Guest Post: Photographing Details


To continue our weekend focus on those pretty little details, here is another incredible guest post from Kira of Kira Noble Photography. This article teaches the amateur photographer how to turn those decent pictures into works of art. Be sure to head over to Kira’s website and show her some love.

Details, details, details! I have noticed that in the past few years the detail elements of a wedding day have become increasingly important to brides, wedding planners and photographers. If you look at any wedding style blogs, like Style Me PrettyOnce WedGreen Wedding Shoes and countless others, the photography featured revolves around how to implement fantastic detail and intricacy into a wedding or event.

As a wedding photographer I realized that I needed to learn quickly how to take the kind of photos that would highlight and pay tribute to the details every bride, florist and wedding coordinator spend countless hours creating.
Of course at the end of the day, the photo of the “first kiss” is more important to my client than the cool photograph of the cupcake tower or bouquets. However, details seam together the story of the day, revealing something about the bride and groom, and hopefully reminding them of the depth of their wedding day.

Although I have certainly not mastered how to take detail shots, I have learned a lot in the past few years and thought I would share some specifics of what I’ve learned here with you. Even if you’re not a photographer these techniques can apply to any detail photo you may want to take. From taking photos of your latest creation in the kitchen, to the flowers blooming in your garden to the next event you attend or host.

1) Find good light- The first thing to do is make sure you have great natural light. Seriously, light can make the difference between a mediocre photograph and a photo that makes you sigh! Sometimes this will mean moving the object of your photograph from its original location (if possible) to a location with better light. The photo below is from a wedding I recently shot. I was taking photos of the reception details and took this photo of the tiered cookie stand. The first one was taken in the afternoon (before anyone came into the reception) and I didn’t have time to move it to better light. It is dark and although it works, it is not the best photo. Later in the evening the room was filled with lovely light and I got this photograph of the same detail.

2) Remove anything distracting- I learned this tip from Jasmine Star in her first creative live workshop. She encouraged photographers to move anything that would “cheapen” the photo. Feel free to move things like salt and pepper, serving utensils and sugar packets from a table. And of course, put them back after you get the photo you need. Before I heard Jasmine talk about this, I was too afraid to touch or move anything on the wedding day. I didn’t want to mess anything up. However, once I had the confidence to remove distracting items from my frame, my photos of flowers and tables settings started looking more like something you could find in a magazine. Holla!

3) Use surrounding environment- Use your environment to add interest to your photograph. First take a few photos of your object and then take a step back. What else in the room can you use to your advantage? Is there a window that can act as a natural frame for your object? Are there other elements already in the room that you can add to your photograph to make it tell a story? An example of this is in the photos below. I took these photos this summer at Jackson and Shayla’s wedding. Shayla got ready at her parents beautiful home. I started out the day taking photos of her jewelry, shoes, dress and makeup. I wanted close-up photos of her hair-piece and rings and I started out in a spot I thought had good light, but the background was a little boring. Then I saw the antique books sitting on the coffee table. I moved the rings and hair-piece and immediately the photos took on more life. The books, wood tray and burlap added texture the photograph was missing.

4) Lower your perspective-- This one is simple. To diversify your the kind of detail shots you take, simply change up your angle and perspective. At first, I simply shot a table setting by standing above it and shooting down. While this type of perspective can yield good photos, changing your angle or getting “low” can capture the setting and mood in a much stronger way. The photos below are from Dani and Tyson’swedding last summer. One was shot from above, the other I shot by getting on my knees and getting “eye level” with the table.

5) Shoot wide-open- In my opinion, one of the best ways to get strong detail shots is to shoot with your camera set at a low f-stop. (Click HEREto read a great explanation about aperture and f-stops.) By shooting “wide-open” you not only get the most out of all the pretty light, your detail will stand out and you’ll achieve that cool “drop-off” effect. Below are a few detail photos that I shot wide open and the settings.

85mm 1.8 1/30 and ISO 250

50mm 1.8 1/320 ISO 400

Grab your camera and start shooting!

{the cute vintage fabric tape is from Pugly Pixel. Find them HERE.}