LIGHT IS YOUR FRIEND
Making your subject pop cleanly off a cluttered and horribly lit background can be a daunting and a challenging experience. The real truth is that sometimes we have to preform our best in these low-light and poorly lit environments. Don't freak out next time you walk into this nightmare ─ make it pop.
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Light is a great way to cleanly separate your subject from the background. Use on camera flash or strobe lighting for the best possible and cleanest look. Know where to place light and which direction to shoot. This will not only help you with correct picture adjustment but will also make your photos really pop.
Try using a backlight behind your subject. This will help define your subject from the background and etch the edges of there body. Often photographers will do this with plain white light but for added contrast you can gel the backlight to make them pop even more.
A good thing to note here is to setup your lighting before your subjects arrive. Set up and test your lights using stand-ins if possible. Its hard and distracting when changing light settings when your subject is standing there expecting direction.
Using your cameras aperture-priority mode is an easy way to have more control over your photos without getting into the complexity of manual exposure. Use a small aperture to dim a cluttered background. This will also allow you to keep everything in focus easily due to the deeper depth of field a small aperture provides. A good stating aperture would be f/13. start with that and adjust to your liking.
You can always resort to post editing to make your photos pop. Photoshop and Gimp (free) are great tools to use. You can use the sharpen mask or blur the background while keeping your subject in focus.
Keep in mind that you will get best results if you do everything you possibly can to make your photos pop from the camera settings. Get it right when your shooting and spend less time in post production.
If you have any tips on how to make a photo pop that you would like to share please comment below.