How to make a great picture even greater {Baton Rouge photographer Michael Tortorich}

April 11, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

It would be difficult to argue that a photograph with a great subject is not a great photograph.

Yes, if there are beautiful women in the picture, or children, or flowers, then you're almost all the way where you want to be. But a great subject alone does not make for a great photo.

The image above was not taken by me. It was posted on a social media site, and is fairly typical of an amateur shot. It was taken in front of the Baton Rouge Twin Peaks restaurant, a wildly popular new eating establishment known for its exceptional cuisine (just kidding, it's all about the ladies).

Years ago, I would have probably taken the same photo, and thought it was fine. But because of a few slight issues, a potential 10-of-10 shot is more like an 8-of-10.

Obviously the content is there. You have a pair of lovely ladies and some cool bikes. Anyone with a set of eyes can see that.

Here's where the difference comes in between an amateur photographer and an experienced photographer (typically experience sets apart professionals from mommies with cameras).

If you want your photos to become drastically better today, you can make a world of difference by paying close attention to the background. Our eyes fixate on foregrounds naturally, and we all but ignore backgrounds. All day, every day, we see clutter in the backgrounds of our surroundings. Instead of trying to process all of this, we essentially just ignore it.

A camera cannot ignore a background. The composition of this photo has lots of distractions. The typical viewer's eyes will be drawn to the signs and stores across the highway. The radio station vehicle parked on the grass, and the passing cars are no help either. Those three vehicles are vying for space in the photo, and can almost be confused as subjects.

The ladies in the photo look fine. Their outfits, hair and makeup are in order, and are not distracting. They are posing in a fairly typical way. Almost every woman has figured out that the hand on the hip pose is among the most flattering.

So how can we take a shot like this and make it better?

First, I would compose it better. That means doing whatever it takes to clear the background as much as possible.

When I shoot, I try to find an interesting area that will translate well as a backdrop. Typically, this means taking a "less is more" approach. Of course, there are no rules in photography, just guidelines, so let the moment take you where it may.

To take your photography to another level, learn anything and everything you can about light. Of course, this was a fairly candid snapshot, so it's not like they were going to wait around for the golden hour when the sun is setting each day.

Learning to command natural light, and directing artificial light to use for your benefit, can be learned through the experience of trial and error. Lighting basics can be learned through books, classes, and Internet materials. The rubber really meets the road when lighting is applied in practice.

So, if you're interested in improving your photography, get out there with a camera and experiment. Keep in mind that everyone who has achieved greatness did it by learning the basics first...then practice, practice, and practice.

About Michael Tortorich {Photographer | Writer | Journalist}

Who is Michael Tortorich? A lifelong resident of the south Louisiana swamplands, his journey as a journalist (with a specific flair for photography) began well before earning a penny for his work. He's a proud LSU graduate, holding a degree in journalism (along with minors in two avid subjects, history and psychology). He has worked full-time positions at two local television stations (in graphics and as a show producer), and as a sports editor of a suburban newspaper. He currently owns and operates Michael Tortorich Photography, LLC. The business provides a wide range of photography services, including event coverage (weddings, parties, sporting events, etc.) and portrait sessions (high school/college seniors, families, children, etc.). He also coordinates social media for the City of Donaldsonville ( and, and contributes to Ascension Parish online news source, The Creole.

For more information, see:

Michael Tortorich on Facebook - https:/​/​www.​facebook.​com/​tortorich
Michael Tortorich Photography on Facebook - https:/​/​www.​facebook.​com/​MichaelTortorichPhotographyLLC
Michael Tortorich on Twitter - https:/​/​twitter.​com/​MikeTortorich
Michael Tortorich on LinkedIn - http:/​/​www.​linkedin.​com/​pub/​michael-​tortorich/​22/​35a/​a61

Call or text at 225-717-0762.


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Based in the swampy confines of south Louisiana, Michael Tortorich Photography specializes in a variety of creative and artistic styles. {Contact: 225-717-0762}

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