Quit Screwing Up Your Pictures

Tips on how to quit messing up your pictures on The Champagne Supernova: http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/01/taking-great-pictures-photography-how-to-take-great-pictures-mistakes/

I’ve wasted a lot of time and money trying to learn how to take great pictures. This entailed the painstaking hours of learning how to use my digital camera solely in manual, taking photography classes, buying fancy-dancy cameras, lenses, computers, and editing software, bugging my photographer friends for advice, and finding time to learn how to use Lightroom. The latter is still a work in progress.

I recently attended an awesome mentoring session with the oh-so talented Justin DeMutiis of Justin Demutiis Photography, and learned more in our two hours together than I learned in the last year of “figuring it out on my own.” I learn by doing, and I think it’s important to spend the time with a photographer actually walking you through the steps on how to edit versus reading an instruction manual or relying on Youtube. While being able to edit pictures serves as the icing on the cake, no amount of editing will fix a crappy picture that has a bad foundation. Here are some of Justin’s top ten things to avoid if you want a great shot:

Letting the camera do the work – Avoid relying on the camera’s automatic settings. While using aperture priority is very useful and widely used by professional photographers in fast moving situations, by putting the camera on full auto, you relinquish creative control. (My note: I never thought I’d be able to figure out automatic settings, but I did, and it’s easy).
Leaving distracting elements in the frame – This can be odd trees, plants, water bottles, etc. It’s worth the extra few minutes to clear an area before shooting, or a few extra seconds of looking through the viewfinder to create a clean composition.

Putting the subject dead center in the frame – If you hand the average person a cell phone and ask them to take a picture of you and a friend, chances are, your heads will be in the center of the frame. This is much more manageable in the age of Instagram, but for vertical portraits, it is more pleasing for heads and eyes to be in the top third of the frame.

Shooting with a lens that is too wide – Cell phones generally have wide lenses, professional portraits photographer generally shoot with longer and more flattering lenses.

Taking too many images and/or not spending enough time on a single image  – With babies and children, it is vital that you know your equipment and never stop shooting. You never know when the perfect moment will happen. With older children who take direction well, you will not feel as much pressure to go on autopilot and put the camera in burst mode. If you have a loose game-plan, a beautiful location and beautiful light, you can take a few additional moments to pay close attention to the details, perfect a pose, and create a overall pleasing image.

Moving slowly with kids- The above being said, it’s important to be prepared to move swiftly with children. If you take too long or give too much direction, it will be very challenging to capture a genuine moment or expression.

Being unspontaneous- With many great moments, it is necessary to just step back and let the moment happen.

Being unwilling to get up close and personal- Notwithstanding the above, if a newborn baby is sleeping, for example, getting closer can often be better. By simply getting closer, you can often eliminate distractions and emphasize your subject.

Being unreceptive to light- Light is ever changing, but many new photographers do not take the time to learn to “see” the light. When I search for locations to shoot, I first look for the light, then a pleasing background, and lastly I consider the pose. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Light is the first of painters”.

Lack of Patience- with photography, practice really does make perfect. Don’t get frustrated when you don’t like your product and, instead, find ways to improve it.Here are examples of Justin’s recent work:

Tips on how to quit messing up your pictures on The Champagne Supernova: http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/01/taking-great-pictures-photography-how-to-take-great-pictures-mistakes/
Justin’s first glimpse of becoming a professional photographer came as college freshman. He became one of eight college students in North America to win a scholarship to attend the North American Nature Photography Association’s annual summit, for which he owes his style. Not long after, he found his true calling in wedding photography, a place where all his technical skills seamlessly blend with so many things he loves. To Justin, nothing compares to providing a timeless set of images that tells the story of one of the most important and happiest days of two people’s lives. If you are interested in a setting up a photo shoot or mentoring session with Justin, please contact him at 813-229-5960.


Subscribe for Updates

Get the latest posts right in your inbox!

    46 Comments on Quit Screwing Up Your Pictures

    1. Tiffany
      July 21, 2015 at 10:44 am (11 months ago)

      Hi, Jennifer ~ I’m visiting from the Talented Tuesday Link Party. Congrats on being featured! I’m working really hard to improve my photography skills, so I’m super excited to have found your post. Great tips that I feel like I can actually put into practice! And your photos are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

      • jenniferdaku
        July 21, 2015 at 10:09 pm (10 months ago)

        Thanks so much, Tiffany! Like they say with photography (and everything else), practice makes perfect!

    2. Emily
      July 14, 2015 at 9:16 pm (11 months ago)

      These are all practical tips! I have learned that geting closer to the subject and lighting make a huge difference. I am going to remember the tip about putting people’s faces in the top third of the picture instead of in the middle!

      • jenniferdaku
        July 15, 2015 at 6:33 am (11 months ago)

        Thanks Emily! My other favorite tip (not listed in the post) is to increase the ISO if you want to brighten the photo without compromising the fast shutter speed. Cheers!

