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How to Make Your Photographs Look More Professional

How to Make Your Photographs Look More Professional

There’s no magic trick to taking a professional photo, and it usually takes years of training and practice to become a professional photographer.  However, there are plenty of awesome photography tips that will dramatically improve your photography skills and make your photos look professional in a lot less time.


Simple Tips While Shooting Lighting

The most important aspect of photography professionals obsess over is lighting. Most professional photoshoots will use a lighting technique called the “exposure triangle” where you have a main light source and then a second and a third positioned in a way to support the main source of light. You may even see an exposure triangle being done outdoors for professional photography photoshoots. Even though there could be plenty of natural light, the photographer may use extra light sources to eliminate unwanted shadows or shading and reduce any potential blemishes in the photo from uneven lighting.

The amount of light and how it radiates the subject and environment is the most important tool when attempting to shoot like a professional. Different lighting conditions such as low light and harsh lighting conditions each come with their share of challenges. To obtain the correct exposure you will need to tweak the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO until you find the perfect balance for taking great photos in the lighting environment you are shooting in. Pro cameras by top brands like Canon, Sony, and Nikon offer DSLR and mirrorless cameras which typically showcase powerful auto features which will try to match your exposure settings to the environment, but it’s always best to keep trying yourself. Eventually, you will find that your manual tweaking is better than any auto functions. Beginners can easily use auto features to help gauge the efficacy of “tweaking” and use that as a guide or tutorial for when it’s time to take full manual control.

There are just a few simple tips you need to remember when shooting a portrait session to make it more interesting.  Position the subject in the shade so you can place whatever lighting you desire on their face yourself with the help of a flash diffuser from  If shooting the portrait outside, you’ll need to turn their back to the sun so the harsh shadows don’t display on their face. If you are photographing landscapes, it is imperative that you take these photos during the early morning and late evening hours to achieve the most professional looking shots possible.  Pros call this time of the day the Golden Hour.  Shooting during this time helps to eliminate harsh shadows and highlights.



An easy mistake made by many beginner photographers is to pay such close attention to the subject that you miss the clutter, or aberrations, in the background of the photo.  This could be anything from a piece of trash, to a street sign, to other people passing by.  This clutter distracts the viewer from enjoying the subject of the photo. A best practice is to double check your frame and composition for this prior to shooting.

Single Subject

Decide on the subject you want to be the center of attention, and zoom in tight!  This will make for a much more interesting picture than one with a lot of background noise. Consider adjusting your aperture to blur the background a bit which will highlight and enhance the subject within the frame.


There are many factors that can impact the sharpness of your photos.  But one sure way to help you take sharp high quality pics is to get the focus right while you are shooting.  The best way to achieve this is to place the focus directly on the eye of the person you are photographing.


This is probably the most difficult skill to learn when it comes to photography.  However, it can make the biggest difference in the final outcome of your images.  If you only learn one composition concept, learn the most basic rule first, the rule of thirds. You basically imagine a tic-tac-toe board on the frame of the picture, and put the most interesting part of the photo on the intersection of those lines. This applies to any type of photo you take from portraits and close ups to bokeh and landscape photography.


Depth of Field

This is a standard practice among professional photographers.  Learning this technique will give your photographs that professional touch you’re looking for and really make them stand out. Shallow depth of field means that the foreground and subject of the photo is sharp, and the background is blurry. This technique is used in almost all forms of photography, especially portraits and bokeh where you want to strictly highlight the subject.



This is the area where practice makes perfect. When we are discussing exposure, we mean the brightness or darkness of a photo.  Digital cameras like the Nikon D80 Camera from are great at deciding on a neutral exposure. However, they tend to make the person’s face dark and the background too bright on a sunny day.  You want the focus to be on the person’s face obviously, so you’ll need to play around with the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed to get the proper exposure you are looking for with each shot. You can create many different styles of images just by adjusting any of these settings. Be adventurous and explore how each affect the image and each other. Meaning, when you adjust 1 of those 3 settings, it usually will affect the other two. The trick is finding the perfect balance between them all. It may take some time at first, but once you get the hang of it, you will feel like a pro and shoot like one too.

Editing Software Tips

After you have used your photography expertise during your photo shoot to take some awesome shots, you can use editing programs for post-processing and photo-editing to make them even more jaw dropping. The two most well-known pieces of photo editing software that allow you to creatively change the colors, contrast and exposure of your digital photos are Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom.  These editing tools allow you to remove imperfections even down to the pixels. Once use the shadow/highlights tool to bring back detail that is underexposed, enhance the colors saturation for vibrance, tweak the white balance, blur the background, and so much more. Shooting in RAW mode allows for the most flexibility for retouching images during postproduction and is why so many pros shoot in this mode. Production can offer the best photo for social media. Editing techniques take time to learn and there are a million and one photo editing tips that you will naturally pickup just from attempting postproduction on your pictures. Lightroom presets can be saved just like most editing software to increase efficiency in your workflow.

There’s an App for That

More and more people are using cell phones to take pictures.  But are you getting the most from your cell phone’s camera?  While many can take great shots like the
Sony Xperia Smartphone from, there are apps that can enhance the photos and simplify shooting.

Photo Toaster 

This digital darkroom makes editing your iPhone photos as easy as swiping them with a finger. 

Photoshop Touch

This is the tablet version of Adobe’s Photoshop If you only have time to practice or perfect a few of these tips, make sure you shoot in optimal lighting, choose to be creative with your composition, and digitally style your images using editing software or apps.


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