How to Take Awesome Photos

I get so frustrated when looking at friends pictures when they post on Facebook and the image is either off centered, blurry, or too dark. To top it all off, it's not just one picture.. but an entire album full of crappy pics. You really don't need to be a professional to take decent pics to upload online. If you like taking photos, taking a few minutes to learn how to take them in the first place should be a priority.

Just cuz you have the tools to build a house, it doesn't mean you can just build it. Maybe you can half ass it, but it will look like shit. You need to learn how to do it properly so that the end result will be a beautiful house. Photos are the same. It doesn't matter if you are using a point and shoot digicam, 35mm, DSLR, or even a camera phone - there are always 6 things to remember. The following is like the rules of photography and you should memorize it. I am not a professional, so take this guide with a grain of salt.


This is the single most important part of any picture. Unless you are doing some sort of artistic photo, you will want as much light as possible. Outside, be wary of shaded areas. Indoors, find a good light source and make sure it's facing across from the subject. Why is lighting so important? There are two reasons.

    a) You can use a lower ISO setting making the image look sharp
    b) There is enough light entering the camera lens that it can use a fast shutter speed. Therefore, hand shaking movement will not blur the image.

It is possible to take a decent picture with low lighting if you use a tripod and the subject stays still - but that is very hard to do. So if available, use the camera flash. For point and shoot cameras, there is generally a thumb wheel with different settings for typical situations such as Landscape, Outdoor, Indoor, Portrait, etc. Use them. I know many people that just set the thumb wheel to AUTO and think every picture will come out perfect. By messing with these settings, the camera will adjust the ISO and shutter speed for better pics.

If you own a DSLR, you have a few more options. Excluding the preset thumb wheel options, you can go into manual mode (M) and change the ISO and Shutter Speed yourself. During low light situations, a high ISO will allow for a faster shutter speed and allow you to take a decent picture. But note that a high ISO will saturate the photo.


Simply put, ISO is how sensitive your camera will be to light sources. The lower the ISO (the lower the sensitivity) the better the picture quality will be. The higher the ISO, your images will be grainy and saturated (most people call this noise).

So why not just put the ISO at the lowest setting for every picture? It's because in low light situations, if you have a low ISO - the camera won't have enough light to use a fast shutter speed. This means when you take the picture, the camera needs more time for enough light to enter the lens and record the picture. As stated previously - this can be achieved using a tripod, but generally you won't have one and your shaky hands will blur the image.

There are no rules set in stone for what ISO setting you need to use for every situations. Hence for point and shoot cameras make sure you use the thumb wheel to pick the scene selection. For DSLR users wanting to use manual mode here is a general idea:

    Outdoor (Sunny): ISO 100
    Outdoor (Cloudy): ISO 200 to 400
    Outdoor (Dark no flash): ISO 800 to 1600
    Outdoor (Dark yes flash): ISO 200 to 400
    Indoor (Bright): ISO 100 to 400
    Indoor (Decent): ISO 800 or higher


Aperture only applies to those of you using DSLR's. You will use aperture to get that blurry background for your portrait shots. We call the blurriness Bokeh. The lower the aperture - the blurrier your background will be. When you are taking a portrait and want the subject to be sharp and the background blurry you will want a f/3.5 or lower.

Shutter Speed

This is simple enough, this is the speed at which your lens shutter will open and close. In other words, it's how fast the picture is taken and the camera records the image into the memory.

High shutter speed allows you take pictures of sport activities such as basketball without having the image blur due to the fast motions of the subjects. Slower shutter speeds are used to take pictures of waterfalls. It will allow the image to record the waterfall as a stream of water instead of droplets.

Shutter speed works hand in hand with ISO, so keep that in mind. What i mean is, if you are indoors in low light situations - you can't have a fast shutter speed and low ISO. This is because there isn't enough light entering the camera lens. If you do this, your picture will come out black. If you need to take a picture in low light conditions you will have a sacrifice ISO or shutter speed.

Either have a high ISO and fast shutter speed, or you will need a low ISO and slow shutter speed. What is the trade off? With high ISO, your picture will have more noise. With low ISO, you will need a tripod or very steady hands.

Steady Hands

Why are my pictures all BLURRY? Most of the time, it's cuz there isn't enough light, or your hands are moving too much. Hold the base of the camera with your left hand and grip the right side of the camera with your right hand. Hold your breath while your press the button to take the picture.

For those of you who love the ZOOM in your camera, keep in mind the more you zoom, the steadier your hands will need to be. It is better to get closer to the subject.

Focus Point

Cameras these days will generally have two sensitivity settings on the shutter button. When you press it half way down, the camera will focus on a subject and show it to your on the LCD or viewfinder. Make sure it's focusing on the correct subject before taking the picture. I know some people like to just press the button all the way without even focusing properly.

That's it!

Well those are the 6 rules of photography from my perspective. There are plenty more when it comes to taking a great picture - but it's just too much content to write here. Just follow the above and i promise you great pics.

Lastly, I wanted to discuss about a few additional variables you can change to create that perfect photo. Some of these, you can do while you take the photo - but they can also be done on a computer using a photo editing software (Paint Shop, Photoshop, Light Studios, etc.).

I will save the detail for these features for another guide. But by changing a few settings you can make a bland picture - vibrant with colors.

Post processing

    1. Shadows
    2. Temperature
    3. Brightness
    4. Highlights