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Easy Photography Tips for Beginning Photographers

Tonya Prater, Owner

Disclosure: I received this camera in exchange for sharing my thoughts with you. All opinions are my own and I may have cried and jumped up and down just a little when I received it because I like the Z series travel cameras from Panasonic that much. This post also contains affiliate links.

Easy Photography Tips for Beginning Photographers

I used to read blog posts and be amazed by the photography skills of the bloggers. I’ve realized that it wasn’t always because their photography was THAT good, it was because mine was THAT bad. Yep. I’ve always loved to take photos. And I’ve taken thousands of them over the years, but if one turned out really well, nine times out of ten it was pure luck. Just to prove how bad I really was, I’ll share a couple photos so you can marvel at the transformation.

Check this one out. Who wants to begin telling me what’s wrong with this image? Pretty bad, huh? And yes, this was a digital camera. And yes, this did end up saved under my vacation photos. What was I thinking?

My beautiful picture

Not convinced that I couldn’t take photos? I’ll show you another.

bad butterfly picture
Ummm…yeah…have I sufficiently demonstrated my ability, or lack of yet?

My daughter, who has always had an eye for photography, tried to be kind to me and offer me some tips at first, but then she may have gotten a bit frustrated that I didn’t catch on very quickly. Imagine my surprise when she was glancing through my Instagram feed a couple months ago and remarked, “Hmmm…you have some really good photos here.”

My head may have swelled just a bit. But before you get the wrong idea and think I’ve become all prideful, allow me to add a disclaimer. I don’t consider myself a pro, but I have learned a thing or two over the past seven years that I’ve been blogging. And it doesn’t hurt that one of my friends happens to be a photojournalist and is generous with her advice. That, and I’ve gleaned tips from other experts along the way. Enough that now when I take a really good photo, I’m convinced that nine times out of ten, it’s NOT on accident.

If you’re reading this and you are in the same spot I was in a few years ago, don’t fret. This post is for you. I’m going to share some really easy photography tips that have helped me tremendously.

Easy Photography Tips for Beginning Photographers

  1. Don’t be afraid to photograph your subject from different angles. 

Boring Barn

To demonstrate this tip, I went outside to take a few photos of our barn. Here it is looking straight at it. It’s not a horrible photo. It’s clear. A little dark, but not too bad. But it is a bit boring.

Barn Pictures 1

Barn Pictures part 2
So I took more photos from different angles to see which photo I liked best. Which one do you find more appealing?

Boring Barn 7
I like the photo that shows the barn just peeking over the hill with the tree for interest. Six barn photos. None of them terrible, but one definitely more appealing and interesting than the others. Which leads me to my next tip.

2. When you photograph your subject, crop the photo nice and tight. 

Vinnie 1

Here is a photo of my dog sitting in the grass. Not a horrible photo, but not great either.

Vinnie 2

By zooming in nice and tight and showing just a portion of his body, I’m able to create a more interesting photo. You’ll also want to note the placement of my dog. This is what is known as the rule of thirds, my next tip.

3. Learn the rule of thirds. 

The rule of thirds is intended to improve composition and balance in your photos. Basically, this means you divide your photo into thirds. Confused? I know. This can be confusing, but this is what it looks like.



Oscar Photo

The idea is to place the subject in your photo on the intersecting grid lines. There are several ways you can do this.


oscar no grids

What happens if you don’t use this rule when shooting your subject? No problem. I use an online photo editing tool, like PicMonkey to slightly edit my photo. The free version is sufficient, but I love the features of the Royale membership so I pay $4.99 a month for the service.

not rule of thirds

You can see how I’ve edited the photo to crop it on the intersecting lines for better composition. It’s not perfect, but it does make for a better photo.

oscar with grids

And here is the final photo. What do you think?

oscar close up

4. Learn to see things differently from other people. 

I go on a lot of press trips, which means I have a lot of people taking photos of the same thing. Learn to look at things differently. Either step back, zoom in, or try looking for a different angle.

Boring Tree 1Don’t be afraid to mess around a bit.

Boring Tree 2

5. Bend, stoop and lay on the ground if you have to.

This isn’t a very interesting photo. Who wants to see a log, right?

Boring Log 1
But if you crouch down, you’ll see more than a log. This photo is much more interesting. I only wish I’d gotten a close up photo of that slug in the lower right corner of the log.

