digital photography tips | ways to improve your photography

10 Pro Tips to Improve Your Photography
Photography is a fun hobby for me because it’s a constant work in progress. The more classes I take and the more time I spend exploring my camera’s settings, the better my photos become. This is fulfilling because I can look back and see how much I’ve grown. Being able to visually see results is a wonderful thing!

I thought that for my first photography post, I’d talk about how to make your photos more visually appealing because who doesn’t want eye-catching photographs on their website? There’s no need to go out and buy a new DSLR because all of the tips and tricks I’m about to discuss can be applied to a point and shoot camera.

I’m by no means a professional photographer, but here are a few of the photography tips I’ve learned in different classes. I’m constantly thinking about them as I snap away:

Photography Tips and Tricks

1. Rule of thirds

The Rule of Thirds will improve the balance and composition of your photographs. You’ll want to visually split the image into thirds (vertically and horizontally) and place the subject on an intersection or line. This is more visually pleasing than having a subject smack-dab in the middle of your viewfinder. If you need a reminder, some cameras have a grid option you can turn on, but soon enough it should become second nature.

tips to improve your photography

2. Lean into the frame

Having your subject lean into the frame looks more natural, especially when you’re photographing people and animals. In the second photo below, we’re not sure where the subject is going and it almost feels uneasy. Of course you can break this rule if you’re wanting to portray something dramatic.

tips to improve your photography
Rule of thirds in photography

3. Lighting

I never use my camera’s built-in flash because the light is too harsh. I shoot all of my photographs in natural light and when the sky is cloudy or in the early morning/late afternoon. Even when I’m shooting food for one of my (rare) recipe posts, I’ll bring it outside. If you need to photograph an object indoors, use the natural light from a window or adjust your camera’s white balance to achieve natural colors. And if you absolutely need to use your built-in flash, you can use a tissue over it, diffuser or bounce flash device.

tips to improve your photography
This photo was taken in direct sunlight and you’ll notice the distracting shadows on our faces. If you need to photograph someone/something in the middle of the day, find shade or at least position your subject so the sun is lighting up the entire face. You can also purchase a reflector.

4. White balance

Have you ever taken a photo and the colors look too cool or warm? There’s probably an issue with your white balance. Most cameras have a variety of white balance settings and I find these to be more useful than my Nikon’s auto white balance, which isn’t always accurate. Go to your menu and look for the following:
   1. Incandescent – I use this in our apartment because the lighting is too yellow/orange. This will cool down the colors.
   2. Fluorescent – Best used in offices, parking garages, stadiums and anywhere else with fluorescent lighting. This setting will warm up the colors.
   3. Direct sunlight – Use this in direct sunlight when the tones are spread out evenly.
   4. Flash – This add warmth and prevents your flash from being too aggressive.
   5. Cloudy – Use this setting on a cloudy day when you need to add warmth to your photos.
   6. Shade – Use this in shade when you need to add more of a pink/red tone to photos that would otherwise turn out too blue/green.
   7. Manual – You can manually set your white balance by aiming at a white piece of paper, white/grey card.

I also adjust my temperature while I’m editing. I use Lightroom and it’s very simple but makes a huge difference!

Rule of Thirds

        too cool or blue                                              accurate white balance                                     too warm or yellow

5. Shoot in black and white

My instructor suggested I try this and I finally understand why. By switching your camera’s settings to black and white, you begin to think about light differently. How does it impact texture, depth, exposure? These are the things you’ll notice when you shoot in this setting. And who knows? It could spark your creativity as well.

tips to improve your photography

6. Leading lines

Leading lines help control how people view a photograph by bringing their eyes to a subject or by “leading” them through a photograph. You won’t use this all of time, but when the opportunity presents itself it makes for an interesting shot. The lines can be straight or curved – doesn’t matter.

tips to improve your photography leading lines
tips to improve your photography leading lines

7. Tell a single story

My last instructor told me that photography is an art of subtraction. To tell a single story or to communicate a single emotion, you need to get rid of everything else that might be a distraction. Don’t weaken an image by allowing unrelated items to stay in the background.

