A Quick Guide to Capturing Beautiful Detail Shots (with Annie!)

A Quick Guide to Capturing Beautiful Detail Shots (with Annie!)

A Quick Guide to Detail ShotsDon’t you love those simple, detail shots that draw you in when you scroll through your Instagram feed? The ones that show the details of life in an artful and beautiful way? Me too. I’ve been trying hard to capture these linger-worthy shots for ages and have always struggled, so I reached out to the most talented little ‘grammar I know for advice. Enjoy!


Hi pretty! I’m Annie, of the MontgomeryFest Annies. I was completely delighted when Margo asked me to share a little insight into how I get my detail shots. I think I audibly said heck yeah and then closed my email and thought – what IS my detail shot process? So, what happened was is that I overanalyzed every photo I took or watched friends style this week. I also scrolled through my Instagram feed and relived table shot after table shot from Brussels to Morocco to San Francisco. In my extensive research, I’ve come up with your Full Proof Guide to Detail Shots.

Oh, by the way. When I asked Margo where she was headed off to on this holiday, she replied, “the French Riv.” Oh, the life. *wink* Which only means that we should take insanely gorgeous photos of where we are this week and make people want to travel to where we are, okay? Let’s go –

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1 | White space

White space can be a powerful thing. (It’s not necessarily white.) It guides the eye and points your viewers to only the raddest areas you want them to look. The rule of thirds is a biggy here. That area that you want them to check out, that should be on or fill one third of your image. Let the negative space shout out the main subject.

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2 | Add life

Add a plant or a hand, something that gives the feeling of movement. You’ll notice it brings it more to life, like we’re interacting with the photo more. This is also really helpful when your friends are hungry and they’re all grabbing for the chips and salsa while you’re trying to snap your insta-moment. Let them! I prefer lived in, real photos over posed any day.

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3 | Balance

A little symmetry goes a long way. It’s pleasing to the eye, yada yada. We know this. We’ve got this. Let’s get a little creative with it, shall we? Above all, let the balance of your photo feel comfortable.

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4 | Frame angles

Sometimes your subject begs to stand by itself. It’s beautiful and loud, but you want to take it to the next level. Take advantage of angles. Floorboards or plank tables, even brick walls or light rays provide natural lines. Line them up at a steep angle to give interest. Work those angles!

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5 | Use ingredients

Use ingredients to pepper your shot. If it’s a food shot, get a little messy! Scatter ingredients from the main subject to tie it all together. If it’s florals, use leaves or petals or even the string that holds (or would hold) the bouquet together.

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6 | Color

We’re looking for colors that pop on camera. Are there tones that can be pulled out? I love a good gold tone. Are you (or your friend) rockin’ a particularly great shade of nail polish? That’s six AND seven of our guide – WIN.

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7 | Shooting angles

Remember when we talked about angles? Consider from where you shoot. When shooting with a DSLR, it’s easier to shoot from a whole plethora of angles. When shooting on your phone, straight on is the most flattering. So, either perpendicular with the table, looking directly at the side of your subjects or parallel to the table, directly above looking down at your subjects. If you’re the one with the great nail polish shade, ask your friend to take it or use a tripod.

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8 | Lighting

Sometimes lighting speaks for itself. A strong ray of light can make the whole photo. And we should always let it. If its mediocre, that’s why they made filters! Crank up the exposure and shine on.

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9 | Shoot multiple

Take more than one and move around! I’ve been known to do that awkward arm up above the head move. Take some close-up. Take some further away. More often than not, the one I take further away will let me zoom in exactly how I want it. That’s the sweet spot.


You guys. This was so much fun. Thanks for humoring me and thank you, Margo, for having this amazing lifestyle that allowed me to help you out. If you want to chat about photos some more or brunch agendas or just life, come say hi at MontgomeryFest.

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  • Gorgeous collection of photos! I love little guides like these 🙂 x

    Katina | http://www.katinalindaa.com

    • Wonderful, Katina! Glad you enjoyed it – I certainly did! Annie has an amazing eye for these things and definitely makes me want to work harder on my IG feed! 😀

  • I love Annie’s IG feed. A little while back I got all nosy and went back to the early days and although the photos were lovely then, it was impressive to see the evolution of MFest on IG. These tips are superb. Now if only I could implement them!

    • I’m right there with you Amy! Even was back in her early Brussels days she had an eye for these things. She is SO creative – I’m so happy she agreed to guest post and share some of her secrets with us!

  • I love reading about other people’s tips for photography — I find I always learn something new. Beautiful collection of photos, thanks for sharing!

    http://www.mintnotion.com

    • Absolutely, my dear! I’m glad you found it helpful! Annie has an amazing eye for these things so I’m thrilled she agreed to share her secrets! 🙂

  • Annie’s photography are so gorgeous! Love her tips! Both of you lovely ladies are amazing photographers! 🙂

    • Ah, blush! Right back at YOU too my dear! I’m kind of obsessed with all of Annie’s photos so I was sooo happy when she agreed to guest post. She’s brilliant.

  • Love all the photos especially the photo with the lemons. Useful tips as well. I always shoot multiple shots because there’ll always be some bad shots.

    The Runaway Journal

    • Yeah! I didn’t think to do that before either! Annie is brilliant!

  • Lauren @BonVoyageLauren

    Reallllly helpful! Now I need to step up my Instagram game 😉 Thanks for sharing!

    Happy travels 🙂

    • Great! Hat’s off to Annie for doing such a nice job! It definitely makes me want to work at my IG more too!

  • Corinne Vail

    Great points! I love adding the human!

    • This is something I definitely didn’t think to do before either! Annie has an amazing eye and great tips! I loved this post she did so much! 🙂

  • Anna Melkumian

    Thanks for such a nice pics!

    http://www.annamelkumian.com

    • Absolutely! Annie is so talented isn’t she? 🙂

  • Julia

    Ahh I wish I was able to take photos like these! I’m always trying so hard and having everybody laugh at me, and telling me I’m going to spill my coffee and hurt myself (you’ll know which one I’m talking about if you look at my feed:D). These tips were amazing, what a great idea for a guest post!

    • haha! I’m SOOO with you Julia! When it comes to Dan and meal-time I only get a few precious moments to try and snap a picture before he dives in so ultimately it’s me racing around the table trying to get the lighting/angles right. One day I will trip and fall, I’m sure of it!

  • Lex

    Great post! I’ve really been trying to amp up my photos, so I really appreciated this tips. Thanks so much!

    • wonderful! Glad you found them helpful, Lex! Annie is SO talented, isn’t she? 😀

  • Thank you so much for sharing the great tips. I particularly like the tips of adding life to the photos. It’s very practical and useful.

    • Wonderful. Annie is so talented so I knew she’d provide a great resource- and did she ever, right? 😀 Happy snapping (and sorry to sound corny!)! 😀

  • Great tips, I’m always trying to improve my detailed shots. Thanks!

    Yasmine | http://peekingduck.co

  • Such a great post! I can’t wait to start putting these tips into practice during my travels. Love the lemon slices, by the way.

  • Thanks so much for great tips 🙂 Greetings from Poland.

  • The Postcard Travelers

    Margo- the pics don’t seem to be showing in this post!