For better photos, don’t forget to BLEP

If you’re even a little bit fashionable, you’ve experienced this before. You have a cute outfit and you want to snag just a few pictures. You ask a friend to snap a couple outfit shots. When you go to review them later, you see to your horror that you petticoat is showing, your lipstick is smudged, there’s a portapotty in the background, and your face is completely in shadow.

Fear not! I’m on a mission to make everyone a slightly better photographer so no one has this happen to them.  I’ve complied a short list of things to keep in mind the next time you are asked to take a street snap for a friend or community member. It even has a catchy acronym!

(I’ve lovingly including some outtake photos from friends. They know that they are wildly competent photographers and these are outliers.)

Next time you need to take a picture, don’t forget to BLEP.

B stands for background!

Before you start framing your shot, take a few minutes to compose the image, starting with the background. Make sure that your background is free from anything distracting or disruptive. Even if you can’t find something ~aesthetic~ for a background, you can make sure there aren’t any traffic cones, wet floor signs, or weird ads. Your background doesn’t have to be plain or boring, but just make sure it’s intentional.

L stands for lighting!

If you’re working with a phone, chances are you don’t have a proper lighting set up. That doesn’t mean you have to settle. The most important thing is to try to find even lighting, so your subject is lit uniformly, with no shadows or bright spots on their face or body. Next, try to aim for diffused lighting, like sunlight through clouds, a shade awning, or even a tinted window. Generally, you want to avoid bright lights behind your subject, as this will create a silhouette and hide any outfit details.

E stands for embarrassing!

Next you want to look for anything your subject might regret taking a picture of later. This includes quick hair or make-up fixes, visible undergarments, twisted jewelry, and visible convention badges. Since your subject might not have a full length mirror, it’s a job that only you can do for them!

P stands for pose/position!

Finally, help your subject with their pose or positioning. If you can, ask your subject if there’s anything they want to show off or that they’re sensitive to. Try to help them find a pose that is natural and suits their look. Make sure you’re looking through the camera so you can see what you’re capturing. Don’t cut off their head, feet, or arms. You can touch them (with permission) or demonstrate the pose you’re thinking of. Try to show your subject a few photos before end your mini shoot so they can tell you what changes they’d like in subsequent pictures.

This is definitely the hardest part to help, but with some practice you can learn what your friends are looking for in their photos.

While these tips aren’t going make you a professional photographer, but they can help you give your friends and community members they best photos you can provider. And hey, maybe you can send this to your friends so they can return the favor…



  1. I know that this will ruin the cutest acronym, but may I add one more? It could be a BLEAP, with the A standing for angle – not too high and not too low, if in doubt keep the camera level with the subject’s waist.

    1. Jenna S says:

      I did have a few other people suggest that! I think that fits under pose/position but it’s definitely a key point.

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