Tag Archives: Photography

Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.


Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,


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Image source: Flickr


Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

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Image source: Rachael Moshman


Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

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Image source: Lauren Gaines


3 Tips for Making Your Photos More Professional

Taking a professional photo isn’t easy. Even for seasoned pros, it can take hours of shooting before they get a perfect picture. That being said, there are three main things that all professional photographers do that will significantly improve your photos.

When my daughter needed some quick headshots for a play she was auditioning for, we went out in the yard to take them. Ten minutes later, we had this professional photo.

1. Practice

As with any skill, the more you do it, the better you become at it. To continue to evolve as a photographer, you should do the following:

  • Take photos every day.
  • Have something specific in mind that you want to shoot.
  • Take photos of that subject in different locations.
  • Experiment with different settings on your camera until you know what all of them do.

The more you practice, the better you’ll get to know your camera. Even if it’s an inexpensive camera, knowing its features and settings will help you take better photos.

2. Plan

Every professional photo shoot is planned out long before the first click of the shutter button. For your own photo sessions, whether it be a family reunion or pictures for Christmas cards, you need to know where and when you’re shooting. Other things to consider include the following:

  • Lighting: Where will the natural light be, and how will it affect the shot you want to get? Do you need to bring artificial lights?
  • Backdrops: Do you need one, or will you use a natural setting?
  • Clothing: If you’re photographing people, do you want them to wear similar colors or does anything go?

Planning out the details ahead of time will make the whole process much smoother.

3. Get the Right Light

Photography is all about light; it is by far the most important element when you take any photograph. But you don’t have to run out and buy a bunch of studio strobes. Follow these tips to effectively light your shots:

  • Use existing lights: You can often just use the lights in the room you are in. Simply move them, shoot a test photo and then move them again until you like the results.
  • Use natural light: Consider going outside to shoot your photo. Natural light is always your friend, which is why you’ll see many portraits and headshots taken outdoors. I took this photo of my daughter against a neighbor’s fence in the afternoon light when she needed a headshot for an audition she was going to.
  • Use a reflector: If you’re not getting quite enough light on your subject, try reflecting the light on it. A piece of white poster board or paper is a perfect budget option.

Each of these tips will help you take more professional photos that will make great Prints for friends and family. Good luck, and happy shooting.

Share Life’s Happy,

C.C. Chapman

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Image source: C.C. Chapman


Lighten Up: When to Use Artificial Light for Photos

Light is what makes photography possible. Digital camera sensors, like film before them, create an image by recording the differing amounts of light reflected off the subject. Nature has been kind enough to provide a great source of light — the sun — but sometimes it just isn’t enough or creates awkward shadows. It is important in those situations to know how and when to use artificial light for your photos.

Knowing when to use artificial light in your photographs can make the difference between a snapshot and professional-looking results.

When There Isn’t Enough Light

The most obvious reason to use artificial light is because there isn’t enough available light to get the photo you want. Low light can result in a number of consequences. For example, if the light level is too low, your camera’s shutter speed may become so slow that moving subjects appear blurry; blur from camera shake can also be a problem. Your camera may try to compensate for the lack of light by increasing the ISO, or sensitivity, but this can result in noisy or grainy images. Finally, it may just be so dark that the camera is unable to capture an image at all.

Avoid Harsh Shadows

Sometimes it’s a good idea to use artificial light even when there’s more than enough available light to take the photograph. Often, when photographing people outdoors, direct sun can leave harsh, unflattering shadows on one side of the face or under the eyes and nose. They won’t produce the sort of results you’d want to use for family portraits or Photo Cards that you plan to send to family and friends. Adding a little light by using a flash, reflector or any other light source can soften those shadows for more pleasant portraits.

Take Control of Your Light

With some experience, you can use artificial light to take total control of your exposures. For instance, you can avoid pale, blown-out skies by setting your camera to expose for the sky and the flash to expose your subject correctly. You can use artificial light to create dramatic shadows on and around your subject. You can even use a flashlight or other handheld light source to “paint” with light at night or in a darkened room. Once you have the basics down, only your creativity will limit what you can do with artificial light in your photography.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka


How to Take Vacation Photos People Will Want to See

Packing your trusty camera when you go on vacation is as important as bringing fresh socks. You’ll take hundreds of shots, and you’ll want to share them all. But while you find all the photos of your hotel interesting and memorable, your friends and family probably won’t. Travel photography is all about capturing your unique perspective of a location, so here are some tips to take interesting and exciting holiday snaps that everyone will want to see.

