My guides always look at me quizzically when I tell them that the whitewater photographer position is the best job at Kern River Outfitters. But it’s true. There’s solitude. You’re outside in the sun. You get to hike to big rapids. You capture the most exciting part of the day for our guests. And seeing their reaction when they view their photos is rewarding too. They’re stoked. When these happy guests purchase their photos, we send them every photo we took that day of their raft. Over the years I’ve learned some easy tricks to making these fun moments really stand out.
Below are my top three.
1. Your audience cares about the people in the photo. Not necessarily the whitewater.
What this means is when you’re selecting a photo to share, focus on being able to recognize the people in the raft. A single shot of a raft getting buried in whitewater doesn’t mean much to friends and family, but when it’s a photo where they recognize the participants, that will capture their attention.
The guy located front-right of this raft is going to get some Instagram love. Click the image to expand.
Same raft taken a couple frames before the other image. It’s a cool photo but it can be anyone in there.
2. Make a slight crop to hone in on expressions.
A small crop can go a long way if done correctly. Be careful to not overdue it though as you don’t want to diminish the context of the photo.
A small crop can have a big impact. Click the image to expand.
Original photo. Much harder to see everyone’s expression. Click the image to expand.
3. Use an automatic editor.
Professionals are going to cringe at this, but for myself and 99% of users, this is probably my best tip. Photo editors have come a long way, and the software behind them is smart. Really smart. The auto adjust feature in Google Photos is outstanding. For Photoshop users, the go-to tool is under Adjustments -> HDR Toning. Typically, what these tools will do for whitewater photos is they will make the photos appear warmer (saturation slightly up) and it will remove shadows. Take a look below by moving the slider.
Have fun with it. If you purchased photos from 2016 forward we keep the originals backed up indefinitely so you can’t lose these memories or over-edit your originals into oblivion. And sometimes a picture doesn’t need to be touched.