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February 23, 2007

Tips for Crafting Unique Images

by Marisa Catalina Casey

   Every day we are bombarded by thousands of images from TV, websites, movies, video games, newspapers and magazines. It can be difficult to make your own photographs stand out with all the competition! Whether you're using a film camera or a digital one, consider the following tips to help you craft more unique images of your next vacation, special occasion or school project.

Think Small

Often it's easier to see the "big picture" of a scene. Yet, it can be even more fun to look at people, places or objects close up. Try taking a portrait of a friend where you only use one part of their face or body to represent them. You may be surprised by the result!

Point of View & Framing

Think about perspective and framing when you're out shooting. Some of the most unforgettable images have been from unusual angles. Try shooting the same subject from above, below, at eye level, and from the ground looking up. You may even want to "shoot from the hip" and not look through the camera's viewfinder at all! In addition, look for objects, people or architectural elements that will create a natural frame for your image. Instead of placing your subject in the middle of the photo, experiment with placing it to the extreme right, left, top or bottom of the frame.

Color or Black & White?

Some people think black and white images look old-fashioned or serious. This isn't always the case. When using a film camera, you can buy black and white film that can be processed just like color film at your local photo store. Examples include Kodak Professional Portra 400BW and Ilford XP2 Super 400. When using digital images, many cameras have a function to turn color images into black and white ones or you can use free digital imaging software like Google's Picasa to manipulate your images (picasa.google.com).

Sometimes One Isn't Enough

Even if you think you've captured the perfect image the first time around, definitely take some safety shots. You may find you like more than one version of an image and then you can play with several images to create a series that can be framed as a diptych (two images), triptych (three images), or scan them all and try your hand at animation!

Digital Imaging Software & Websites

In addition to professional digital imaging software like Adobe Photoshop, there are several free websites like Snapfish.com, Shutterfly.com, or Photoworks.com that allow users to upload, edit, share and print photos. Often, these sites allow you to customize items like t-shirts, mugs, and calendars with your images. If youire really into desktop publishing, try Adobeis other professional programs, Illustrator and PageMaker, for incorporating photographs into graphic designs.

Now it's time to get started on your next photo project -- don't forget to experiment and have fun!

Marisa Catalina Casey is the Founder and Executive Director of Starting Artists, Inc., a community-based nonprofit offering visual and performing arts experiences to youth in Brooklyn, New York. Ms. Casey has been awarded several photography grants and her images have been published and exhibited across the U.S. and Latin America. Graduating with honors from Brown University, Ms. Casey is pursuing her Masters Degree in Arts Administration from Columbia University Teachers College.

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