[how to] get the best pictures from your camera

posted on: 6.28.2012

Whether you own a point & shoot or a DSLR, I'm gonna tell you how to get the best pictures from your camera (how I do it, anyways). This is for everyone—from the occasional blogger to the aspiring photographer.

1. Train your eyes to see // when you wake up in the morning the first thing you do is open your eyes to see. Look around you & capture (with your mind) something that you like or find interesting. You have an advantage that your camera doesn't: you have two eyes while your camera has one.

2. Read the camera's instructions manual // seems logical but the truth is the majority of us don't do this. How will you know about all the things your camera can do if you don't read the manual? Even if you know the basics, each camera comes with a set of unique features. I carry the little thing everywhere! my motto: "When in doubt, read the manual".

3. Don't "spray and pray" // spray & pray is a term that some photographers use to refer to taking a lot of continuous pictures without putting much thought into the shots. While continuos shooting is good when you're about to capture a moment, it is not attractive when you're just hoping to get shots that are worth it. Put a little more effort in composing & creating the shot. Some cameras enable the grid in live view which is really useful when using the rule of thirds to compose a shot.

4. Treat your digital camera as a film camera // let's face it, the digital age has changed the way we approach taking pictures. We have memory cards that give us the power to shoot without limitations. One of the greatest things I've learned from film photography is that I need to know when to stop.
With film cameras, you only get 24 or 36 exposures in one sitting. Most of the time, I'll use 1 roll of film for multiples occasions. I challenge you to just give yourself 24 exposures on your digital camera. You will force yourself to make each picture count (this will also help keep your image files to a minimum & avoid deleting in camera).

5. Stop relying on PS, LR and PicMonkey // while image softwares are not sinful, the easy access to them has made us think the following: picture - image software = worthless. Not true. Adding a filter to a picture will not always make it magazine worthy. You can shoot a picture and wow your audience without editing, otherwise know as SOOC  (straight out of the camera). I know plenty of photographers that never alter their images, like Millie Clinton. Other photo enthusiasts just do minor adjustments. Taza from Rockstar Diaries lives by just iPhoto alone, a Mac software for organizing picture; 100% of her pictures are SOOC with minor color adjustments done in iPhoto. This means that composition is all done in camera.

6. Take your camera everywhere // now that you've [hopefully] practiced the principles above you are ready to shoot. Take your camera to breakfast; take your camera grocery shopping; take your camera to the gym; take your camera on a road trip; take your camera to a park; take your camera to your friend's birthday. Of course, don't be careless with it! Just make sure to have it nearby if you see something. You don't want to miss out on a memory. (Don't be so focused on taking pictures that you miss enjoying the moment either!)

7. Don't spend a lot of time looking at photo blogs // I want to encourage you to shoot the things that are special, valuable and unique about you & your life. Admiring other photo blogs is a great to support other photographers and normal people, but sometimes we might be tempted to want to a copy from them or shoot what they like. Admiration can quickly turn into jealousy—and even worse, you might be tempted to compare your work with theirs. Don't allow yourself to fall into this. Every journey of picture taking is different and comparing will not do accurate justice. Try what works for you.

16 Smiles:

  1. I love this post! I am a photographer and I totally agree with everything you are saying here. I take my camera everywhere with me, obnoxious at times? maybe, but I have fun and get great shots!


  2. This is great, loved the post! But If I might like to add another bullet:

    8. If you do decide to share your images through any website or online community, be open to critique. Recognize that someone who destroys your photographs with critique is solely aiming to your work, not your feelings. A good critic might point out the flaws, the achievements, and also ask of you a little backstory and conceptual explanation. Taking critique well can help your images next time you put yourself behind the lens. But, above all you should never let anyone's harsh critique discourage you from making photographs. In the end, what it means to you is what is important.

  3. Fantastic tips for me as a new photographer. Thanks so much!

  4. awesome advice, thanks for this :)

  5. love this post ashley. some great tips in here!

  6. Love this, thanks for sharing, Ashley!

    - Katelyn

  7. I love all these. Seriously, I need to take my camera more places. and I completely agree, adding a filter doesn't make a photo magazine worthy.

  8. Perfection. You nailed it girl! I love these!

  9. This is wonderful! Thank you for this xx

  10. Good tips, makes me want to go out for a walk with my camera.



  11. loved...and needed this post :) thanks for the tips friend!

  12. these are timeless tips, thank you so so much for sharing these with us;) helpful for me, as I am such a newbie! I am starting to evolve more creatively more than I ever have in my life--since my blog i'm sure---so these are so wonderful.

  13. wonderful tips! i have to admit - i have never read my camera manual. fail. but maybe i'll try now!

  14. tip # 7 is great. it's something I hold on to so that I don't get mixed up with what others see and trust that what I see really IS unique and different!
    thanks for sharing these


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