8. Examine the edges of your viewfinder and the background

Building upon the tip above, examine the background of your subject and the edges of your viewfinder for anything that sticks out. This might mean other people in the background, a street sign, a tree that’s cut off, your finger, etc. Also be aware of distracting colors that could inadvertently become the focal point of your photograph.

tips to improve your photography

9. Avoid eye level shooting and use your feet

Get down in the dirt, stand on a chair, lean up against a rail… get your feet moving! This was the most important “rule” for me to learn and once I got the hang of it, my photography started to improve immediately. Don’t be afraid to get creative. If you’re unsure of which angle you prefer, take multiple shots and then decide on your favorites once you’re editing. And don’t forget to take both vertical and horizontal photographs!

Use different angles in photography
Use different angles in photography
Use different angles in photography

Different angles of a Moroccan cat I fed every day. Which one is your favorite?

10. Look for things that catch your eye

To be a good photographer, you need to see things differently. The next time you’re wandering around a city or enjoying a beautiful countryside, look for the following instead of passing them by:
1. A subject that looks different from everything else (a red tulip in a yellow field)
2. A bright area (a break in the clouds or beam of sunlight on a building/subject)
3. Reflections on the water or on the side of a glass building
4. Patterns and repetition
5. Silhouettes
6. Textures

Thank you for reading my first photography post! I will be adding to this series in the next couple of weeks but feel free to email me any questions you might have. I hope this helps you to improve your photos with these digital photography tips!



Filed Under: Photography97 Comments
  • Amanda

    This was an amazing post! I really enjoyed and tried to internalize a lot of your suggestions! xx

  • My Traveling Troop

    What lovely photos & great tips! I’m hoping to improve my camera skills, so this was very helpful.


  • Aanie

    There are so many awesome tips here! I’m already looking forward to the next post!! Thank you for sharing! :)

    Aanie (from Little Haven & The Active Mum) x

  • The Slow Pace

    Great tips! Thank you so much!

  • Sandie LifeInPositudiness

    Great post Rachel! Thank you so much for sharing what you have learned with us. I just got a new camera, a Nikon too, and you tips are definitely going to help me in using it and making better pictures. I actually never knew what the white balance settings were for exactly, so I never really used them (even with my other cameras). Now that you explained their purposes, I’m definitely going to play around with them!
    I also will take some black and white pics to see if I can learn too about texture, depth and exposure (your picture in this section is really gorgeous).
    Anyways, all I have to say is that I’m so grateful I read your post early this morning because it has inspired me already!

  • Sandie LifeInPositudiness

    Can’t wait for your other tips! ;)

  • Yuen Lim

    Great post!
    I really need photography tips to capture better pictures for my blog! (:
    AND I’m going on vacation soon so this is perfect!

  • Dee

    Awesome tips! Excited to put them to use.

  • Beatriz Ramos

    Great tips and pictures!!

  • Gesci

    You’ve got some great tips here! Especially the advice to shoot in b&w to learn light and composition- we didn’t start working in color film until our 3rd semester, in large part for this reason!

    I will mention that there is a tool (probably many?) that helps with custom white balance. I have the Expodisc. It’s tedious to use if you’re moving around and changing lighting scenarios, but if you’re shooting a lot in similar lighting, it can be quite useful and prevent excess post-processing of your images.

  • Katelyn

    I really appreciate this post. What kind of camera do you use? What kind of lens are would your recommend for the most use?

  • Rachel S

    Thanks for posting this! I have been struggling with the flash thing!

  • Allie

    These tips are really helpful, especially for someone without any photography experience (i.e., me). Thanks for sharing!

  • Katelyn Brown

    Great tips! And I absolutely agree that there’s always so much to learn about photography!

    xoxo, K

  • Dannielle

    great tips Rachel! five years on and I’m starting to learn the settings on my digital slr. Can’t wait for more tips!

  • Katie Keltner

    Great tips, Rachel! It is amazing how many things you need to think about when snapping pictures. It took me a while to get the hang of these things. Some of them come natural to me now, and some I still have to force myself to pay attention to.