Shoot What Interests You

Things will capture your attention as you walk around, so keep your eyes open for special moments. Too often people feel that they must take photos of the major landmarks, but the mark of a great travel photo is a picture of something that others overlook. If you’re in Paris, for example, look at the interactions between people. That way, you’ll be able to capture those unique moments, such as your child’s excitement at seeing a street performer, while everyone else is staring up at the Arc de Triomphe.

A different angle of the Arc de Triomphe

Look for a New Angle

Anyone can take a straight shot, but what about laying down or moving to the side of an eye-catching landmark to get a different perspective? When you’re looking for an interesting angle, you’ll often find yourself standing alone, away from the crowds jostling each other to get the same boring shot of the Eiffel Tower.

There are so many options for interesting photos taken from different angles. You can get right up close, so that you’re framing your subject in a different way, or you can stay further back to get more of the subject as well as the things happening around it. Some landmarks, such as Paris’ famous tower, can be seen above buildings for miles around. Find an interesting vantage point atop a hill or house, and take a photo from a spot few would think to.

Take Lots of Photos

It wasn’t that long ago that we were limited to 12, 24 or 36 photos on a roll of film. Now, our cameras can hold hundreds to thousands of photos. It may seem obvious in this age of social media, but capturing multiple shots of each subject will ensure you end up with at least some some truly memorable photos. And the great thing is, you can simply delete the lousy ones. Don’t regret not taking that second shot of your family watching whales from the beach — the next moment could be the one in which the whale breaches the water.

Day and Night

Nothing makes a photograph better than the right light. The middle of the day is rarely the best light for photographs. Consider taking your photos at different times of day and night for a unique look at a familiar landmark. Photographers often talk about “the golden hour” — that time when the sun is setting and the ground is covered in a beautiful golden shine. First thing in the morning can make for interesting views, and there are often fewer people out with their cameras at that time, so you’ll be able to shoot something unique. Imagine how good the Egyptian pyramids will look when the sun is rising or setting behind them.

Print Your Photos

While it’s great to share your travel photography online, there will always be something special about printing out your vacation photos. Today, it’s easier than ever to put together a travel Photo Book of your vacation for friends and family to reminisce over for years to come.

Wherever the road takes you this summer, capture it in a photo that people will want to see.

Share Life’s Happy,

C.C. Chapman

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Image source: Flickr


Rainy Day Photography


Hello Springlings!

Spring is here, but have no fear. It may be the rainy season, but it’s also prime time for alluring picture-taking. Next time you hear the pitter-patter on your roof, do the unthinkable: go outside and embrace it!

Get in your car or saunter beneath your colorful umbrella and start snapping pics of the beauteous drops falling from the dark, dreary clouds against the luminous city lights (or barren suburban streets, or luscious green landscape – wherever you may be).


Once you have a camera full of unique snapshots, there’s so much you can do!

  • Put them into a rainy day photography photobook you’ll have forever.
  • Choose your favorite few and put them in glass prints, sure to make them stand out in your home, on your mantle, on your nightstand – anywhere!
  • If you can narrow your favorites down to 12, you can make a personalized photo calendar for your home or office.
  • You can even turn your favorite few into a poster set to give as a gift to a family member or friend who you know will appreciate it.

Need some inspiration?
Check out this wondrous compilation I came across on onextrapixel.com while researching. There are 80 enchanting hand-picked photos of rain photography.

Pretty sweet, eh?


Happy Photographing! Get crafty and embrace the creative YOU.


-Marina, designer at Walgreens

Can a smartphone really be a great camera?

The fact is that smartphone cameras are getting, well, smarter!  As an avid photographer, I own many different cameras, but over the last year or so I’ve found the iPhone 4 to be an awesome point and shoot camera- so much so that I’ve completely ditched my old point and shoot.

In all reality, the resolution (5 megapixels), the aperture (f2.8), the color saturation, the noise reduction, etc… in the iPhone 4 puts it on par with many great point and shoot cameras.  And now the iPhone 4S takes it up a notch adding 3 more megapixels and an extra half stop or so on the aperture.  This just means that more of us will soon be saying goodbye to our point and shoot cameras (good riddance).

Over the past year or so, I’ve carried my iPhone 4 with me just about everywhere and still do.  As a photographer, this has let me explore a new level of creativity because it means that wherever I see a photo opportunity, I have a great camera on me to take advantage of it.  The photo you see here in my post were taken with my iPhone 4, with no post editing.  I’m still blown away by the quality achieved with this multi-purpose tool.  It’s really going to change photography forever.