Boring log 2The log is no longer an ordinary log.

6. Use the macro setting when taking close up photos.

I thought I’d struck gold when I learned this tip. It’s so easy! When taking a photo of something close up, make sure you set your camera to the macro setting. The macro setting is the tulip looking flower button that you’ll find on your camera. It makes all the difference in the world. Here’s an example of a photo I took not using the macro setting:

Dandelion 1

And here’s a photo of the same flower with the macro setting. I also followed one of the other tips that I’ve taught you. Do you know what it is?

Dandelion 2
Yep. It’s the rule of thirds. See what a difference that makes?

7.  Two words. Golden. Hour.

If you don’t remember any of the other tips I’ve shared, remember this. Golden hour is the magical hour after sunrise and before sunset when the light is soft and well, golden. This is an awesome time to take photos. Take this photo for example.

not golden hour

Here’s a look at the same scene about 45 minutes after sunrise.

Golden Hour

See how soft the light is? I could have waited a few more minutes for things to really brighten up, but I was a bit impatient.

8. Invest in a great point and shoot camera.

Panasonic Lumix ZS60 is a great point and shoot camera that will grow with you

There are many camera options to choose from, but one of my favorites is the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 and this is why.

The size.

I have a DSLR camera that I lug around when I travel, and though I really love the camera it tends to get heavy so I often find myself leaving the camera at home and taking my smartphone. But there are times when I really want a great camera. The Panasonic Lumix ZS60 is a great travel camera. It’s compact, I can easily slip it inside my purse or jacket pocket and yet it has some features that my more advanced camera lacks. I’ll start with the zoom.

The zoom.

This camera has 30x zoom, folks. That is some serious zoom power. I can’t get that kind of zoom with my DSLR unless I’m toting around an extra lens and that adds more weight. Here’s an example of that zoom. You probably can’t tell, but there are birds on the roof of the barn. Do you see them?
Barn with birds

How about now?
Barn with birds 2
That’s the kind of zoom I’m talking about. This zoom (the same as the predecessor Lumix Z640– which was ah-mazing!) was the difference between me seeing my son march across the field at his boot camp graduation or him blending in with every other airman in the ceremony. I used my camera like a binocular and zoomed in until I found him and then I took some amazing photos.

BMT graduationIsn’t this better? This. This makes a mama’s heart smile. (Blur added to protect the identities of the other airmen in the service).

Josh BMT

Built in Wi-Fi. 

You may ask why a camera would need Wi-Fi. For this social media influencer, it means time. This camera saves me time. I can snap a photo with my camera and using the Panasonic Image App I can easily transfer photos from my camera to my cell phone using the built-in Wi-Fi. This allows me to add photos to my Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram effortlessly. Gone are the days I need to spend time uploading my photos to my computer to share. For this blogger, this feature is golden.

High Speed Auto Focus. 

Yep. This camera can snap amazing action photos using the 4K photo and video settings. 4K means the resolution is four times better than high definition which makes for some pretty clear photos.

4K Video Recording. 

I’m not one to shoot a lot of video, though that’s going to change. Another great feature is that if I am shooting video, I can go back and edit the video and pull still photos from the video. How cool is that?

Post Focus. 

Are you in a hurry to capture that great photo? You can snap the picture and then set the focus later. Does it get any better?

Creative Control. 

Apply a number of different filters to achieve the look you’re going for. Expressive, Monochrome, Retro, High Key and Low Key are only a few of the features.

barn- filter
This camera will grow with you. 

There are so many features that I love about this camera- and so many I have yet to discover. But the best part about this camera is that it can grow with you. Use this camera on the auto setting and as you become more comfortable, stretch yourself and give the manual setting a try.

Are you in the market for a new point and shoot camera? I hope you’ll consider the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 and love it as much as I do. This camera is available to purchase online at both Amazon or Ritz Camera.

Have you tried this camera? What features do you love? 

PicMonkey Photo editing made of win


Saturday 7th of May 2016

Hi Tonya. I truly enjoyed this - and that's the cutest cat ever! I am actually looking for a mid-range camera - something between a phone and a DSLR for hiking and canoe trips. I am always worrying about my DSLR on these types of vacations, so I usually leave it behind and then I'm so disappointed when my phone takes bad photos.

Anyway, these are really good tips. I'm a huge fan of the macro setting on my camera! Protection Status
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