FAQ: how to get “the” shot

Here’s my preface…

Because if you’re around me for more than 2.5 minutes, you’ll learn that I seem to preface everything.

And yes, my husband LOVES it. (please note the extreme sarcasm there…)

I am not the greatest photographer in the world.  I am not an expert in all things photography.  I do not consider myself the end all on any subject I will address here.  But I’m willing to share my approach, my thoughts and what I’ve learned.  If you’re okay with that, let’s do this…

There’s one question that I’ve gotten from several people and it basically revolves around this, “How do I take better pictures?”

Good question.

I ask myself the same thing all the time because I want to continually get better as well.

One of the most important things?  Know your camera.

You and your camera need to become BFFs.  Read that manual.  Read it again.  Research the things that are completely confusing.  Practice.  Practice.  And practice some more.  Try new things.  Learn those nuts and bolts and get your camera off of auto mode.

Here are some helpful websites in that process:


First of all, she has some great recipes.  But her photography section rocks…  And she explains concepts that can be crazy hard to understand in the most incredibly approachable way.  Check out the archives and learn more about aperture, bokeh and shutter speed.  You’ll thank me.  And probably laugh frequently because she’s got a whole lot of witty going on.


It’s no secret.  I love her writing.  And the way she cares about her clients.  But I also love her FAQ posts.  Though many of her more recent FAQ posts deal with more business and client situations, there are so many great photography tips along the way, especially in the archives.


If you’re looking to learn about flash and basically have your mind blown with the possibilities of what you can do – get Bob Davis’s book, Lights, Camera, Capture

He also has video posts on their facebook fan page as well that rock.


But one of the key elements I think in getting better?  Fall in love with your subject.

Whenever you have the privilege of photographing a person (or a group of people), allow yourself to fall in love with them.  Realize that they are people with a story.  And you have been given the unbelievable opportunity to tell their story.  Get to know them.  See why they are remarkable.  Take the time to stop and notice what makes them beautiful.

And when you maybe get flustered by all that you’re trying to learn in photography – STOP – put down your camera for a moment, take a deep breath and really take in the people and your surroundings.  It seems like the worst idea ever.  You should keep your camera up.  They need to see that you’re working hard.  You need to look like you know your stuff.  BULL CRAP.  Put your camera down to your side.  Walk around.  Take it all in.  How can you capture who this person really is?  How can you bring it out?  Can you move them?  Can you move you and try a different angle?  Can you change your aperture for a moment?  Are there elements in your scene that really matter to that person…or help bring them out?

Your clients won’t notice.  (Unless you take a really long time…)  Tell them what you’re doing if you like.  Let them know that you just wanted to really take a look and find the perfect way to tell THEIR story.  You might notice their shoulders become less stiff, their smile is less “posed” and they feel less rigid.  Because it is your responsibility to let them know that they matter.  In the way you treat them and in the way you capture them.

And if you’re a mom trying to take better pictures of your kids – this is so important.  Fall in love all over again.  Be a student of your child.  Get down to their level.  (One of the best tips ever for children’s photography)  See if you start to notice rhythms in what makes them giggle or when they get fussy and program your camera time with them around that.

If you are taking photographs of landscapes and nature – once again, FALL IN LOVE.  Take the camera down.  Be AMAZED by what is in front of you.  Let the worries of your day fade away and be fully present.  And then figure out what elements really stand out to you.  What captures your eye?  What inspires you?  Is it a leaf?  Is it part of a flower petal?  Is it the entire scene?  Once you know that, (and you know your camera) you can take pictures that tell that story.


There is a lot more that can and has been written on how to take better pictures, but I’m hoping this is a start here on the blog for some of you.  And in the meantime, if you have any other questions, feel free to leave them on my facebook fan page or email me anytime at amy@amypphotos.com.  I am going to do my best to keep this FAQ at a weekly level – so I need questions.  And patience in case life gets a little crazy adding a new little one into the mix in a few weeks…

You all rock and I can’t wait to see/hear how you’re doing!

And because posts are more fun with pictures, here is one of the people I get to fall more in love with every day…

  1. Erin Daniel says:

    Thanks for the tips! You are so helpful 🙂

    P.S. I know you’re falling more in love with Hannah every day, and I can’t blame you. But I couldn’t help but notice there was someone else in that photo that deserves some recognition too.

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