Photo pro tip: Lighten up to make your friends look like rock stars


Credit: Pamela Littky

The thing you notice when perusing professional photographer Pamela Littky’s pictures of rock stars and famous people is just how … cool everyone looks. I got to thinking about how much of this coolness is based on the subject or the photographer, and what kinds of things everyday picture takers could do to make friends and families look like the rock stars we think they are.


“Shooting someone recognizable, people inherently think it’s cool because they know who that person is,” Littky said during a recent phone interview. “But you can totally, in the right light, take a really great shot of a non-famous person and have it be a really cool, interesting photo.”

Surprisingly, Littky still shoots a lot of her portraits on film, but she always has her iPhone 4s with her, ready to snap a photo at a moment’s notice. The main apps she uses are PRO HDR for proper exposure, and Filterstorm, which she says works like a “dumbed down Photoshop.” She’s an avid Instagrammer as well.


Her advice for getting cool photos of your friends boils down to two main tips: lighting and patience (she also recommended getting closer, but we covered that with Brad Mangin last week).

“It’s finding the right light,” said Littky, “and it exists any time of day in any kind of lighting condition.” Your subjects don’t have to remain stationary. Move around them, or move them around to see how the light falls differently depending on the angle. That leads to the second tip: patience.


“Wait for the moment, wait for it to happen,” said Littky. “There’s going to be that moment, a moment that’s special.” You don’t have to be Ansel Adams setting up camp all day waiting for just the perfect light, but you also don’t have to snap a photo right that instant. Use your instincts, you’ll know when the moment is right.

Littky thinks that sharing those moments on services like Instagram makes people more inclined to take better photos, which in turn, lifts the enjoyment of good photography overall. And that’s pretty cool.

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Margaret Tyson

that was very interesting !!!wish I could have been a photographer, too late now !!!!!


One more – it helps if your camera has HDR, high dynamic range. Otherwise you only get the bright or the dark part of the picture.

Chris Albrecht

I’ve had mixed results with HDR. Sometimes it jut makes everything look plastic and weird.

Jos Laflamme

This article effectively lays out why a lot of people suck at photography. They don’t give a thought at all to lighting or rely too heavily on built-in flashes.

Loving the shots you chose for this article btw.


With my Camera on my Android phone, I can select various effects prior to taking a shot. The Gallery that comes on my phone has effects that can be used to enhance, and an app called FxCamera will do other effects, although they have required a sign-in now.

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