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5 Steps to Take a Good Picture on the Fly

Aug 10, 2020 | How-To

A photo op comes up, but you don’t feel prepared. What should you do?


hould you not take the photo in case it turns out bad? Of course not! Assess the situation, make a few crucial photography decisions, and then take your shot. Taking a great picture on the fly doesn’t have to be so tough.


Practice in your free time to prepare yourself for the moment you have to take a good picture on the fly. When you know the problems that could come up, it will be easier for you to readjust and make it work. In the meantime, here are 5 steps to help you take great pictures confidently!


Evaluate Your Lighting


Face the light source closest to you – that’s the most powerful. When you have a broader light source, it creates a softer light in your image. This is because you have more light hitting your subject from multiple directions, which helps get rid of unwanted shadows.


Do focus on what it is you’re selling and use the lighting to highlight that. You can utilize your light sources in different ways, but always remember that your product is the main focus. Consider the mood and tone of your photo that you want to convey and make any lighting changes accordingly.


Don’t Stand in Front of the Window


Natural light is the best light, but just because the view outside is great doesn’t mean your photo will turn out great. When you stand in front of a window, you’re sure to darken your product or setup entirely, you can even cause a grainy photo from the auto-light adjustments your phone will make. (Same goes for your camera!) Instead, rearrange your subject so that the light from the window highlights it. You can still use the natural light, but have the window behind you.


Don’t be afraid to move your subject or product around to see the results you end up with. As you go along, make some adjustments and keep snapping. Sometimes, you’d be surprised at what you end up with.


Check Quick Details


Nothing is more annoying than when you take a photo you love, only to realize later that the background was a mess with junk on the table, or the model carrying your product had dirty glasses. Check for little things that can take the attention away from your product. Do a quick sweep of the background to identify any items that you will need to move, rearrange, or take out completely.


Some things to look out for are dust, lint, scratches or other imperfections. This is where you might also see the wear and tear in items you might use often (if you can’t touch it up the best advice is, don’t use it). You might even notice weird wrinkles or finger prints on clear items. That just means it is important to take note and clean things up really well before you shoot. Less editing is better for your time!


Take Several Photos


It’s always better to have options to choose from, so take several photos of your product. No one wants to set up another photoshoot to capture a shot that could have easily be taken the first time.


Take more photos than you think you’ll need, but have a variety. Don’t keep taking the same one, from the same angle – change up the composition and exposure, get different angles, and capture different product details.


Sometimes a photo that you thought looked good when you shot it looks completely different when uploaded onto your computer. Other times, a photo you may not have liked when you took it can turn out to be your favorite one. The point is to take several photos of your product to leave yourself with options!


NOTE – Your camera’s focus can adjust mid-snap and cause you to miss an opportunity. Take multiple photos and give yourself options if you’re not a pro or as comfortable with your equipment.


Get Closer


The lenses on the phones are meant to be wide-angle, but if you’re doing a flat lay, you are better off getting in closer. Zooming in can diminish the photo’s quality. As you get closer to the product, fill the frame of the photo. Watch the outer corners to make sure you can’t see the end of the table that you’re shooting on.


When you physically get closer to your product, there are fewer distractions to draw the eye away.  It’s easier to capture the moment, the story, and the message you’re trying to send when you fill the frame. Don’t give your customers a second to question what exactly it is that you’re selling. You can still include other elements but focus in on your subject.




Next time you’re asked to take some photos on the fly, you’ll know what to do with these 5 tweaks. Be patient with yourself and keep making small changes each time you shoot new photos for your products.


You can learn more about how to fix your images with a freebie I’ve created for you here. You can also check out my blog post on the 3 ways to get the best lighting for your product photography. And if you ever need help planning your ideal product photoshoot or have any questions, we can schedule a consultation call to discuss your photoshoot needs. Otherwise, you can connect with me on Instagram for more photo fun!

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About Crystal


Crystal is the Creative Director, Photo Stylist, and Commercial Photographer behind Crystal Clear Creative Studios. From increased sales, visibility, and trends to conversions and full production, Crystal and her team, experts on the subject matter, provide clients with confidence to take your photography and videography needs off your plate. We support you in your growth with the creation and implementation of transformative ideas.

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