13 Tips for Getting a Great Looking Photo for Your Invitation

You’ve chosen an invitation that will feature a photo of your guest of honor. Once you add your photo to the invitation template, you want it to look every bit as beautiful as the sample.

To ensure that it looks great, take a few moments to consider the following details.


1. Consider using a professional photographer.

A professional photographer will ensure that your photos have a sharp focus, that your subject is well posed, that the lighting and composition will be perfect and that the background doesn’t distract from the subject of the photo. If this option is out of your price range, consider finding a photography student to do the job. Review their portfolio before hiring.

2. If you don’t have a digital photo that can be attached to an email, but you have a print of a great photo:

■ Try to get it scanned at a high resolution. 300 dpi (dots per inch) should be the minimum.

■ Avoid using your phone to take a picture of the original photo, especially if it is already behind glass in a frame. While it may look good on your phone screen, the final print of the photo on your invitation will look skewed. If the photo is in a frame, there will be visible reflections on the glass.

If you choose to take the photograph yourself, here are some tips to keep in mind:

3. Seek out inspiration before you take your photos.

If you’re not in the habit of shooting posed subjects, take a look around online and in magazines before you begin. Notice which photos catch your eye. See if you can figure out why. Did the photo create an attractive mood? Do you like the expression on the subject’s face? Do you like the background of the photo? Professional photographers consider a host of details before they shoot. You can benefit from their experience by attempting to dissect their work, and using it as inspiration.

4. Consider the lighting.

■ Try to have the subject cast in natural light, either outdoors or indoors with the light coming in through a window.

■ Make sure that the light isn’t blinding, and that it isn’t making your subject squint.

■ Be sure that the subject is not standing in front of a window on a brilliant sunny day. While they may look great in the room, they will wind up photographing as a dark silhouette in front of the light coming in through the window.

■ The lighting source should be coming over the photographer’s shoulder, with the light falling on the subject. It should not be behind the subject.

■ Make sure that no shadows are falling on the subject, including the shadow of the photographer. If you’re shooting indoors, please keep in mind that fluorescent lighting tends to be harsh.

■ Avoid using the flash.

5. Arrange to have a neutral background behind the subject.

Do not pose your subject inside a cluttered bedroom, or any other area in the house that hasn’t been straightened up. Even if the house is immaculate, the furniture in the background, or the artwork on the walls may wind up distracting the eye from the subject of the photo. Ideally, you’d like the subject to stand before a blank wall. You could also choose to use a backdrop. Hang a clean, stain free, well ironed, solid colored bed sheet on the wall behind the subject.

6. Make sure that the subject has brushed their hair and groomed themselves.

The camera can be unforgiving. It can emphasize things that the naked eye would overlook. Wisps of stray hair straggling from an up-do will show up in your photo, and may give the subject a messier appearance. Make sure that makeup has been touched up, that there is no lipstick on the teeth, and that the subject isn’t chewing gum. If you are photographing someone with long hair, try asking them to pull it to the side, and have it covering one shoulder instead of both. This will give you a better view of their face.

7. Make sure that you hold your camera as steadily as possible.

This will help you get a sharper focus on your photo. If you have a tripod, use it. If you don’t have a tripod, try resting your camera, or your elbows, on any fixed piece of heavy furniture or any solid surface. If you can keep your body still while shooting, there’s less risk that a small movement will wind up blurring the photo.

8. Don’t assume that your first photo will do the job.

Take a series of photos of the subject in a pose. Then try a host of different poses.

This is the way that professional photographers conduct a photo session. It’s a good idea to take many more photos than you’ll need, and then to have this wide variety of photos available to choose from.

9. Get your subjects to speak while you’re photographing them.

Your subject will look more relaxed and less stiff and posed if you can encourage them to talk during your photo session. Top fashion models cultivate the skill of conveying a message to the camera with the expressions on their faces. Try to snap the photo just as the subject has finished saying something. The subject will wind up looking more alive, even while sitting still in a pose. More of their personality will come through in the photograph.

10. Experiment with keeping the camera just slightly above the middle of the subject’s face.

You will get an unflattering result if you shoot the subject from below, looking up their nostrils. You’ll get a more flattering result if you shoot the subject from slightly above. Bear this in mind if you are photographing a newborn in a crib. Try to take the photo from overhead, rather than from the usual vantage point, where you’d be near the baby’s feet and shooting their face from below.

11. If you are photographing a couple, or more than one subject in a photo, take more photos.

It is harder to get a good photo when you’ve got more than one subject. One subject might come out looking great while the other is slightly out of focus or looking away. The more photos you take, the better your chance of winding up with one in which all the subjects look great.

12. Have patience and allow the time needed to do the job right the first time.

If you wind up with a blurred photo and an unkempt subject in a messy environment, do not assume that graphic artists are magicians who can fix it up. Not much can be done to help a bad photo.

13. Make sure that you’ve seen a print of your photo.

Photos can look much different in print than they do on your phone or laptop screen. Avoid disappointment by making sure that your photo will make a good print before you decide to use it on an invitation.

If you’ve reached the end of this list, but still have questions, please feel free to shoot us an email or give us a call. Ask for Debbie.

We want to make sure that you’re completely thrilled with your invitations.

Photo ‘SAKURAKO – Photographer’ by MIKI Yoshihito used with gratitude via Creative Commons

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