Photography Tips :: How To Take Super Sharp Images

Hi there!

Have you ever gotten home from taking photos on your camera, only to realize that many of them are fuzzy, blurry, or simply out of focus? You’re not alone in this issue! Trust me! I’ve had my fair share of frustrations from missed focus or improper settings issues when I first started learning Photography! The key is to learn how to fix those mistakes moving forward!

If you’re having a similar issue, don’t worry! I’m here to help, with just a few simple things you can do to make sure your photos are as sharp as possible!

#1 - Most likely, it’s simply a focus issue.

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You’ll want to look up how to calibrate each of your lenses to your camera. Each lens could be just the tiniest bit off from where you’re telling the camera to focus - which will cause most of your images to be just slightly off on the focus. Sometimes you can’t even tell unless you zoom in.

If you have any any filters on the front of your lens that you don’t need it at the moment, remove it! Sometimes UV or polarizing filters can reduce the sharpness.

Once you’ve done both steps above, switch your camera’s focus mode to a single point. Personally, I always keep my focus mode on the center point. I aim and press my shutter halfway to focus, recompose if needed, then press the shutter the rest of the way to take the photo. It’s easier for you to tell your camera where to focus, rather than it trying to detect what’s in view. For portraits especially, this is how to get eyes in focus and sharp, rather than the nose or cheek.

 

#2 - Steady Your Camera.

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It seems simple enough, but worth mentioning! Steady your arms against your body while holding your camera. You’ll also want to support the camera with your left hand under the lens and base. This will ensure you’re not shaking the camera too much inadvertently!

You’ll also want to make sure you’re keeping your finger rested on your shutter button. When you’re ready to take a photo, it’s much easier to squeeze the shutter button gently, rather than resting your finger beside it or hovering over the shutter and “pushing” the button and moving the camera in the process.

 

#3 - Adjust Your Camera Settings.

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Use a faster shutter speed. Personally, I don’t like to go below 1/160 for portraits, even if they’re sitting still.

Use a sharper aperture. Don’t shoot on the widest aperture available, as the depth of field (i.e. focus) is narrow. Instead, open up the aperture by 2 or more f/stops for a wider depth of field and get more of your subject in focus. When you’re working with a group, try matching the number of people that are in a single line to your aperture! For example, if you’re photographing 2 people, shoot at f/2.0 or 2.8. Four people at f/3.2 or 4.0. Six people at f/5.6 or 6.0, and so on. *Personally, I don’t go above about f/8 even for large groups! I’ve found that for larger groups, I’m far enough away from the group to get them all in focus still. Any more than about 8-10 people, start a second row behind the first, and so on. I also have them stand as close to each other as they can comfortably!

Lower your ISO. The higher your ISO, the more noise or graininess will be in your images. If the ISO is too high, it can make even sharp details look fuzzy.

Of course you won’t need to do all three of these steps at the same time, unless you’re outdoors where there’s plenty of light available. Shooting in Manual will allow you to adjust all three and have the most control over the outcome of your images. Try adjusting one setting at a time and see how it affects your images!

Remember:
Faster Shutter = Less light. / Slower Shutter = More light.
Small Aperture (Higher #) = Less light. / Wide Aperture (Smaller #) = More light.
Lower ISO = Less sensitivity to Light. / Higher ISO = More sensitivity to Light (and more noise)

 
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Just a note about editing: NO amount of editing can fix an image that isn’t in focus. That’s why learning to take sharper photos in-camera is key.

In my classes and one-on-one mentoring, I teach beginner photographers how to nail the exposure, white balance, focus, composition, etc. correct in-camera, so that you don’t teach yourself to rely on editing to fix issues that can be avoided by learning to shoot correctly. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the page at the top named “Classes" to see my next in-person class dates.

I hope these tips help you! Please let me know in the comments if you’ve been working on this specifically!


Tips to have a life AND a business

So often I hear other business owners talking about how hard it is maintaining “balance” in owning a business, and not working yourself ragged, just getting from week to week or month to month.
It’s still a learning process. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t “arrived” when it comes to having it all together all the time… But I have learned (sometimes through hard lessons) how to keep my sanity and a full time career while raising a family.

