4 Tips for Clean, Bright Photo Composition

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What would you say makes a great photo? In the photography world, we call it good composition. It’s basically how the photo is setup—are the right elements in focus? Are the colors balanced? The goal for my brand photos/Instagram feed is clean and bright. I’ve been complimented on this, and it makes me so proud!

So, let’s chat about how to accomplish a clean, bright look for your photos with a few tips to think about:

Location

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While planning a shoot, I look for locations where there isn’t a lot of  clutter in the background. Murals make beautiful backdrops for photos, but it may not be ideal for the clean look you’re trying to achieve. Also, little to no props help with this.

But at the same time, it doesn't have to be an exotic location with lots of scenic places to shoot. I've found some of the best backdrops are in the corner of a long road, a pretty standalone tree next to an office building or a white wall behind a restaurant. Scouting locations can be fun, so get out there and find the perfect spot for your photo!

White space

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This can be physical white space around the subject such as a white wall or concrete, like a sidewalk. But it’s also the extra space in the photo that isn’t occupied—imagine a photo of a woman standing on the shore of the ocean, surrounding by water, sand and a sunset. Wearing white or neutral, or a solid bright color always seems to give off a clean look with no effort.


Lighting

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I’m sharing from a perspective of natural sunlight, as that’s what I specialize in. Shooting in “even light” is a nice start for creating a clean, bright photo. Harsh sunlight can produce unwanted shadows, so it’s important to shoot in the shade or when the light is the softest (this is called golden hour, which is an hour before sunset or the hour after sunrise.)

Camera settings and editing

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After you choose the perfect location, the best time of day and the perfect outfit, it’s the photographer’s job to deliver the finished product. I personally don’t do a ton of editing, as I like to create photos that look as natural as possible. I love a pretty filter, but it can sometimes take away from the natural elements of the photo. So, I like to do all of the important edits if you will, in camera.  

Without getting too technical, shooting in manual mode allows more control of the photos. I usually start at 1/125 shutter speed, 1.8 aperture and 1/100 ISO. This usually sets up a nice, bright photo (I’ll adjust the shutter speed and ISO for exposure) and the aperture blurs the background. 

I’ll then edit in Lightroom for further exposure adjustments, color correction, contrast, white balance and sharpening.

What are your tips for clean, bright photos? Share with us in the comments! 

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