Why do your images pop?

I get asked this all the time from photographers via email and facebook.   They want to know how I make my images “POP” in photoshop.  Well, I will let you in on a few little secrets.  It really has nothing to do with photoshop.  There, I said it.  So what is the big secret?  Lighting, composition and lens choice.  A lot of new photographers think that OCF (Off Camera Flash) is something relative new when photographing outdoors, but really it’s been around for longer than I have been alive.    It is the exact same thing as lighting inside your studio.  Nothing changed.  So why do I see a lot of photographers still not getting it right?  Getting your flash off camera is simple, but it’s not the only thing you need to do.  Placement of your lights is KEY, using different ratios of output is KEY, and placing your subjects in their environment so that they compliment it (not blend into it) is KEY.  Note:  Placing your lights at different angles to your subject will create shadow, shadow equals depth and dimension.  Take note of that, it’s very important.  Anyone can place their flash off camera beside the camera, yes it’s OCF but you really are not doing yourself any favors.  You want your subject to POP out of the image, away from the background, not blend in it.

This is unacceptable. My mom can do this.


I always try to light my subjects faces so that they have some dimension to them, I also like to rim-light them so that they are separated from the background (hair and clothing), and then I will try to light the background so that it is not distracting, but compliments my subject completing the image.

Take the time and “build” the image.


Lens choice is another big factor in having your subject pop out of the frame along with what Fstop you want to work with, but another easy trick is to just have your subject as far away from the background as possible.   When you bring all these elements into the “picture”  there is very little to do in post processing.  Like the above.  All I did was a little contrast boost, sharpen and some slite burning of the bottom of the image.  That’s it.

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