    3. wendy
      July 14, 2015 at 7:31 pm (11 months ago)

      Oh, goodness, I am guilty of every single one of these mistakes. It is a bit overwhelming! I have a new DSLR, but it still terrifies me. One day,..one day, I will tackle it — and win!

      • jenniferdaku
        July 15, 2015 at 6:36 am (11 months ago)

        Try watching some YouTube videos for beginners with your type of camera (Canon or Nikon?) Cheers!

    4. Hannah Atkinson
      June 27, 2015 at 8:51 am (11 months ago)

      Thanks for the great tips. I’d love to be able to style beautiful pictures. #weekendbloghop

    5. Melissa Vera
      May 18, 2015 at 11:29 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks for these great tips. Can’t wait to try these out with my camera. Thank you for linking up this week at #HomeMattersParty. Looking forward to seeing what you link up next week.

    6. Veronika
      May 14, 2015 at 11:39 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Jennifer,

      Beautiful pictures! I found your blog at artsyfartsymama.com link up party. I love your comments about photographing younger children. I am obsessed with taking pictures of my second daughter at the moment and you’re right, we really need to know our equipment well since toddlers always move so fast. Thank you so much for sharing your tips!

      Veronika | Tickled Pink Confetti

      • jenniferdaku
        May 15, 2015 at 8:05 pm (1 year ago)

        Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your positive feedback, so glad you found it helpful. Cheers!

    7. Debbie
      May 13, 2015 at 1:16 pm (1 year ago)

      Great post! Thank you for sharing the tips you picked up from Justin. I am always looking for ways to improve my photos. I’ve taken a couple of classes, too. Somehow or another I seem to lose what I’ve learned when I go to put it in action. 🙂

      • jenniferdaku
        May 13, 2015 at 8:29 pm (1 year ago)

        Thanks, Debbie. I found that practice makes perfect (I hate to use cliches!) Cheers!

    8. Trish
      May 12, 2015 at 10:38 pm (1 year ago)

      Great tips. I love photography…but I suck at. Love the images.

    9. swapna
      May 12, 2015 at 3:41 am (1 year ago)

      The pictures are gorgeous!

    10. Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life
      May 11, 2015 at 5:58 pm (1 year ago)

      Great tips and stunning photos! I need to graduate from programmable to manual. And I could stand to spend more time on each individual photo, although I do scout out the background, etc. But I’ve spent so much time on sports photography and continuous shooting that I’ve just gotten in that habit. Thanks for sharing this with us at #FoodieFriDIY…I’m sure a lot of people are going to find this helpful!

      • jenniferdaku
        May 11, 2015 at 8:45 pm (1 year ago)

        Michelle thanks for stopping by and for the feedback. I think we are “programmed” to think that manual settings is too difficult to understand but REALLY ITS NOT. And the quality of photos is so much better than in automatic. Let me know how you progress. Cheers!

    11. aspen jay
      May 9, 2015 at 3:37 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks for the read. One of my goals for 2015 is to learn how to properly use the nice camera we bought several years ago.

    12. Stephanie Volkert
      May 7, 2015 at 10:05 pm (1 year ago)

      With digital cameras, there really isn’t such a thing as “taking too many pictures,” so I agree that taking more pictures is always the way to go. I take a ton of photos (I mostly take macro pics) and I am really upset with myself when I don’t get a clear picture of the subject because I rushed myself and didn’t take enough photos to insure that at least one would be sharp.

      • jenniferdaku
        May 10, 2015 at 9:24 pm (1 year ago)

        Good points, Stephanie. I find that practice makes perfect, and the best way to practice is by taking lots of pictures and messing them up.

    13. Megin
      May 7, 2015 at 9:24 am (1 year ago)

      Thank you for the great tips ~ your pictures are beautiful!
      Thank you for sharing your post this week at Brag About It Link Party on VMG206. I’m featuring you at Next Weeks Brag About It Link Party, Monday at midnight!
      ~ Megin of VMG206

      • jenniferdaku
        May 7, 2015 at 12:25 pm (1 year ago)

        Awesome, thanks so much, Megin! Cheers!

    14. Cathy
      May 6, 2015 at 2:02 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you for our great tips. Pinning this. Thank you for sharing at Share IT One More Time. Cathy

      • jenniferdaku
        May 6, 2015 at 8:47 pm (1 year ago)

        Glad you found them helpful, Cathy. Cheers!

    15. Melissa
      May 4, 2015 at 4:22 pm (1 year ago)

      As a professional photographer, I cringe at camera phone pictures! I tell everyone I know, “That is NOT what you really look like! That crappy lens is distorting your features!” I wish they would make phones with maybe two lenses–one for people and one for landscapes!

