10 Tips for Improving Your Digital Photography Shots

In today’s social media world, there are tons of outlets where you can share your photos. With all of the interesting images you see on Instagram and Facebook, you may be inspired to step up your photo game to start sharing better looking photos with family and friends.

If you’re ready to up your digital photography skills to the next level, here are 10 tips that can take your photos from mediocre to marvelous.

1. Careful Cropping for Focused Composition

Sometimes, you take a photo and realize that some parts of it just aren’t necessary for what you’re trying to capture. Maybe there’s too much empty space around your subject, or there could be an unwanted object that snuck its way into the shot.

If you want to eliminate unwanted parts of your photo, cropping is a simple way to do it. Cropping allows you to cut out unwanted parts of a photo, leaving you with a more focused, clean image.

2. Adjust Saturation for More or Less Intensity

Saturation refers to the intensity of a photo’s color. If you think your photo colors are looking a little lackluster, you can increase the saturation to make the colors pop. On the other hand, you can decrease saturation to tone down an image that looks a bit too bright for your taste.

3. Add Drama with Contrast

When you increase the contrast of your photo, you’re basically making everything in the shot look more dramatic. Increased contrast makes your darks darker and your lights lighter. It helps things look just a bit more exciting than they do in real life.

Be careful, though; too much contrast can make your photo colors look blown out of proportion, and it can make shadows so dark that you lose detail in dark areas. You can also decrease contrast to make an image appear flatter. Adjust contrast to strike the perfect visual balance.

4. Adjust Lighting with Brightness

Lighting can be one of the trickiest things about photography. Even professional photographers are always in search of the perfect lighting. If you find yourself dissatisfied with the way your photo is lit, you can adjust the lighting with your camera’s brightness tool.

The brightness tool is exactly what it sounds like: a tool that lets you increase brightness to add more light to your photo, and decrease brightness to make the photo darker.

5. Straighten Your Horizon

Sometimes, you’ll wind up with a photo that looks slightly crooked. This tends to be especially noticeable in photos with a clear horizon line. To fix a slanted horizon, select the rotate or align tool in your photo editing program. Then, simply turn the photo until your horizon runs in a straight line. Don’t let a crooked photo distract from its subject.

6. Eliminate Red-Eye

Is there anything that ruins a good photo as quickly as the dreaded red-eye effect? Thankfully, there are several ways to correct it. You can manually retouch the red by zooming into the affected area and coloring over the red pixels with black or dark gray.

If that sounds too complicated, you’re in luck. Most photo-editing software offers a red-eye reduction tool that you can use to eliminate red-eye with the click of a button.

7. Use Filters to Warm or Cool Colors

The human eye is masterful at perceiving color. Cameras try to replicate this, but sometimes they miss the mark. When that happens, the colors in your photo may look as if they have an orange or blue tint. This can be corrected using color filters.

If your colors look too orangey, applying a blue filter over the photo can cancel out the effect. The opposite is true for photos that look too blue; an orange filter can balance the blueness. By adjusting the intensity of the filter, you can tweak it until the colors look true to life.

8. Blur the Background to Increase Focus

Today’s digital cameras tend to be great at keeping all of an image in focus. However, you may not want to focus on everything in the picture. If you want people to focus on one particular part of the image, you can use a blurring tool to de-emphasize everything else.

Most photo editing programs have a blur tool with a range of settings. Simply select the blur tool and run it over the parts of the photo that you don’t want to focus on. The Gaussian blur tends to offer the most natural results, but you can experiment to find the best setting for you.

9. Add a Border

Adding a plain black or white border to your photo can give it a more professional, polished feel. The color contrast between the border and your image can also make the colors pop. Avoid patterned or kitschy borders. They can make your image look amateurish and draw attention away from the photo subject.

10. Use a Portable, Instant Photo Printer to Check Quality

If you head home from your photography session and find that even digital correction can’t fix your photos, you may be out of luck. Luckily, you can avoid this situation by assessing the quality of your photos before you leave the photography site. A portable, instant photo printer lets you print digital photos in seconds, so you can see how your photos really look in no time at all.

If your printed photo doesn’t live up to your expectations, you have the chance to take more photos before heading out. It’s an especially good idea to do this if you’re taking photos at a place you may not return to, such as an exotic vacation locale.


With these tips under your belt, the quality of your photos should improve in no time. While there are other, more advanced techniques that can also take your photos to greater heights, it’s important to master the basics first. Once you’ve got these skills down, you can progress to more complex photo editing tools. For now, get out there, take some photos, and practice!

Written by Lance Waterly

Lance Waterly is a freelance writer and consultant. He spent nearly twenty years in the T&M industry, and now enjoys writing about his experiences and giving advice to businesses testing and developing new equipment. In his free time, he takes his grandkids on long walks through their neighborhood and shoots family photos for his instant photo printer.

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