  • Sara Elizabeth

    Thank you so much for this!!

  • ThePiccoloPixie

    I take a lot of photos too, although I tend to rely on a basic natural talent and an eye for a good photo than learning rules. However, this post has been very enlightening and I hope to be able to put some of your tips into practice!

    Lydia x

  • Venus Trapped In Mars

    AMAZING!!! I need more, can you do a billion more posts just like this one please please please?!?

  • Sarah Shumate

    I love it, Rachel! Good job! I’ll have to try shooting in B&W. Normally if I want a B&W, I just edit it later – never thought to actually shoot like that.

    My favorite of the cat is definitely the third one! :o)

  • Amy Lee Scott

    Such fabulous advice! The only one I knew anything about was the rule of thirds but I will definitely be practicing the others in the future. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Kaeley @ My Mind’s Lens

    These are all really great tips. I have never actually taken photos in B&W, I always just convert them later. Maybe I will give that one a try!!

  • Asia Reynolds

    Great advice. These are some of the basic rules that every person should know when interested in photo. Love the examples!

  • Dawn Braun

    great post, love the tips!! :) and I like the close up of the cat the best…it has fab lines with that wagon

  • Debbie Buisson

    Woah woah woah! Slow down :) haha, I really want to do a photography class but Luke starts whining when I use the camera. So I stick with my iPhone. Therefore pointless to take the class. I will try incorporate as much of this as possible but I am going to have read this post like 100 times before I can remember it all :) hehe

  • whit | Black Little Button blog

    good job dear! love the photos. I am constantly streaming for new tips, tricks and info!

  • David

    Thanks for the tips. These are great!

  • Mar @ t.o. and fro

    Thanks for this post! Is there any online dsl photography classes you recommend?

    Love the third shot of the cat!


  • Becky K

    LOVE your pictures Rachel! You obviously know how to put these tips into action!


  • Sarah Beth

    Loved this post, I knew a lot of this already but some of it I didn’t. And it’s always good to get reminders!

  • Stephanie C

    Great photos! I’m a “get down low to the ground” person, it could have something to do with the fact that most of my photos are of my kids (5 and 2.5 yrs old) so they are lower to the ground =)


  • -Haylie :)

    I love love LOVE this post so much! Photography is a huge passion of mine and I love learning any and everything I can. :) I’m also very happy you explained the rule of thirds, I always wondered what that meant.

    I love the third photo of the cat. All of your photos are beautiful!

  • Lisette

    Love this! Already pinned for future reference ;)

  • Avalon Cat Cartoons

    I’m in LOVE with that first cat photo. Would you mind if I publish this on my blog Traveling Cats together with a link to your blog?


  • Amanda @ Adventure Year

    Thank you so much for sharing these tips! I’m always looking for ways to make my photography better and, believe me, there is a TON of room for improvement. This definitely helps though! I can’t wait for more posts.

  • Jade

    Thanks so much for these awesome tips! I’ll be putting some to practice this weekend!

  • Ashley

    This post is so great! Every time I take pictures, it’s definitely a learning process, but it really is so much fun. I can’t wait to put some of these tips to use in my next set of pictures! :)


  • Lauren

    I just learned about the Rule of Thirds!! Love this post! Pin!

  • gabrielle

    thank you for sharing these fantastic tips!! i have taken a bunch of photography classes in the past, and it’s nice to be reminded of this advice (especially shooting in black and white to be more aware of the lighting)

  • aclassicnotion

    Love this and your photos! I’m an instinctive photographer so, while I knew/had heard of most of these rules, there is helpful stuff for me here! Thank you for sharing. :)

  • Erika from Chimerikal

    Wow! :) This is really good info! Saving it!! :)


  • From Foothills to Fog

    This is perfect timing! I just got my first DSLR camera a week ago, a Nikon D3100! I am so excited to learn more about photography and shooting manually. I am hoping everything I learned in photography classes I took years ago(although it was film) comes back to me! Thanks so much for the tips, I just pinned this!