So here are some things that I hope will help you!

Tip #1 : Let go of the idea of a perfect balance.

It looks different for everyone, so I can’t tell you that you should only work “ … ” number of hours a week, or you should spend however many days as “personal/family” days…

Allow yourself some grace. In a perfect business scenario, you could make 6 figures working 2 hours a week, but that’s not realistic for most. Yes, good things come to those that hustle… but when we talk about “balance” we really mean separating work from the rest of our life, and keeping them separate in terms of a healthy amount of time spent on each, whatever that magic number of work hours is for you a week. Maybe it’s 2. Maybe it’s 30. But “balance” will mean different things for everyone.

Balance may mean handling business calls/emails/work during kiddos’ nap time every day, or after everyone else is at work/school. Maybe it just means discipline in not staying on social media longer than necessary. Set a timer on your phone, to only spend 30 minutes answering emails, then move down your To-Do list. If they don’t get answered the same day - allow yourself that grace. It will be alright!
Maybe you have the ability to mentally turn the “boss” mode OFF, but if you’re passionate about your work and your goals, they often will flow into every aspect of our lives. So finding a “balance” in staying happy and healthy, while continuing to take care of your customers/clients means different things for each business owner.

 

Tip #2 : Learn to say NO.

It seems easy enough, but as a service based business sometimes being a “people-pleaser” comes with the territory.
Having a business is not only just having a passion for what you’re doing (because it’s going to be hard to keep going when it gets tough, if you’re not “all-in” and committed to making it work) - but recognizing the things that do or do not bring you joy - and letting those things go.

For me, it was the type of photography sessions I was taking on. I learned to graciously but unapologetically say “No.” In doing so, I have felt more freedom, balance, and joy from NOT doing those jobs.
and realizing that working until 3am, doing so many sessions I could barely keep up with the editing, and answering client texts during our “family time” didn’t REALLY get me ahead, and really wouldn’t have disappointed anyone if I learned to say NO much sooner in my business.

Be honest with yourself and those around you - respect yourself and your time & resources if that’s the case. Do what makes you happy, leave the rest.

 

Tip #3 : Be proud of where you’re at - and stop comparing yourself to others.

In business and in life. Social Media allows us to put the best part of our lives out for everyone to see - the most photogenic, the best of 20 selfies or family photos… where everything is in place and everyone looks so happy.
So it’s easy to compare yourself to another business - that seems to be busy every week with new clients, or has over 3K followers on instagram, or always has the most beautiful photos to share, or clients that naturally look like they belong in a magazine… Or to compare your life with your friend’s - whose house is always clean, their kids are always well-dressed with their hair combed, and she had time to do her hair and makeup on a Thursday!

So be proud of where YOU are! Focus on what you’ve learned, been given, and what season of your life or business you’re in. You don’t know the struggles they have, or where they’ve been, or what they’ve sacrificed to be where they are in business or the trials they face now (personal or business).

As for your business… Everyone starts somewhere. If you’re reading this - you’re seeking help and TRYING to figure it out. I’m here to help!
You can’t compare your business to another that has different clients, different pricing or style, experience, etc…AND just because they’re successful doesn’t take anything away from your business.
Learn from their hustle, keep at it, and do YOU. Remember: Comparison is the thief of joy.

 

Tip #4 : Unplug.

Something I didn’t always have the discipline to do, until the past several years - was set office hours.
Your week may not look like mine, but at the beginning of every week - I set my “work” hours for that week. I make appointments and meetings for when the boys are in school, or use that time to edit and answer emails, plan my social media posts or plan marketing actions for the week. I also have a wonderful Mother-In-Law that watches the boys for one LONG work day for me!
When it’s time to “clock out” I turn off my computers, push in my office chair, clear off my desk, and leave my phone on the table. My smart watch tells me if I get a call or text I need to answer right away, or I can ignore and keep building a lego T-Rex with the boys.
I’ve also turned off sound notifications for email, facebook, instagram, and twitter. I can check when I want, but don’t feel obligated to answer right away - so I don’t feel the pressure to always be working.

