tack-sharp eyes and an expression I have never seen before.

2. I take lots of photos. And by lots, I mean lots. For special occasions especially, I would never settle for just taking a few photos. One of the advantages of digital photography is that we can take hundreds of photos in search of one or two great ones. It costs us nothing but our time. I will often take hundreds of photos, keep two or three, and toss the rest.

3. I’ve learned basic photography and editing skills. It always helps to get a photo correct in camera (exposure, etc.) I have learned a lot about how my camera and lenses work and from practice, I have learned to make them work for me. I am also very comfortable in my editing style and approach which helps me make a photo look like the feelings in my heart.

4. I am patient. When you are trying to get a great photo, it is easy to try too hard and end up making everyone miserable in the process. Instead of yelling and telling people, “Look here!” and “Do this!” I wait for the moment to happen. The patience pays off.