Sarah Wilkerson


5 Steps to Adding Depth and Complexity to Your Photos

When we think of shooting tips for new photographers, a few pieces of advice come to mind, and common among them are these:

Get closer.
Simplify your frame.

The suggestions are good ones, and they tend to go together well: the very act of coming in closer helps to simplify the composition, because it allows our main subject to fill a larger area of the frame. As artists, this approach can help us to work more deliberately by forcing us to identify the element or elements that are most important to us. We don’t just ask, “what is the subject?” We ask: “what is the best, most interesting, most important PART of this subject?” (Hint: It might be a face, but it definitely doesn’t have to be.) Get closer. Cut out everything non-essential. Fill the frame. Simplify. When you do this, your intended subject becomes more prominent and showcases rich details that we might not have noticed in a wider composition. There’s a lot to love about a closely composed photograph.(…)

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4 exercises to help you find the light

This newest challenge is deceptively simple: to identify, shoot, and produce a photograph predicated entirely on light. It’s not enough that your image has beautiful light or that you use light to enhance your subject; the goal is capture an image that integrates light in a way that is so unusual, so beautiful, or so compelling that the viewer can’t help but remark on the light itself. It doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate your normal subject matter if you wish (doing so can be a challenge in its own right), but your goal will be to ensure that the visual strength or interestingness of the light will be as noteworthy as your “main” subject (such as a person, object, or scene). (…)

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10 Tips for Creative Overhead Shooting

This month’s creativity challenge is all about changing your perspective. Approaching a subject from all sides, far, near, overhead, and beneath is a wonderful way to explore light, angles, composition, and qualities of your subject you might otherwise have missed. This month, however, we are going to focus strictly on overhead shooting, from the extreme birds-eye view to a simple standing position with the camera pointed downward.(…)

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A simple guide to breaking the rules

Rules are rules for a reason. In most cases, they promote aesthetics that we associate with artistic harmony and a pleasant viewing experience. We hear often that “you have to know the rules before you can break them.” I’d take that a step further, arguing it’s not just “what” and “how” but also “why.” You need to know the REASON for the rules of photography and design in order to break them effectively.(…)

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5 ways to shoot more like a film photographer

Have you ever been tempted to shoot film? Why, in this age of rapidly advancing technology, increasingly “smart” cameras, and the cost and convenience of digital are we still so drawn to film photography?

There really is something extraordinary about the tonality and color rendition of various film stocks — qualities some might suggest simply can’t be replicated digitally. But is there also something about the process of shooting with film itself that positively influences the creative approach? Could it be that the cost, logistics, and timeline of film photography encourage a different mindset, even a different level of commitment, from the photographer behind the camera? Does the perception that every shot “counts” help us to produce better photos? Would we shoot more deliberately if the flexibility and instant gratification of digital photography were stripped away? (…)

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9 tips for beautifully minimalist photos

“Less is more” is a phrase often attributed to German architect and designer Mies van der Rohe, and although it’s become associated with everything from brevity in writing to anti-consumerist philosophies, the roots come back to a particular visual aesthetic. With this in mind, we’ll draw our understanding of photographic minimalism from the traditional definition of minimalism as it relates to art, architecture, and design. In these contexts, minimalism traditionally refers to visual simplification, stripping all extraneous elements and details to the bare minimum necessary to present the subject. Allow “Less is More” to be your mantra as you shoot for this creativity exercise. (…)

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8 ways to create connections between subjects

[caption id="attachment_40277" align="aligncenter" width="840"] Renata Plaice[/caption]

The power of physical touch is well-documented, and within the frame, it is the obvious way to demonstrate a connection between two or more subjects — and for good reason: observing a touch tends to bring forth emotion and even convey a sensory experience for viewers. The embrace may be the first connection that comes to mind when we think about ways to capture a relationship between two subjects, but there are countless other ways(…)

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5 ways to lower your artistic inhibition

This month, we’re turning our backs on critical thinking and technical precision. Please don’t think I am rejecting the merits of deliberate shooting generally; this month’s exercise is ultimately less about what you produce and more about opening yourself up to possibilities, actively experiencing the world differently, and letting intuition overtake intellect.

