How Do We Take Pictures That “Wow” Viewers?

by | Mar 3, 2017 | Tips & Tricks | 0 comments

Ben, a “client” from SharpeningCharacter who has recently been requesting specific photos through Lenspiration’s PRO Shoot to Serve forums,  wrote up a story behind how he put together the VersePic for “Seek Ye First”. (You can read the entire thing here.)

However, I wanted to comment on the parts that I thought pertained to us photographers. Listen to his perspective. I think it will help us be better photographers.

Here’s the shot Ben chose from Pixabay to use for his “Seek Ye First” VersePic:

pic 1

Take a good look at that picture. What would it take for you to be able to shoot pictures like this? A hike in a wild place, of course. But beyond that. It’s a fairly simply photo, right?

I love this photo. Period. There’s a breadth to the shot that amazes me! I also love the use of light here, where the haze on the mountains and the distance just turns to a white sky. I say I found this photo, but really, it sort of it was more of a “Wow! I desperately need this in a VP!” moment. That photo was so perfectly edited and shot by the photographer, I didn’t need, or want to edit it all all, so I didn’t.

So how do we take pictures that “wow” viewers? Especially viewers who are potential clients? Here are a few random ideas from my quick analysis of this shot: 

  • There is one clear subject: the hiker. There’s no doubt in my mind what the subject is from the very moment I lay eyes on the shot.
  • The subject is well defined, dark against the light background. Excellent contrast.
  • The subject is what is properly exposed for. Achieving a high dynamic range is not always necessary for impressive pictures.
  • There are many, many leading lines pointing directly to the subject
  • The scene is composed such that there is more “light weight” space on the left than there is “heavy-weight” substance on the right, creating a pleasing, restful visual balance.
  • It’s sort of a cluttered scene, but has been composed simply, to only include what is most important. The scene surrounding the subject the eye can explore if it wants to, but eventually, it always just goes back to the subject.
  • Notice how Ben said there’s “breadth” in the shot. I think this is because he feels a sense of depth created by a dark foreground and a middle-ground that sweeps into the vast background.
  • And for Ben’s situation, there was plenty of open space for a designer to incorporate text into. Remember this when shooting for stock.

Those are just my thoughts from looking at it a few seconds. Personally, I’m not a fan of how the shot was edited, but there’s something to be said for the dynamic composition of the scene.

Look for these elements next time you’re on vacation in a wild place, and perhaps you’ll have something just as “wow” to submit for the next VersePic!

pic 2

Just for kicks, here are a few thoughts on designing the VersePic Xplaination:

Dark text is always a challenge to work with, as the struggle for contrast balance and a feeling of natural color is one that can often be hard to create. Solutions I’ve used in the past have been to use very specially colored drop-shadows, lower the opacity below 100% (80% usually looks pretty good!), or to try and find a good color from the image itself using an eyedropper tool. I went with the eyedropper option here, grabbing a great dark bluish color from the hiker’s backpack. Because of the fantastic lightly colored and lightly detailed background, the text popped easily without the slightest bit of a drop-shadow, and looked much cleaner that way too, so I left that alone.

And for the sake of time:

If you have to do tons of editing to make a photo work, you’d probably be better off using a different one. The thought I want to emphasize here from that phrase, however, is not that if the going gets tough you should just give up and try something else, but rather that we need to be aware of our limitations. My limitation here was time.

And a final word on something that will help for shooting specifically for the VersePics:

I wanted to show you how VersePics are used on mobile devices, and hopefully that will both answer a lot of questions on why I need the photos I need, and also why VersePics are so useful for memorizing and meditating on God’s Word. The photo below should hopefully explain everything, but if it doesn’t, head over to the newly designed VersePics section on our website,

pic 3

an iPhone 6s and 6s Plus with our specially formatted “Phone” size of two different VersePics

Looking forward to the next VP assignment. You never know when it will be posted. Join PRO to be alerted when the next image request comes in.

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