Simple Shooting Tips from Stock Photographer Jani Bryson

It’s exciting to see the photo concepts everyone’s coming up with in our “Bring Home the Bacon” Breakfast Stock Challenge.

If you haven’t submitted any shots or seen anyone else’s, you can do so here, without logging in. I’m going to keep it open for submissions until next Friday.

In the meantime, professional stock photographer Jani Bryson picked out a few shots that she liked and offered some pro shooting tips…

Simple Tips to Improve Your Shots In-Camera

By Stock Photographer Jani Bryson in Kansas City, Missouri

Looking through the shots in the Breakfast Stock Club "Bring Home the Bacon" Challenge, I see a lot of potential for stock. You're really thinking about creating a unique shot, and playing with camera angles to come up with something creative and fresh. Keep at it -- you're doing great.

Here are a few shots that have stock potential, and yet could use a tweak here or there. If you find your photos have the same issues, these tips should help.

Yogurt and Strawberries

This photo from the Challenge is a good concept, and a great starting point for a saleable stock image. Great job. There are a few things I would recommend to make it even stronger.

For subjects like this, images are usually more successful when the viewer can imagine participating in the scene. As a viewer, my first thought is that I would have to pick the strawberries up with my fingers to eat them, but they are covered with yogurt. So my feeling is that I’d be more compelled to take a taste if they were sliced.

I like the soft window light, but would like this image to be a bit brighter. In this instance, I would probably choose spot metering in-camera. Basically, what this does is instead of exposing for the entire photo, your camera exposes the photo based on where you focus it -- in this case, the closer side of the bigger strawberry. Since that area is fairly dark, with spot metering the camera will brighten the entire image to make sure that spot is properly exposed. Check your manual if you’re not sure how to turn on spot metering.

Thank You Hens

This image shows some real potential for stock, with only a few minor changes. If it is possible to re-shoot, I would recommend a more natural setting, rather than the white backdrop.

I might also move the bowl a bit to the right, keeping in mind the Rule of Thirds. I would crop a bit tighter -- perhaps even cropping off part of the whisk handle. The “idea” of a whisk is all that’s really needed in this image.

I also think that increasing the contrast in this image will help tremendously. This can be done a number of ways in processing. In this instance, I would increase the “Blacks” setting in Adobe Lightroom. I’ll show you how to do that next week.

Morning Sunshine

This is a lovely image, and I think it could be made stronger by changing a few things. It is a bit under-exposed. As I described for the “Yogurt and Strawberries” image, I would choose “spot metering” in-camera, and even try increasing the exposure more with the exposure compensation feature (again, check your manual or see the Session 14 Video Supplement in your Turn Your Pictures into Cash program).

Since the concept is morning sunshine, this image really should be bright all over -- as bright as it can get without blowing out the highlights.

Another thing you can do to brighten this image -- especially the muffin and the dark, lower right-hand corner -- would be to hold a reflector or a white piece of cardboard outside of the image, opposite the light source, to bounce a bit of fill light back onto the subject.

Thanks, Jani!

With those tips in mind, feel free to shoot more photos and submit them to the Challenge.

Next week, Jani will pick out a few more shots with stock potential and do a quick Adobe Lightroom process on them. While she's at it, you'll find out some easy things you can do to improve your shots with processing.

Have a great weekend!

-- Bonnie

Bonnie Caton
Great Escape Publishing
Breakfast Stock Club

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