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Professional tips: Personalize your photos on Inauguration Day

Thursday - 1/17/2013, 12:43pm  ET

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - If you hope your Inauguration Day photographs will be more than snapshots of companions mugging at your smartphone, a Washington-based photojournalist suggests shooting the unexpected.

"You won't be able to get a good picture of President Obama, you'll be too far away," says Bill Crandall, whose images have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek and PHOTO.

"Shoot your day, your experience and what makes it personal, not necessarily the main action," Crandall recommends.

Given the limits of the smartphone camera lens and its digital zoom function, Crandall suggests focusing on subjects that are easier to access.

"Look for unusual details along the way. Shoot your journey to the event - what kind of unusual characters are out in this kind of carnival atmosphere," Crandall says.

Crandall acknowledges it might be difficult to avoid photographing Obama, even from a distance.

"If the action or main subject is visible, but too far away, play with using a foreground element to create depth. Put something very close to the camera, juxtaposed against what is far away," Crandall advises.

While many people will only take pictures of people they know, Crandall says the results won't be terribly compelling.

"Focus on people's reactions and emotions around you - not just your friends and family, but even strangers probably won't mind if you take their picture," says Crandall, who adds that smartphone photography has become an important part of current culture.

In fact, Crandall recalls an image taken during President Ronald Reagan's funeral procession in 2004.

"Everyone in the crowd had their phone raised high to take a picture. It was a pretty remarkable commentary about how we experience events like these, nowadays."

If you shoot photographs on Inauguration Day that you want to share with WTOP, here's how you can:

  • If you have a Twitter account, tweet your photo using #WTOP.
  • If you follow WTOP on Facebook, message us and attach a file.
  • If you have a photo-sharing account, email your URL to webmail@wtop.com.
  • You also can upload photos to our Inauguration Day photo gallery here.

    Follow @AugensteinWTOP and Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

    (Copyright 2013 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)