How to Take a Good Photo on Your New Camera -A Beginner's Guide

Ok my friends, so the good news is that I'm not a professional photographer :-)

Style Me Pretty

That's good because I can RELATE to all of you out there that SIMPLY want to know how to use your new camera to take a better photo than you did with your snap and shoot!  

SO, here are some very basic and simple tips, but I promise you, if you apply them to your photos they are going to ROCK!  

Simple and Basic Tricks That Will Change Your Photos Forever!

1.)  Take outdoor shots with either early morning light or late evening light as the sun is setting.

You will not BELIEVE the pictures you can get with this light.  You hardly have to try and they will turn out amazing.

Sun was just about to set - the "golden" hour!

Worst time to try to take photos?

When the sun is directly on top of you - say, noon.  If you do end up taking photos at noon, make sure your subject is in the shade and you can turn that harsh direct light into something softer.

2.) ALWAYS (this is SO important!!!!)  shoot in a position where the person has "catchlights" or sparkle in their eyes. (Yes, yes, there are exceptions to this rule, but this is a very good place to start.)

A catchlight is the white flecks (sparkle) that you can see in someones eyes when they reflect the sun/sky.  Your portrait photos will never come to life without that fleck.  They can be cool photos - but they don't come to life.  So be sure that light is on their face AND you can see that white fleck.

Have them tilt their heads or move slightly to a different spot till you find it, but ignoring that catchlight can make or break the AWE factor to your photo.


My Brother....see the catchlight? :-)

Too much of his face is in the shadows and not enough catchlights!

Great examples of photo's MISSING the catchlights - they aren't bad photos but they definitely don't have that sparkle or AWE quality to them.

Can you see the difference it makes when you can catch that sparkle??

3.) Get a lens that has a LOW aperture setting. That means buying a lens that goes F / 2.0 or lower.  My favorite portrait lens is a Canon 50mm f/1.8 .  They are around 120.00 and worth every penny.

When you shoot with a low aperture setting, you will get that fuzzy background (bokeh) which is vital for a good portrait shot.  BE CAREFUL though, as a rule of thumb, you do not want your aperture to have a smaller number than the people in the shot.  So if you have two people in your picture, make sure you set your aperture somewhere in the 2's, and three people in the 3's etc.  If you don't do this and shoot a lower number aperture than number of people, one of the subjects in the photo will almost always be blurry.

You can see how low of an aperture the lens you have goes by setting your camera to Aperture Priority mode (A or AV on the program dial).  Now turn the select dial that shows you your F stop to the lowest it will let you go.  That number is it :-)  If yours doesn't go super low, don't worry, you still have a great lens, it's just harder to get that fuzzy background. (and save up for that 50mm 1.8 lens above!)

As far as my OWN setting on my camera - this is what I almost always keep it at:

I shoot 90% of my photos on the Aperture Priority mode (A or AV).

I shoot automatic focus.

I shoot in Jpeg format in a large size

If it's outdoors or indoors on a sunny day, I shoot in the SHADE white balance setting because it gives such a warm feel to my photos.

If I ever see that my shutter speed goes below 1/30 (of a second) I change the ISO setting (higher) so that my photos will not be blurry.  (the shutter speed is how fast that shutter clicks, so the longer it stays open in a second, the more likely you will get a blurry photo because of potential movement)

4.) Don't forget to get close to your subject if you want a more dynamic look.
I hope this helps those who just want some simple tips on getting those amazing shots that are possible with your new camera.  Go back and check your photos to see if you do the tips, if you don't, get ready to take your photo's to the next level!

See my tip for taking amazing Chirstmas light photos too!

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  1. Hi
    Great tips for a non-professional photographer like me. I just bought the 50 mm 1.8 and I love it. I have 6 granddaughters and I will be using your tips this summer for our annual photo shoot! Thanks for sharing.
    Betty @ My Cozy Corner

    1. Oh you will SO enjoy taking pictures of the grandkids this summer with that lens! Six granddaughters - that's awesome :-) Buy them cute hats or flowered headbands for grandma's picture taking - ha!

      Best of luck

  2. Great tips Selina! I can't wait for it to warm up so I can take pictures outside!

    1. No kidding, I thought Spring was coming and just yesterday, we got a pile of snow again - AHHH!

  3. some really great tips! loved the reflection in the eyes tip! stunning shots.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Learning some basic simple tips on how to use your digital camera can really be fun :-)

  4. Love that picture and incredible. :-) You did a great job.


Thank you for your comments! I read them ALL and appreciate them. If you are asking a question be sure and leave your email, it will help me be able to contact you if you need a response. :-)

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