[caption id="attachment_38673" align="aligncenter" width="840"] Meredith Abenaim[/caption]

As the average person matures, her mind learns to ignore the irrelevant information in her environment. Being able to tune out the irrelevant is,(…)

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lighting a subject against a dark background by Ashley Maple

6 new ways to approach backlighting

When you begin your photography journey, a common and effective piece of advice is to keep the light at your back when shooting.By keeping your camera between your subject and the light source, you are shooting in the same direction the light is shining, and if your subject is facing you, the light illuminates the subject from the front. If, however, you turn around and shoot a subject that is between you and the light source, now you are shooting(…)

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4 steps to break out of your rut

(aka “The Unplanned Diptych”)

Rather than focusing on technique or compositional principles, this month’s assignment is an exercise in observation, conceptualization, and execution. We’re going to capture a pair of images, and the key to making the most of the exercise is that you not plan too much. Be patient, embrace the process, and permit yourself to be receptive to where your art leads you. You do not have to complete the whole exercise at once and can do each step(…)

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dora sheets by KristyDooley

7 ways to capture contemporary culture with your camera

We all know that a photograph captures a moment in time, yet so often we extol the merits of a photograph’s “timelessness.” What does it even mean to shoot a photograph that is “timeless”? We define it variously as enduring, abiding, or withstanding the test of time. In characterizing a photograph as timeless, we often look to some combination of artistic style, photographic technique, story, and subject matter, asking ourselves, “Could this have emerged from any era? Is it likely(…)

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food photography from Clickin Moms members

7 unusual and creative ways to approach food photography

When we think of food photography, we often think of pristine plates and beautiful gourmet styling. Indeed, there is an entire visual art to culinary plating – something we will explore further in a creativity exercise later this year. Right now, however, we’re going to explore the inclusion of food in the frame a bit differently.

[caption id="attachment_31577" align="aligncenter" width="640"] JennyKDiaz[/caption]
Food is an an enormous part of our lives. It’s not just a physical necessity but an integral part of both(…)

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words in photographs tutorial

4 ways words in the frame make photos more memorable

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the direct incorporation of words within the frame itself can powerfully alter, influence, or enhance the viewer’s experience. Generally speaking, highly recognizable or otherwise familiar elements in an image carry the most visual weight for a viewer. For that reason, two of the most visually compelling elements you can include within a photograph are the human form (especially the face) and human language. Words in the viewer’s native tongue have the(…)

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reflections photography tutorial

8 things you need to know when shooting reflections

The reflection of light can be characterized in one of two ways. Put simply, when light hits a rough or heterogeneous surface, the light scatters back in many directions as a diffused reflection. When, on the other hand, light strikes a smooth, homogenous surface, it is reflected back in a single direction as an image; this is called a specular reflection, and it’s the mirroring effect we see against glass, water, metal, and other highly polished or glossy surfaces. Early mirrors, in fact, were manufactured from polished obsidian, copper, bronze, copper, and tin.(…)

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visual rhythm photography tutorial

4 types of visual rhythm in photography (and how to create maximum impact)

Rhythm, a critical component of music, dance, and poetry, is also a quality of great significance in the visual arts. Rhythm may affect the quality of the viewing experience for your audience and help to draw and keep the eye within the frame. Pattern can be thought of a subset of rhythm in that patterns always have rhythm, but rhythms don’t always have pattern.

[caption id="attachment_27338" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MeredithA[/caption]

Let’s take a look at a variety of rhythms in the visual arts(…)

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5 tips for beautifully deliberate underexposure

This month, we’re going to experiment with exposures that are significantly deeper than you’d normally select. Be adventurous and bold. Go beyond your comfort zone. Take what you know of “proper” exposure, and go deeper … not a third of a stop or even a full stop — but a couple of stops. See what happens! Shift your “Zones” or push your histogram towards the left. How does it affect the mood? Do you notice any new details in the(…)

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three ninjas and a little peackock | daily of the week

Have you visited the CMpro Daily Project to get your daily dose of photography inspiration? If not, it’s definitely worth checking out! The CMpros, both hobbyist and professional photographers, are uploading beautiful photographs to it every day and each week we choose a favorite, the DOTW (daily of the week). This week, this fun Halloween portrait by Sarah Wilkerson won us over. Congratulations, Sarah!

To see more of Sarah’s photography visit her website and CMpro daily images.

To view more images from(…)

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shooting from the hip photography tutorial

9 best tips to shoot from the hip

This month, try shooting from the hip. It will alter your perspective as an artist, requiring you to see the scene beyond the viewfinder; while you won’t be able to compose as deliberately, you may discover this shift in perspective and artistic freedom bring some wonderful new qualities to your images. It will also change the dynamic with your subjects in that you can connect face-to-face during shooting — or go completely the opposite way and shoot totally inconspicuously. With(…)

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creating depth with 3 planes creative photography challenge

7 ways to take pictures with depth and dimension

This month, let’s focus on creating depth in photographs by shooting images that incorporate a minimum of three distinct planes: foreground, midground, and background. Does it seem simple? It can be, but there are a number of ways you can approach this for particularly captivating results. Consider the following tips (and combinations thereof!):

1. Shoot Wide Open
Set your aperture to a low f/stop. As most photographers know, this very shallow depth of field powerfully separates the subject from the background, but(…)

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