  • simplistic beauty

    awesome info! i cant tell you how many times i read articles or tip posts from others and see the same info presented time after time–yes it’s all important but I love it when others add in information that some photographers tend to keep to themselves because it is beyond the basics!! cant wait to try out some of these tips this weekend :)

  • ffprncez

    Awesomesauce! great tips. Thanks for sharing!

  • Hannah [Simply By Serendipity]

    LOVE this post and that you got around to capturing all these amazing tips!! :)
    Very helpful and beautiful photos/places as well!

  • Irina Pavlova

    Cool advice!!! Very good post!!


  • Nikki

    Great tips and beautiful photos! I can’t wait to read more of your photography posts :)

  • Kelly Z

    Great tips! There are things I love about the first and third pictures of the cat. So true about moving to get different view points!

  • Erin Moran

    Thank you for posting this! Photography is one of the main areas I suffer in my blogging. I fear that I’m going to have to get a new camera but by taking your advice I can at least improve my photos for now!

    Erin | Quintessentially English

  • Nino

    Your tips make me want to go outside and experiment with my camera. Thanks for it!

  • Sarah

    I really loved your suggestions for shooting in black and white and for paying more attention to lines. Ever since I started getting into photography, it’s been a blast to try out different techniques and tips, though of course there is also frustration that shots don’t always come out as amazing as I want them to be. Still, it’s enjoyable to learn something new and be creative. These tips are really great!! I will definitely be keeping them in mind.

  • Michelle

    You take beautiful photos, I tried to capture a bee on a flower last week and mine doesnt look anything like yours! Maybe thats because I was too scared to get any closer incase I got stung ;) Thanks for the tips, I will be getting down to eye level from now on and the flash is turned off

  • Heather Collier

    I just discovered your blog and I am so glad I did. You photos are awesome and you had such great tips. I’m really trying to work on my photography and trying to absorb knowledge from anywhere I can!

    Cheers! Heather

  • Mallory @ Sweet Smores

    These are such great tips! Thank you so much for this post. I’ve recently become more serious about improving my photography and any advice will help! I know I’m having problems with the white balance, because a lot of my pictures end up having a yellow tint. I now have a better idea of how to fix that.

  • Josie

    Hi! I’m new to your blog and love this post! This is great advice that I will definitely use. I can’t wait to upgrade my little point and shoot camera, but in the meantime, I will put some of your advice to practice. Thanks so much for sharing these tips! :)

  • Jenna

    Great tips… thanks so much for sharing these with us :) They are like hold for an amateur photographer like myself!


  • B Dav

    Amazing post! Thank you!
    Britt @ One&20

  • jackie jade

    great post! i’m hoping to buy a dslr soon and i know that i will have a LOT to learn. love these tips to help get me started.
    — jackie @ jade and oak

  • Irene

    Great tips! I used to shoot with the built-in flash automatically so that the camera would decided when more light was needed but after reading this I turned it off and I got some nice pictures. I even got worthy photos at dusk :)
    One tip that really helped me to improve my composition skills was to ‘take photos with things on them, instead of just taking photos of things’, a bit like you suggested on your second tip.

    Have a lovely week, Rachel!

  • Jen

    Great tips! I just started getting into photography the first of the year after I got my first DSLR camera for Christmas. I still have a lot to learn, but love reading tips from other bloggers. I would love to take a class someday, but for now am just reading lots of books and photography blogs. One thing I have started doing is shooting in Raw mode. It allows me to change the white balance in the editing stage instead of having to worry about it while I am shooting. One less thing to worry about works for me. And you can customize it, which helps when sometimes the basic settings just aren’t right. The only negative throwback is the files are big, but not too big where I quickly run out of memory on my card. Can’t wait to read more of your tips!

  • Kayli Schattner

    This was such a great post to read upon my week-break from blog land! These are tips I will forsure be using- the tissue over the flash idea is great! My apartment can give harsh lighting so that’s definitely something I need to consider. Pinning this so I don’t forget a thing! x

  • Nicola Kirsty

    I found this post really helpful! My photography is all self-taught and almost instinctual so tips like these are invaluable. Thank you! :)

    P.S. Totally bookmarked for future reference.

