Five Tips to Being a Better Photographer in 2010

filed under: Miscellaneous on January 1, 2010

I say that tongue in cheek, as I do not consider myself a great photographer, or even a good one half the time.  But I love photography, and love learning new things that help me to be better.

I am even taking a PhotographerMAMA class with the world famous Rialee Photography.  It begins in 6 days, 2 hours, and 45 minutes.  Not that I am counting down the seconds or anything.  

I am so exctied to learn more about f-stops and aperture and the rule of thirds.

But for now, I would like to share with you a few tips that have gotten me from wretched to somewhat  acceptable

1. Turn off your flash. 

You have heard this a million times.  Now this time, do it.  Go get your camera and find the setting that has the little lightening bolt and turn it off. 


The first picture is with a flash and the second is without.  Now, I should have chosen a different location because there was enough light to diffuse the flash a bit here, but for the most part you can see how ‘washed out’ or over-exposed Parkers face is. 

I try to avoid washed out.  Thats why I avoid mirrors when possible.

2.  Look at pictures you love.  Then ask yourself, what do I love about it? (seriously)


(I am using my own pictures simply because there are copyrights on most of the pictures I adore)

I love this picture of Parker.  But what do I love about it?

His eyes are the focus.

The background is blurry.

The lighting is good.

So now when I am taking pictures I try to remember these things.


3. Zoom In. 

Get close. 

(any guesses as to what she is eating?)

Here is a regular old picture. 


Here is the same picture after I zoomed in on (cropped) what I really find interesting.  Which one do you prefer?


This also leads to tip 3.5… cropping.  Even if you cant always zoom in as close as you like, try cropping your picture to have only the main subject in it.  Most free editing programs allow you the option of cropping. 


4. Keep shooting. 

Just keep clicking away.  Most of us are shooting digital.  This wonderful invention allows you the option of just snapping away at your hearts content. 

You can go back and review pictures on your camera and delete as many as you want or you can download to your computer and sort them there.

I often take 100 pictures and only like 10 of them.


I had to shoot all
of these before I got one I really liked.



5. What is your perspective? 

I know that sounds cheesy, but try and keep it in your mind as you are taking pictures.  Ask yourself, “How can I make this picture different or more interesting?  What is MY perspective?”

Challenge yourself a bit.

I often find myself doing the same old shot with my kids.  Line them up in front of something and make them smile.

Instead, try a different  point of view. 

Lay on the floor and shot from below.  Have them look at you and smile, then move 5 feet to the left.  They are still looking straight ahead, but you now have a side view.  Zoom in on one persons face.  Ask them to look at each other. 


Try one or all of these and let me know if it makes a difference.

I know I hope to be able to report back to you in approximately 8 days, 2 hours, and 15 minutes that I am a changed woman. 

Oh, and that I take better pictures too. 😉

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  • Liz says:

    Great tips! I can’t wait until I have enough money for a nicer camera, but I do have a decent one now. I love taking pics from the floor! Such a fun and different perspective! Thanks for the tips!

  • Sonya says:

    Great tips!!

  • carma says:

    I hope that your class is all that you expected – and more! Thanks for the tip about the flash. I always check to make sure the flash is on “auto” – doh!! But when I turn the flash off, I get the “shake shake” warning…And now for the comment I just e-mailed you to no-reply blogger – again! (I do that all the time):
    thank you for your honest assessment of my new sneaks….an honest friend is the best kinda friend to have; and also thank you for your sweet comment about VC. He’s a busy guy! Hope you are having a delightful New Year so far…

  • sue says:

    Something else that’s good in your pictures of your kids is that you are typically down on their level when you take the picture.

  • Christina says:

    Thanks for the great tips!
    I do some of them, but some were new to me.
    I can’t wait to read about how your class goes.
    By the way you are a great photographer!!

  • Amanda Rettke says:

    Thats a very astute observation Sue!!  Thank you for pointing that out!
    Blessings to you!

  • gianna says:

    seriouslY? you would do that for me? oh, i am so honored! you are only too cool! you will be on my list to call!!!!!!

  • Carrie says:

    awesome pics! I take over a 100 too, because I am usually able to get 1 or 2 good ones 😉 I don’t generally like a flash either. I wish I could take all my pictures outside! Great tips! Now…can you tell my kids to help me out a little? That would be so much easier! haha!

  • Carrie @ Martin Manor says:

    awesome pics! I take over a 100 too, because I am usually able to get 1 or 2 good ones 😉 I don’t generally like a flash either. I wish I could take all my pictures outside! Great tips! Now…can you tell my kids to help me out a little? That would be so much easier! haha!

  • Ria says:

    Ummm… yah. You are officially teaching the class WITH me next weekend. How do you feel about that. I’m going to have to make you stay after class to give you some “top-secret” info or something because I’m afraid you’ll be bored to tears with the class. And also… when did I become “world famous”?????

  • mrs. buckster says:

    excellent tips, mama! you have mad picture clicking skills!

  • The Lumberjack's Wife says:

    Nice tips! I just got a Nikon D40 and don’t know how to use it well. I am hoping to become a more experienced picture taker this year!

  • Amy says:

    Great tips! I especially like #5. I have been doing that for a bit as well as ‘candid’ shots. Who can make a 18 month old boy sit still and look at the camera or at least look like he is sitting still? Maybe you will find that bit of information out this weekend at your class! So excited for you! I thought about signing up for one of her classes as well. Lucky you!

  • Christie says:

    Love your tips. I struggle to get the light right indoors with the flash off, would love some more tips for lighting. Oh, and how to catch toddlers who move way to fast and have absolutely no interest in posing!

  • Tara says:

    I don’t think you have heard from me yet but I have been following your blog for a little while now. You are hilarious, brilliant, talented, inspiring, and so much more. I am sooo excited to know that you will be at the Ria workshop tomorrow!! I will be there also! I get to meet the “world famous” photographer and Amanda all in one weekend, how great is that! Also wanted to let you know that I just ordered the book “Grace Based Parenting”, thanks for sharing. Can’t wait for this weekend!!