6 tips to take better photos

Since last week we talked about what photos to take during the holidays, this week I’m going to give you a few tips to help you out. You don’t have to have a fancy camera—a point & shoot or a phone camera will work, too. Remember, the goal is to record the moment!


Don’t be afraid of low-light

Low-light is the bane of our existence…until you learn how to deal with it. Some of my favorite photos have been shot in low-light! Try to avoid using a pop-up flash or the automatic flash on the front of your camera or phone camera. It’s a very unflattering look for your subjects (deer-in-the-headlights anyone?). Try using other light sources such as lamps or overhead lights. If it means missing the photo or using the flash, USE THE FLASH! Don’t miss photos trying to make them perfect. You can try to soften flash by using a big piece of white paper in front of it or putting a white plastic cup on top of a pop-up flash. It will spread the light out some for you. You could also try shooting earlier in the day. Go outside or open your curtains. Window light can be beautiful!

Using a tripod will help more than you can imagine especially if you aren’t using flash. It will allow you to adjust your camera settings to let more light into your camera. It doesn’t have to just be a tripod…anything stable that you can put your camera on will work. When hand-holding your camera in low-light, your photos will more than likely be blurry. This is because your shutter is open longer making you and your subject stay absolutely still. Having your camera on a tripod will reduce this, usually eliminating it altogether.

6 tips to take better photos

Window Light: Window camera left and one behind. A reflector was used camera right to help fill in shadows on his face.

6 tips to take better photos

Low-light: Using a tripod and slow shutter speed, you can get some pretty fireworks shots!


Take pictures of the details

We get so caught up in everything going on that we forget the little things. Get some close-ups of your favorite ornaments. Stack some cookies that you made for your neighbor, tie them with a ribbon, and take a photo of it. Be creative with it…detail shots can be made of anything!  They help tell the story of the day. Using the macro setting on your camera can help with this, too. Don’t be hesitant to drag out your tripod for this either!

6 tips to take better photos

Baby feet are a must-have detail shot from every newborn session I do.

6 tips to take better photos

Not all detail shots have to be close-ups. Details can just be the little pieces that help tell your story.


Change your perspective

Not every picture has to be zoomed out to include the whole room, nor do they all have to be extreme close-ups. Change it up a little!  Go ahead and get the shots you are comfortable with and then either move in or move out, whatever is opposite of what you did for the first shot.

Be aware of what is around your subject. If you are outside posing near some trees, look in your viewfinder to make sure Aunt Lisa doesn’t have a tree growing out of the top of her head. If she does, then move yourself around. Try to eliminate anything you don’t want in the final photo by moving yourself or your subject if you need to. Trust me on this! Once you print your photos and you see power lines interrupted by your dad’s head, that will be ALL you see every time you look at it!

Another idea is to get down on your kid’s level.  Meaning get in the grass with them and shoot from their perspective! Also, try not to put your subject dead center in every photo…you may just like what you come up with. 😉 The point is to move around and get different angles.

6 tips to take better photos

If you are always shooting from up above, get down low and see what you get then.

6 tips to take better photos

Instead of zooming out, zoom in and vice versa.


The sun is not always your friend

Yes, you can shoot in the sun and get beautiful photos! But when you are first learning, I think it’s easier to avoid harsh light. Find some shade—nice big, open shade, not the sun splotchy kind. This will help you have even light on your subjects and help avoid raccoon eyes from the harsh overhead light. You can also time photos for after sunrise or right before sunset. It’s really beautiful! It’s called Golden Hour for a reason and photographers love it!  I use an app on my phone called Sun Surveyor (not getting paid for this…it’s just an app I really love!) so I will know the best times for this kind of light.

6 tips to take better photos

See? I told you it was beautiful light!

6 tips to take better photos

This was actually during golden hour and in open shade.


Don’t be afraid of cloudy, overcast days—or rain!

Clouds act as a natural diffuser, softening the sunlight. It can be a little flatter so if you take along a big piece of white poster board, you can use it to reflect some light back on your subject. Overcast days have a nice, even light. You can even shoot in light rain (more expensive cameras are usually watertight so use your best judgment here). You can put your camera in a zip lock and cut a hole for the lens and snap away! Again, use your best judgment when in different weather conditions.

6 tips to take better photos

Overcast days can give some pretty light too!

6 tips to take better photos

See how even the light falls on his face?


If that seems like an insurmountable task, go to YouTube and see if your camera has any how-to videos (let’s face it…camera manuals are pretty dry lol). If there is one golden nugget of advice I can give you, it is this! I can tell you step-by-step how to do something but if you don’t know how to operate your camera, it won’t do you any good. A lot of manuals give you tips as well. Manuals can read like Greek sometimes, but don’t worry…there are a lot of 3rd party books out there that are great! I use them for my camera, too! It was a great investment as I refer to it anytime I have a question.

6 tips to take better photos

Because he’s so dang cute! This is a sleeping dragonfly that I happened upon in my backyard one morning. I never would have been able to get this shot had I stayed standing and not getting way low to the ground.

I hope this helps you this year! After the rush of the holidays, take some time and read your manual (or other camera book). Watch some YouTube videos and get to know your camera. PRACTICE! what you learn. Feel free to ask if you need help—just drop me a message. I’d love to see your photos as well!

Free photo checklist for the rest of the year!