When you start to set boundaries for how people can reach you, they will respect your privacy and your time more! If you answer their text during dinner - they learn that’s okay. It’s not.

 

Tip #5: Self-Care.

I know exactly how hard it is to be a wife, mom, and a full-time business owner. It’s tough! There’s so many people that depend on me, and the “people-pleaser” in me NEEDS to do it all. But it’s also important for you to care for yourself; To take care of your own health and happiness, and do something that recharges your soul.

You can’t expect to be your best for anyone if you’re exhausted and worn thin, mentally and physically.

Eat healthy. Stay active or schedule time to exercise in some form. Get enough sleep. Stay away from unhealthy relationships. (Yes, I said it. Unfortunately, I have learned how to let go of toxic relationships, or people that drain my energy and happiness.) Do something for yourself, with no deadlines or rules.

For me, self-care is taking time each day for a short devotion and prayer time. Occasionally I like to get my nails done. I love being outdoors, and taking a hike with Ben and the boys is as therapeutic to me as a massage (although, I won’t turn one down). It doesn’t always mean pampering yourself, but could be something simple that you enjoy. Whatever recharges you and helps you be your best self. Make the time!

 

I hope this helps you!

Leave me a comment below if you have any other tips, or if any of these have helped you personally!

Beginner Digital Photography Class :: Knoxville Photographer :: Learn Your Camera & How to take better Photos

I'm so excited to do these Digital Photography classes! Photography is my passion, and my goal for this class is to help you learn your camera and learn the basics of photography to take better photos!

This class is for you, if:
1.) You're a parent wanting to learn to take better photos of your family
2.) You have a camera that you'd like to learn to use correctly in different situations (and get it off auto!) or
3.) You're new to the Photography industry and want to take your photography to the next level! 

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If you're like me, I like to know EXACTLY what to expect! So i'll try to give as much detail about the class as i can! We'll cover: 
Introductions
My personal photography style & philosophy :) (briefly! So you understand a little of my approach.)
How to capture moments, not poses - and the difference in a "snapshot" and a "good" image
Also, training your eye to tell "good" from "bad" photography
Camera Settings, what they mean and when to use them
Composition
Perspective
Finding the Light, using the light available, and the difference in quantity and quality of light
Great Photographs at any age (with some tips & tricks to captivate their attention!)
Tips & Tricks I've learned through the years working with different body types
Incorporating props, background and foreground, even a bit on wardrobe.
Working with Siblings/Groups
Workflow (even give some suggestions for great image editing programs that are free)
Q&A - specific questions about the equipment/lenses/flash you may have

There's so much involved with each of these topics, I can't list them all out here. So, come ready to learn! And don't forget to bring your camera and any lenses or equipment you want to ask about! 

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All the info covered will be provided for you in a nice booklet to refer back to. You'll also be added to the exclusive FaceBook group for class attendees for additional help after the class, if you forget something, or have questions as you practice, or would like critique or how to make an image better. Or just to show off what you've learned! I love seeing before/after examples! 

Also, throughout the course I will give you ideas for how to implement different things, with a couple of "assignments" to start practicing right away! 


The next class is scheduled for January 13, 2018.

This class is roughly 3 hours long, starting at 12:30PM sharp, and packed full of PRACTICAL instruction! This isn't the typical, super-technical college style class...

You'll actually learn HOW to take better photos right away! 

SELECT YOUR CLASS DATE/TIME:

TO RESERVE YOUR SEAT, ENROLL TODAY! 
Only 10 spots available for this class!


Are you looking to purchase a new camera? Here's a great review of some beginner DSLR cameras out there! (Just a note, I'm a HUGE fan of the Canon T6i.) 
https://www.reviews.com/digital-camera/dslr/ 

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Just so you know, this is not specifically a class for professional photographers, or those wanting tips on creating a photography business. We will touch on post-processing (editing), but will not go in-depth. 
I do, however, offer one-on-one for business or photographer mentoring. Let me know if you're interested in setting up a consultation to determine if this would benefit you and your business!
I'm also working on a class specifically for the more advanced photographers and those interested in learning more about growing their photography as a business. Just let me know if you'd be interested in that workshop, and I'll be sure to let you know when that's planned! The only prerequisite will be that you take this basic course first, so I know you have a good grasp on these topics first. 