  • Rachel Sedaker

    Thank you for the helpful tips! you make it sound a lot simpler than some of the tutorials I’ve read. :) I feel like a dum-dum, but what does it mean to have the subject lean into the frame?

  • Beth

    Thanks Rachel, this is really helpful :) I’m now following your blog, looking forward to reading future posts! x

  • Ylenia Cuéllar

    These tips are wonderful! Your photography is gorgeous!!
    I love photography as well so this comes in handy :)

  • Katie MacDonald

    Well written post! Loved how simple your lessons were to understand – def want more photography posts from you. xoxo Katie

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  • duaba

    OOOH i’ll try the black & white tip! thanks for this :) very helpful.

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  • lippylikes

    Brilliant post – thank you so much

  • Whitney Henderson

    I love all of those tips! They will be so helpful… once I get my camera!
    I’m wanting to take pictures of objects (like the stairs) but also i am interested in taking pictures of people. I have no idea what camera would be best for that. If you have any suggestions from personal experience they would be GREATLY appreciated!

  • Stephanie @ Cat Lady Runs

    This post was awesome. I need to learn how to use my dslr and will definitely be coming back to this later.

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  • adventuresofalondonkiwi

    Fantastic post!

  • Chloé Arnold

    Love this! Excited to start playing with my camera!!

  • Nora Spaulding

    thanks for the tips! I will keep this in mind… :) I am more motivated to take pictures now!

  • Katie Elwood

    I am just getting started with blogging and taking my own photos! Great tips!

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  • Carly Herring

    These are great tips Rachel, thanks! I’m really trying to improve my photography every day, not just for my blog, but so that have beautiful pictures for our home and our memories! The tips are so helpful! Thanks again for a great post :) Carly x

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  • Jelena Simic

    Great tips Rachel! Thanks! I’m going to use them (especially the one about moving your feet) since I’m new in both blogging and photography..

  • Enrico Trismegistus Esteves Ro

    i really love this article…its so simple and easy to understand,not complicated…ive learned a lot fron this tips…pls pls pls do make more tips like this!THANK YOU!

  • Hellies Corner

    Great article, lots of handy tips, thanks… I’m trying to improve my understand of how to take good photos and how to use my camera on more than just auto.

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  • Clipping Path

    Excellent post! The artist who have
    crafted such nice images looking absolutely genuine and real. My cat is playing
    with my rc helicopters every day and play with my another dog ;)high risk car
    Clipping Path

  • joenicola

    Great tips! As for #3, using your flash in daylight…Try to use your “pop-up” flash in the situation you portrayed. Shoot in Program mode and maybe even use flash exposure compensation at -1/3. I think what you’ll see is that those annoying shadows will disappear and you’ll still have an evenly lit scene. The flash will also give you some very nice contrast and make your colors pop. Great idea to find shade, but you can’t always and, even then, shooting with flash in the shade can help your images. Just some more tips from someone who’s been there, done that. “:O)

  • Be Bonita

    Great article Rachel. I love the Black and White tip. I just got a Canon Rebel T3i and I love it. I am in love with Photography. I am a makeup artist and through photography, I have been able to improve my craft. Thank You for sharing!
    Good Luck!
    Be Bonita!

  • Camille L

    Thanks for sharing!
    My friends always thinks that I’m weirdo when I take a photo of them standing on a chair or leaning on the ground, however they like the result!

  • ellie

    Thanks for sharing this tips! I already use some of them, but there’s always something to improve!

  • Mika P.

    I just found your blog, and I LOVE it! I’m already following you on Bloglovin’ and Twitter. Thanks so much for these photography tips. I just started my blog so I’ve been slowly progressing with my photography, and I know these tips will help a lot!

  • Maddy

    Great reminders, thanks! :) Love the third cat photo, the bit of motorcycle really sets the scene.

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  • gettinfitfab

    I love the 3rd best, it really puts the whole thing together! ♥

  • Eva S.

    Thanks for posting this! I really like the second and the black & white advice. I should really try it. I never shoot in b&w, always color and then when I’m processing the image is when I change it to b&w

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