5 tips for taking great photos

Viewing ocean and beach through the screen of a smart phoneWhen people learn that I’m a professional photographer they’ll often ask me how to take better pictures. Here are some of the tips I like to share:

Know your camera
It’s hard to take a great photograph when you are struggling with camera settings. Professional photographers know their gear inside and out so that the mechanics are second nature and they can focus on the art of photography. Read your manual and then practice and get really comfortable with your camera. When you get an opportunity to create an amazing image but must move quickly, you’ll be glad you don’t have to think twice about your camera settings!

Put away your flash
Your on camera flash is a great tool for low light situations but only pull it out when your really need it. It’s not the prettiest lighting – in fact it’s usually very harsh, and one-dimensional. Often, you can use available light by going to a higher ISO or moving closer to a window or other light source. Learn to look for beautiful light!

Try a different point of view
If every picture you take is made standing with the viewfinder to your eye and pointed directly at your subject, your images can all start to look the same. Choose a lower angle or get a higher perspective. Shoot from the hip. Instead of centering your subject, compose the image so your subject is off to the side of the frame. If you normally shoot everything close up, try a wide-angle shot. Learn to see differently!

Have a camera on your phone? If this is your “go to� camera – and for many people it is- here are a couple of ways to improve those images…

Go into “Settings� and choose the highest resolution offered
Phone cameras often have a default setting of fairly low resolution but when the image is a “keeperâ€� you’ll appreciate the larger size! You probably won’t notice the difference on your camera screen but you will if you transfer the image onto your computer or make a print.

Get in Close
Forget the zoom feature and just get closer. Why? The digital zoom feature on your camera phone just decreases quality by cropping into the image. Also, by filling the frame with your subject you’ll often improve the composition of your image!



About the Author

Beth Wedlake is an adjunct instructor in the Art & Design Department at Community College of Aurora and is currently teaching Digital Photography I. Beth is also a full-time professional photographer and studio owner. She earned an AAS degree in Portrait Photography from Lansing Community College and received the "Brides Choice Award" from Wedding Wire in 2010, 2011 and 2012. You can view an online portfolio of her work.  


  1. Miranda Martinez

    March 26, 2012

    Those are great tips! I like the one about putting the flash away because the lighting is very important when taking a good picture:)

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