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Six (Easy!) Steps to Improve Your Photos

May 17, 2011

Written by Contributing Writer, Sarah Farthing


Discussing exposure, aperture and shutter speed can be confusing and frustrating when you just want to take great pictures as your family’s photographer.  I am no expert, but I have taken over 25,000 pictures in the last three years.  I love it that much.

Here is a list of helpful hints I’ve received, all of which really did improve my shooting:

  • Take More Pictures: Simply increasing the number of pictures you’re taking by picking up your camera more often virtually guarantees that you will end up happy with more pictures than you are now.  Do a little experiment for a month and aim to double or even triple how many pictures you usually average.
  • Shoot Continuously: Set your camera mode to continuous shooting.  This setting lets you hold your finger down on the shutter to shoot multiple pictures in rapid succession.  My camera is always on continuous.  You can weed out the open mouth/closed eyes/nose pick and choose an image snapped just seconds before or after and nobody is the wiser!

  • Steady Your Camera: (Which might mean steadying yourself.)  Camera shake is responsible for a lot of blurry pictures.  Hold your hand up in the air right now.  Can you hold it perfectly still or is it moving?  That little movement can have a big effect on an image, especially in low light.  If you can, bring your camera to your face and use your camera’s window instead of holding your hands out away from your body.  Plant your feet solidly and about shoulder width apart or try leaning against a wall or chair.  I was personally amazed at how my pictures changed when I focused on steadying my camera.
  • Pay Attention to Light: It is not easy to get great pictures in low light and light that is very yellow can color your images.  Adjusting blinds, changing where you are standing and positioning subjects so that they are well lit can have a big impact on how well your pictures turn out.  I like to take a few pictures of ‘nothing’ before I start shooting subjects in a room to give me an idea of what angle will give me the most light and the best pictures.   Natural light is your friend!  If you are not outside in it, try to shoot with plenty of it at your back, so that it’s illuminating what you’re trying to capture.
  • Frame Your Shot:  You wouldn’t snap a picture of four friends seated at a table if there were a row of 2 liter soda bottles directly in front of them.  There are many more subtle distractions that lessen the quality of an image.  A t.v. turned on in the background, nametags, bright or reflective objects nearby, clothing that’s askew…   Before you snap, do a quick sweep with your eye of the whole frame, not just the faces you’re after.  Stepping to the side, zooming in or out and moving a few objects can easily make the difference between a quick picture and a memorable image someone could frame.
  • Focus First, Then Re-Frame: This little trick is fantastic and allows you to take some really appealing pictures with your subject off-center.   First aim directly at your subject and click half-way to engage your auto-focus.   Without letting up on your shutter button, re-frame your shot and then click the rest of the way.  Your subject stays in focus and you get a more interesting picture!

*If you already have and use a digital SLR camera, consider upgrading to a 50 mm lens, they will take all your pictures to a new level!

What is the best photography tip you’ve ever been given?

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4 Comments »

  1. Julie R.

      on May 17, 2011 9:47 am

    my simple hint is to get closer to your subject. I find that myself and many of my family and friends are afraid to get into someone’s “space” to get a good picture. We compare shots after the same event and they are much happier with my shots – not because they are anything great – but just because I got closer and was able to get expressions, details, etc. When I take a photo I think about how I crop photos at home with my software, what I take out, etc. and just try to do it in the moment instead.

     

  2. Matt

      on May 17, 2011 10:58 am

    Thanks for the great tips. I shoot all my pics with my phone, and four of these tips still are likely to improve my shots.

     

  3. Sarag

      on May 17, 2011 11:19 am

    Since our camera broke we are relying on our phones and I find the “hold steady” tip to be the most help–and the reminder to just take more pictures is important too! Thanks so much!

     

  4. Fatima

      on May 18, 2011 6:58 am

    They are really great and useful tips :)
    I like them and definitely will use them, although I use my iphone to capture photos.

    I used to capture the photos by changing a little bit my iphone to a specific angle which leads to perfect pics especially when I take photos for my babies’ faces. The results will be wonderful.

     

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