Knoxville Beginner Photography Class :: Knoxville Photographer

I cannot tell you how excited I am to offer classes! Photography is my passion, and what drives me is being able to capture the sweetest moments in life! I am primarily a wedding and newborn photographer - but I can never turn down an opportunity to create beautiful images of a family! There's just something about capturing the emotions and dynamics of a family. It's not about documenting where you are in life, but how you FEEL as a family at this point in time... 
In having a family of my own, I know how important it is to capture the precious milestones... and I know how expensive it can get! Don't get me wrong, I believe there's a great value in having a Professional take your family portraits (with you in the photo and not behind the camera!) because the right photographer can create a true piece of art with an image! (It's part of what I love about photography, the creative freedom to make it wonderful!) 

So that's why I've decided to share with you some of the things that I've learned as a professional, and as a Mom... To show you the things that make a great image, teach you how to use your camera, even how to spot "bad" photography, and how to get past just "snapshots" to creating beautiful images of your own! 

If you're like me, I like to know EXACTLY what to expect! So i'll try to give as much detail about the class as i can! We'll cover:

Introductions
My personal photography style & philosophy, simply for background and encouragement if you're considering a career in photography! :)
How to capture moments, not poses - and the difference in a "snapshot" and a "good" image
Also, training your eye to tell "good" from "bad" photography
Camera Settings, what they mean and when to use them
Composition
Perspective
Finding the Light, using the light available, and the difference in quantity and quality of light
Great Photographs at any age
Incorporating props, background and foreground, even a bit on wardrobe
Working with Siblings/Groups, even some tips on posing different subjects & body types
Workflow (even give some suggestions for great image editing programs, and some that are free!)

There's so much involved with each of these topics, I can't list them all out here. So, come ready to learn! And don't forget to bring your camera and any lenses or equipment you want to ask about!

Extras Included:
All the info covered will be provided for you in a nice booklet to refer back to.
You'll also be added to the exclusive FaceBook group for class attendees for additional help after the class, if you forget something, or have questions as you practice, or would like critique or help on how to make an image better.

Also, throughout the course I will give you ideas for how to implement different things to see improvement right away, with a couple of "assignments" to try at home for practice! 

Just so you know, this is not specifically a class for professional photographers, or those wanting tips on creating a photography business. We will touch on post-processing (editing), but will not go in-depth. Whether or not you shoot in manual, or if you are just beginning in your photography (less than 2 years or aren't seeing consistent work) - I HIGHLY recommend the class! I'm teaching all the skills I wish I had known in my first 6 months to a year building my portfolio! (Would have saved me a lot of time and tears!)

My next photography class will be Saturday, November 7th from 1-4pm. Location is TBD as of now, but will be in the Fountain City area or West Knoxville area. Decided location will disclosed after enrollment, and before the scheduled class time. 

The only requirements are that you own and bring your own DSLR camera, and dress comfy! I'll have everything else you need!

Contact me at 865-323-9294 or from the Contact page of my website to get more information or enroll in the class! Don't wait, seats are limited! 

Beginner's Photography Course :: Knoxville Photography Class

I'm so excited to be able to do Beginner's Digital Photography classes! Photography is my passion, and my goal for this class is to help you learn your camera and learn the basics of photography to take better photos! Whether you're a parent wanting to learn to take better photos of your family, you have a camera that you'd like to learn to use correctly (and get it off auto!) or you're new to the Photography industry and want to learn the basics and improve your work.

If you're like me, I like to know EXACTLY what to expect! So i'll try to give as much detail about the class as i can! We'll cover: 
Introductions
My personal photography style & philosophy & my goals for the class:) 
How to capture moments, not poses - and the difference in a "snapshot" and a "good" image
Also, training your eye to tell "good" from "bad" photography, and why it's important!
Camera Settings, what they mean and when to use them. (Also includes lots of functions and terminology, and we'll even learn how to shoot in manual to have more control over the outcome of your photos.)
Composition (what's appealing to the eye, or what can make an image look "off")
Perspective (one of the most important factors, can change the whole look of an image!)
Finding the Light, using the light available, and the difference in quantity and quality of light
Great Photographs at any age (with some tips & tricks to captivate their attention!)
Incorporating props, background and foreground, even a bit on wardrobe.
Working with Siblings/Groups
Workflow (even give some suggestions for great image editing programs that are free)

There's so much involved with each of these topics, I can't list them all out here. So, come ready to learn! And don't forget to bring your camera and any lenses or equipment you want to ask about! 

All the info covered will be provided for you in a nice booklet to refer back to. You'll also be added to the exclusive FaceBook group for class attendees for additional help after the class, if you forget something, or have questions as you practice, or would like critique or how to make an image better.

Also, throughout the course I will give you ideas for how to implement different things, with a couple of "assignments" to start practicing right away! 

Just so you know, this is not specifically a class for professional photographers, or those wanting tips on creating a photography business. We will touch on post-processing (editing), but will not go in-depth. I am, however, working on something for the more advanced photographers or those interested in learning more about starting or growing their photography as a business. Just let me know if you'd be interested in that workshop, and I'll be sure to let you know when that's planned! The only prerequisite will be that you take this basic course first, so I know you have a good grasp on these topics first.

The next class is scheduled for Saturday, July 25th (2015) at 9am. Click HERE to save your seat!

Beginner Digital Photography Classes :: Knoxville Portrait Photographer

I cannot tell you how excited I am to offer classes! Photography is my passion, and what drives me is being able to capture the sweetest moments in life! I am primarily a wedding and newborn photographer - but I can never turn down an opportunity to create beautiful images of a family! There's just something about capturing the emotions and dynamics of a family. It's not about documenting where you are in life, but how you FEEL as a family at this point in time... 

In having a family of my own, I know how important it is to capture those milestones... and I know how expensive it can get! Don't get me wrong, I believe there's a great value in having a Professional take your family portraits (with you in the photo and not behind the camera!) because the right photographer can make a piece of art from an image! (It's part of what I love about photography, the creative freedom to make it just wonderful!) 

So that's why I've decided to share with you some of the things that I've learned as a professional, and as a Mom... To show you the things that make a great image, teach you how to use your camera, how to spot "bad" photography, and how to get past Snapshots to creating art of your own! 

If you're like me, I like to know EXACTLY what to expect! So i'll try to give as much detail about the class as i can! We'll cover:

Introductions
My personal photography style & philosophy :) (briefly!)
How to capture moments, not poses - and the difference in a "snapshot" and a "good" image
Also, training your eye to tell "good" from "bad" photography
Camera Settings, what they mean and when to use them
Composition
Perspective
Finding the Light, using the light available, and the difference in quantity and quality of light
Great Photographs at any age
Incorporating props, background and foreground, even a bit on wardrobe.
Working with Siblings/Groups
Workflow (even give some suggestions for great image editing programs that are free)

There's so much involved with each of these topics, I can't list them all out here. So, come ready to learn! And don't forget to bring your camera and any lenses or equipment you want to ask about!

Extras Included:
All the info covered will be provided for you in a nice booklet to refer back to.
You'll also be added to the exclusive FaceBook group for class attendees for additional help after the class, if you forget something, or have questions as you practice, or would like critique or help on how to make an image better.

Also, throughout the course I will give you ideas for how to implement different things, with a couple of "assignments" to try at home! 

Just so you know, this is not specifically a class for professional photographers, or those wanting tips on creating a photography business. We will touch on post-processing (editing), but will not go in-depth. If you do not shoot in manual, or are just beginning in your photography - I HIGHLY recommend the class! I'm teaching all the skills I wish I had known in my first few months building my portfolio! (Would have saved me a lot of time!)

My next photography classes will be November 13th from 1-4pm and on November 15th from 1-4pm.

The only requirements are that you own and bring your own DSLR camera, and dress comfy! I'll have everything else you need!

Contact me at 865-323-9294 or from the Contact page of my website to get more information or enroll in the class! Don't wait, seats are limited!

november photography class