I’m so happy to introduce a two part series on how regular women can learn to take outdoor photos like a pro!  Today I have a special guest sharing pro photography tips and next time I’ll have a guest sharing expert macro photography tips.  I’m excited!  Let’s learn together how to beautifully capture the magical moments outdoors we have to look forward to this Spring & Summer!

Learn to take outdoor photos like an expert! Pro photography for regular women!

As a photographer, the number one question I get from people wanting to learn photography is, “What kind of camera should I get?” or “I’m looking to upgrade my current DSLR, so I can take better pictures.” Most people have this idea that beautiful images are created because of the camera that’s being used, but photographer Peter Adams said, “A camera didn’t take a great picture anymore than a typewriter wrote a great novel.” Photography has very little to do with the camera and everything about the art and skill of the person operating the camera, and that is the purpose of my tips for you. Begin practicing the art of photography with the camera you already have, even if it’s your camera phone.
Understand that good photography is the result of understanding the principles that make a beautiful image, not the camera. Unless, you’re trying to build a photography business, keep the camera you have, and get really good at photography before you ever worry about an upgrade. Just take a cruise around Instagram, and you will some phenomenal photographers building a massive following by their iPhone photography.


5 Photography Tips:

Pay attention to the details.

Before you snap that picture, take a look at the everything in frame. Do you see distracting elements that will take away from the picture? Is there a pile of clothes behind your toddler? Is the person holding her hand awkward. Are feet or heads getting cut off in a non-artistic way? Take a moment and notice all the details in the picture. Getting rid of any distracting extras will is a very important step to creating better photographs.

Lighting is everything.

The key to good photography is the lighting, and a bright sunny day at noon isn’t it. Bright sunlight causes harsh shadows on faces, and people will scrunch up their faces, because of the brightness. Your best lighting when you’re outside is full shade. Find the side of a building that is completely in shadow, and you will find the best even lighting for taking pictures. If the only shade you can find is under a tree, turn your subject’s back to the sun, so you won’t get spotty sun on their face.

When you’re in the house, windows are your friend. The easiest thing to remember when taking pictures inside is to get in between the window and your subject. The light behind you will create an even brightness on your subject’s face.

Step back and tell a story.

Every picture tells a story, and stories have many different elements. There’s the main character, but there are many supporting details that bring the story alive. Sometimes taking a step back, getting more details into the picture will make an average picture spectacular. Also, giving your pictures negative space (space with nothing in the frame) will draw the viewer’s eye back to the subject faster than if the entire image was filled with the subject.

Don’t always try to force a picture or make it too posed. Life in action, or candids, are some of the best stories ever, and if the situation is exactly right, don’t be afraid to have people move around, reposition, and then, let them carry on with life for that candid shot. I call those shots my “posed candids”.

Composition is key.

Composition is how the image is framed and set up. In photography and in art, there’s something called the rule of thirds. If you divide a frame into thirds horizontally or vertically, the best (most of the time) visual composition is when your main subject is on either third line, not dead in the center. This allows the subject to breathe and gives some of that negative space. Taking time to remove distractions or add in details will help to give the image a stronger and more attractive composition. Sometimes, just seeing something from a different perspective will take a photo from good to great — get down low, shoot from above, you never know what you will discover. Ansel Adams said, “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” Take some time to play around with telling a story through composition of your images.

Learn to edit (and more than just a filter).

I know just the word Photoshop gives people hives, and a lot of these programs can be intimidating, but I’m going to tell you the time you invest to learn an editing program will be well worth your time. Sure, it can be intimidating and it will take time to learn your way around, but in the end this is where you will be able to really make your images pop, and come alive.

You can now get Photoshop CC AND Lightroom (another editing software) for $10/month. These programs are now so easy to obtain, and there are so many training videos, like Youtube, and training programs out there to teach you how to do simple edits to photos. Gimp is a free program that is very similar to Photoshop. Also, some great apps to edit phone pictures are PicMonkey, PicTapGo, VSCOcam, Snapseed, and so many more.

Jump in. Play around. Find people you love on Instagram to follow and study their work. It’s such a great photography platform. Pay attention to the details, colors, and lighting of their photos. Learn to see the details of their composition that makes their photos appealing to you. Don’t get discouraged if your photos don’t look like you had hoped they would. I  just keep taking pictures with the camera you have, and keep learning how to get better at doing it.

Photo 11 Photo 3 Photo 2

All photos taken with an iPhone 5S and edited in PicTapGo or VSCOcam.


Charity Craig started Adorabella Photography, and was a professional wedding photographer for eight years before she hung up her camera for writing. You now can find Charity writing her broken story of life, marriage and motherhood over at The Wounded Dove. Even though photography is now just a hobby, Charity still loves to capture her story through photographs. You can also connect with Charity on Facebook and Instagram.



Thanks so much to Charity Craig for graciously sharing her expertise here at She Lives Free.  We’d love for you to share your questions for Charity below!  You can catch part 2 in this series here to learn expert macro photography tips