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5 essential tips that improved my photography

Everyone is obsessed with getting good pictures currently. Well, not everyone, but I know very few people that don’t love good pictures. The truth is, social media has made so many more people value photography, since we share so many more images (and see so many more on a daily basis).

This blog has mainly been an exploration of my photography, so here are 5 things I’ve learned that greatly improved my photography, especially if you’re getting more serious about taking good pictures.

5 tips to improve your photography

Learn to Edit Your Photos, Actually.

Don’t get me wrong, I love VSCOCam and swear by it for editing pictures on my phone (as well as presets/filters in general) but one of the things that has changed my photography the most is not using them. Personally, I can easily identify most of time if you used a VSCO filter and for my portraits, most of time, something less noticeable and more considerate of the photos works much better.

I'm not saying I don't like it when people edit with VSCO- I think if you learn to edit it outside of it you'll know what you prefer (and be able to edit in VSCO better).

I use Lightroom to edit my photos and I used to use VSCO preset packs for the editing software. It took me forever to stay away from them (and I still use them for any picture I take on my phone) but any portraits I take don’t use a single preset. It allows me to naturally pick out the colors I love in the photo, and make sure each image from the shoot looks natural and the way I truly love.


learn to shoot manual mode

If you don’t have a camera, this isn’t really an option. You definitely don’t need a fancy camera to take beautiful pictures. If you do have a DSLR camera, I think you’re doing a disservice to yourself not learning how to manually adjust the settings. If I didn’t shoot in manual on my camera, I’d honestly rather use my IPhone. That is how big of a difference shooting in manual makes.

Manual allows you to have complete control over how you want the photo to look as well make sure your pictures will turn out well in the situation you’re in. It takes awhile to figure out, but practice makes perfect. I’m still not a complete pro at it, but it has changed my photography so much.

master the lens you have

This goes for anyone- master the lens you have. Maybe your camera doesn’t have the ability to change lens, and maybe you just shoot on your IPhone or a GoPro. So many people think that the more expensive and better a camera you have, the better a picture will look. Although your quality will improve, if you completely master the tool you’re using- your pictures using a nicer camera/lens will look better.

I waited a long time to upgrade from my kit lens that came with my camera, but when I did get a 50mm lens I was ready for it. Practice composition, focus, and the basics with your IPhone or with a cheap camera. When those pictures start looking great, you know you’re ready for what a nicer camera or lens has to offer.

This also applies to editing software-  I learned to edit my images in Photoshop Elements before upgrading to Lightroom 5 before now using Photoshop CC & Lightroom CC. There's no way I could have started out with Lightroom CC or my DSLR & a 50mm lens.

before & first time using my 50mm (slight difference)

shoot in raw

This only applies if you have a DSLR camera, but shooting in RAW changed my photography. In the settings on your camera, you can choose if you shoot in JPEG or RAW. You’ve probably heard of JPEG seeing as that's the most common image format. I always saw online that RAW makes a big difference and didn’t really believe people. It can’t be that big of a deal, right? Wrong.

Although initially RAW files look much flatter in terms of the colors, in post-processing RAW files have a lot more information. You can make super drastic edits and the photos still look great (not super grainy). However, if you don't have editing software or a way to convert RAW files back to JPEG’s after editing, I don’t suggest it. RAW files are huge and your phone won’t like them. I use Lightroom & Photoshop Elements is also a great (and cheaper) option.


Lighting is key. I take all of my photos in natural lighting. I always saw stuff about “golden hour” and although I knew around sunset time, pictures could give you that golden look I didn’t think it was that important.

Now, I refuse to take pictures any other time than early in the morning (8-9:30 in the morning, even then is late) or the hour and a half before dark. Not only is the heat unbearable during the summer any other time, but year round your subject isn’t squinting in the sun & there aren’t harsh shadows. Shooting golden hour is beautiful people!!


My photography has definitely improved so much since I began. I hope this helped someone, if you like these photography posts please let me know so I know to do more :) possibly a guide to buying your first DSLR or more behind the scenes of blog posts? let me know :)

kaitlyn + downtown

kaitlyn + downtown