    16. Rhonda Gales
      May 2, 2015 at 9:10 pm (1 year ago)

      I appreciate your tips. My images are a work in progress and I need all the help I can get. I would love for you to share your tips on my Sunday’s Best link up. This is advice that many bloggers are seeking.

      • jenniferdaku
        May 3, 2015 at 12:36 pm (1 year ago)

        Thanks, Rhonda. I’d love to participate in your Sunday’s Best linkup… let me know what time it starts.

    17. Gilly @ Colour Saturated Life
      April 3, 2015 at 8:43 am (1 year ago)

      Great advice here, I think most people’s mistake is to keep it in Auto….good on you for straying outside your comfort zone!

      • jenniferdaku
        April 3, 2015 at 5:04 pm (1 year ago)

        Gilly- thanks for stopping by. Never imagined I’d be able to ever take the camera off auto!

    18. Cathy
      April 2, 2015 at 10:25 pm (1 year ago)

      Love love this advice! I am waiting on the purchase of my first big girl camera and I can’t wait! 🙂
      Saying hello from Creativity Unleashed!

      • jenniferdaku
        April 3, 2015 at 5:05 pm (1 year ago)

        Cathy- not sure if you have a camera preference, but I have a Canon and find it easy to use. I have the T8i and my husband has the T3i.

    19. Raki (Outside the Box Mom)
      March 31, 2015 at 4:54 pm (1 year ago)

      I am learning that practice makes perfect. The more I use my camera, experiment with lighting, and play around with editing tools, the better I get.

      Thanks for your tips,

    20. Lindsay Eidahl
      March 15, 2015 at 7:46 pm (1 year ago)

      Simply beautiful! Thank you for sharing on Show Me Saturday!

    21. Sinea Pies
      March 14, 2015 at 4:50 pm (1 year ago)

      I am just learning to look for the light. My photos are getting better but, like, you, I yearn for more. Thanks so much for sharing this great post at my Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop. I have selected it to be my Editor’s Pick for this week’s party. We go live Tuesday evening at 7pm EST. Please stop by and share more???

      • jenniferdaku
        March 15, 2015 at 9:14 pm (1 year ago)

        Thanks for the feedback Sinea and I feel honored to be chosen as your Editor’s pick for your blog. I’ll hop by on Tuesday! With regard to the pictures, practice really does make perfect. It took me about a year before I was comfortable using manual settings but it’s totally worth it. Keep me updated on your progress.

    22. Ashley ~ 3 Little Greenwoods
      March 14, 2015 at 9:52 am (1 year ago)

      Fabulous tips! I’ve got to learn my camera more but am so intimidated.

      Thanks so much for sharing on Show Me Saturday!

      • jenniferdaku
        March 15, 2015 at 9:15 pm (1 year ago)

        Thanks Ashley! I thought I would NEVER be able to understand how to use the camera in Manual but the patience was worth it. Keep me posted on your status.

    23. Melissa
      March 10, 2015 at 10:51 pm (1 year ago)

      I am a Certified Professional Photographer, and I am always explaining to people that yes, the camera does lie. Those lenses on phones and ipads are TERRIBLE and distort things like nothing else! I keep seeing a commercial that brags that a phone has a lens “so wide you can ‘selfie’ with everyone.” And they will all look ridiculous. It’s so important to use the right lens for portraits!

    24. Megan @ C'mon Get Crafty
      March 10, 2015 at 9:21 am (1 year ago)

      Thanks for the awesome tips! I am forever trying to better my photography skills. Stopped over from the MMM Block Party! 🙂

      • jenniferdaku
        March 10, 2015 at 1:21 pm (1 year ago)

        Glad you loved them and thanks for stopping by. Cheers!

    25. Bridget/The Recipe Wench
      March 9, 2015 at 2:33 pm (1 year ago)

      Just what I needed to read. I am learning slowly but surely how to work with the camera. My husband is “teaching” me but you know how that goes…. Thanks (again) for sharing at Inspire Me Mondays!

    26. Allie
      March 9, 2015 at 12:02 am (1 year ago)

      Hi Jennifer!

      Beautiful blog! I found you on the block party link up. I’m a new blogger and haven’t invested in a good camera yet. But when I do, I’ll take your advice to learn from a professional rather than waste time or money elsewhere. Thank you for that!

      Allie | Happilyhanson.com

      • jenniferdaku
        March 9, 2015 at 10:48 am (1 year ago)

        I love it! Can’t wait to check out your blog and let me know if you have any more questions about cameras, lenses, or photography. Cheers!

    27. free music downloads
      February 26, 2015 at 5:43 am (1 year ago)

      I am regular visitor, how are you everybody?
      This post posted at this website is in fact

      • jenniferdaku
        February 26, 2015 at 8:46 pm (1 year ago)

        Thank you so much for the feedback, I appreciate it!


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *