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How to Give Positive Vibes to Your Images

Tips to Spice Up Your Pics

One of the challenges often faced by photographers is to give their images a positive vibe. If you are shooting portraits you know without doubts, that some images require just a plain old profile shot and others, where you are specifically requested, will have to give the image a positive and lively vibe.

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This can be a for a magnitude of reasons including the corporate requirement for profile shots of its employees, for commercial stock shots to be used in healthcare and hospitality industry or for the yearbook for which generally happy faces do make for a better image.

No matter what your reason is, these 4 tips should come handy.

4 Tips That Can Make All the Difference to Your Photos

  1. Making Your Subjects Smile
  2. Using Catchlights
  3. Using Bright Colors
  4. High-Key Photography

1. Squinting Eyes to Make the Smile More Natural

Beautiful smile by Worldizen
A natural and beautiful smile gives a positive vibe to your images. Photo by Worldizen

Making the person smile is the easy stuff. You can simply ask for it. But making the smile look natural isn’t that easy. One can easily spot a fake smile if one pays attention to the finer aspects of the image.

The easiest way is to look at the eyes. Yes, you guessed it right. If the eyes are not squinting, probably it is a fake smile.

While you can ask your subject to also squint while she sports a fake smile (wonder how you can manage both), it is easier said than done. The solution is in actually making her smile.

This is where your interpersonal skills come into the picture, literally.

There is no hard and fast rules that work to make your subject smile. The internet is filled with suggestions on how to make your subject smile. Not every tip will work with you, being the kind of photographer you are.

So try as many as you can and choose the ones that work best for you. Practice at least 4-5 tactics and have them in the kitty for when you might need them.

2. Give a Positive Vibe to Your Image with Catchlights

2006_05.25 Naomi by Christine Szeto
Using a catchlight can make all the difference. Naomi by Christine Szeto

Believe it or not, the catchlight that you will hear a lot about on the internet and spoken about by other professional photographers can go a long way to add a bit of positive vibe to your images.

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Normally, the catchlight is used to breathe life into an image. Take two exact images, one with catchlight and one without.

You will notice the one with the catchlight in it (the twinkle in the eye) feels a lot more catchy (pun intended).

To use catchlight in your images all you need to do is use a bright source of light right in front of the subject. If using single light, place the light just above the head of the subject but at an angle.

The catchlight will appear somewhere towards the top right corner. When using clamshell lighting and shooting through the sources of light the catchlight will be split into two and appear right in the middle of the eye.

You can even use a reflector for adding the catchlight. It does not have to be a flash or strobe or continuous light all the times.

Related: 4 Catchlight Techniques

3. Use Brighter Colors

Sweet Rainbow Sugar Cookies by Pink Sherbet Photography
Use bright colors to give your images a positive vibe. Sweet Rainbow Sugar Cookies by Pink Sherbet Photography

Brighter colors are always associated with a positive vibe. The darker the scene is, the more sinister it will feels.

As a matter of fact, photographers often use an undertone of dark shades in the background, the color of the clothes that the subject wears and even lighting (using split lighting etc.) to create a cloud of mystery and shadowiness in the images.

On the other hand, lighter pastel shades work best when you want to create a vibe of happiness and positivity in general.

Have you noticed that hospital staff always wear light pastel shades of pink or blue or even plain white? Ever wondered why? Now you know.

Lighter colors also reflect more light, another factor that contributes to a positive vibe to an image.

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4. High-Key Photography Treatment

Baby -- High Key by PHOTO BOOTH
High-key photography can make your photos stand out. Baby by Photo Booth

Finally, high-key treatment is a very effective method to create a positive vibe in your images.

I have already discussed in detail on how to give your images a high-key treatment in another article, so will refrain from discussing that again here.

Related Post: High Key Photography Tips

I just want to highlight that you need a lot of light – artificial or otherwise, in order to create high-key images. As a beginner photographer shooting in natural light would be the best option especially as you may not be able to afford three or more lights. For those with slightly deeper pockets, I suggest buying at least three lights.

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