But what about enlargements?  I know that a lot of photographers out there are wondering if today’s best smartphones can take photos that have enough resolution and sharpness for 16”X20” and 24”X36” prints.  I can say without a doubt, “YES” you can make amazing enlargements with a smartphone.  Well, at least in my humble opinion. One of the primary reasons I take photos is to fill my home with memories that I’ve created.  And using Walgreens Photo, I’ve made multiple enlargements, including poster prints just from images that I’ve taken with my iPhone 4.  They look incredible, especially with a little matting and a glass frame.  Friends and family are shocked when I tell them that much of the art in my home was shot on an iPhone!  Even better, Walgreens is putting high-resolution poster printers in thousands of local stores across the country.  This means that I can get enlargements made in under an hour (and to think that I used to wait weeks for these to be printed).

1000memories.com recently mentioned on their blog that 10% of the world’s photos were taken in just the last year!  That’s amazing considering that photography  has been around for over 185 years!  But, I believe it.  Since making the iPhone 4 my primary camera, I’ve take more pictures than at any other time in my life.  I suspect many of you too have experienced this same phenomenon.  So go big, enlarge those photos, and enjoy!

By: Ben Weiss


**Photographers Tip!

When you’re uploading photos to photo.walgreens.com make sure you select full resolution in the upload settings.  This will ensure that the full resolution image gets sent to the store and that you get the most beautiful enlarged image possible.  If you choose to upload using the Walgreens app, your images will only be 1024x768px, enough resolution for a 4×6 print, but not adequate for any enlargements.  I encourage you to upload your photos on walgreens.com in full resolution for the best enlargements.

Choosing Glossy or Matte Photos

Glossy or Matte? It’s the question you face anytime you print digital images.  While ultimately it comes down to personal preference, there are some things to consider regarding each.

Glossy – one reason that glossy prints are so popular is because they show vibrant color well. Digital photos printed on glossy paper tend to appear crisper and sharper, while colors in matte prints tend to be more subdued. If you’re photographing something in nature or anything outdoor, a glossy finish might be the way to go.

Matte – if you’re taking pictures of architecture or monuments where clarity is crucial, then a matte finish will serve you well.  Black and white images, more formal shots and larger size pictures, such as 5×7 or 8×10 family portraits are typically produced on matte paper because of their attention to detail.

Are your photos going to be passed around a lot? If so, one advantage of matte photos is their ability to hide fingerprints and dust. This is because they have a slight texture to them. Glossy photos are shiny and tend to pick up smudges quicker. But keep in mind that fingerprints and smudges can be easily wiped away with a photo cloth.

Also, how will your photos be used? If you plan to frame them, one advantage of matte prints is that they are easier to view in all kinds of light. On the other hand, if you plan to use them in a scrapbook, the rich, deep colors of glossy photos may be a better fit.

Clearly, there are pros and cons to each type of photo paper. If you still can’t choose between glossy or matte, why not print off one set of each? Then you can compare them to see which look you prefer. After all, the type of photo finishing you choose will depend on what you like.

Do you prefer the look of glossy or matte photos?

What draws you to one or the other?

How have you used glossy and matte photos differently?

Photography Tips for Beginners, Part One – Start Experimenting!

There’s plenty to learn when you’re a beginning photographer. But the good news is that digital cameras make learning fun. Discover some of the tricks of the trade in our first post about beginner photography and check out additional posts in the series to come.

Woman Taking A Photo

First, learn about your camera. Many come with a multitude of features, settings and options that you can play with. For example, how do you focus? What can you adjust? Many cameras come complete with auto-correct for lighting, motion and contrast, but it’s in your best interest to learn how you can correct these things manually. The more you build your skills, the better.

Second, know your subject. Think about the object, setting, person, or place that you’re photographing. If you’re taking pictures of an event, make sure to check out the background, lighting and any restrictions that you need to be aware of. The more you can prepare your shot ahead of time the more freedom you will have to explore the composition and the more natural your pictures will look and feel.

Speaking of composition, have you heard of the rule of thirds? It comes in very handy in photography. Think of your picture as a rectangle that is divided into thirds both horizontally and vertically; then visualize the nine smaller rectangles and intersecting lines created. When you compose your picture – or arrange your subject –position it with these intersecting lines in mind. You want your subject or the most interesting element of your subject to be in the left or right third of the photo and centered in the lower or upper third horizontally. Your photograph is going to be more interesting if you align your subject so that the main point of interest is in one of the intersecting points of the grid. This principle done right helps to draw your audience into the picture. Once you’re aware of the rule, it’s easy to see it in professional photo prints.

There’s much more to consider about photography and many more tips to share, so stop back for the next post. In the meantime, start taking photographs and experimenting. As in anything, the more you try the more you learn. So, practice, practice, practice.

Share your favorite tips for fellow beginners!

What is your best tip for composition when shooting a group of people?