Snap it up: 3 of the best beginner photography tips from Angie Baxter

Photography tips

Snap it up: 3 of the best beginner photography tips from Angie Baxter

After all this time I would still classify myself as a writer first and a blogger second. I mean my favourite part of this job is the fact that the majority of my time is spent throwing words together on the screen and knowing that you're all getting enjoyment out of reading them (or at the very least, that I'm getting enjoyment out of adding my own jokes and TV references to as many posts as possible). You might have noticed recently that the photos that accompany my posts — especially my cocktails and DIYs — are starting to look a lot better and more professional. This is all thanks to Angie Baxter, who runs a series of photography workshops in Melbourne (and around Australia) and showed me that the manual settings on my camera don't need to be terrifying.

WANT MORE? If you liked these beginner photography tips, then check out more expert advice here.

The fact is that while not everybody is going to become a professional photographer, we are all capable of taking awesome pictures. These tips from Angie Baxter will help everybody take better photos, whether you're using a super expensive DSLR camera or your iPhone. If you're stressing about whether you should shell out for that DSLR, remember what Angie says: "Perfectly terrible photos have been taken with fancy schmancy cameras — just as jaw-dropping photos have been taken with a phone."

I want to take a photo of my kids but they won't. stop. moving! How can I make them sit still? 
Ha! This is definitely a top question at my workshops. My philosophy for photographing my own children is to photograph who they are … really. If sitting still and smiling perfectly at the camera is not true to where they're at, then a photo of them doing so might be more trouble to achieve than it's ‘worth’.  Maybe the more worthwhile photo is the one of them attempting handstands on the couch, or decorating the cupcakes, or squirting their sibling with the hose.
And then, to capture the moving shots, ensure your ISO is high enough to allow a fast enough shutter speed to eliminate motion blur.
Why do some people always get red eye when I take their photo at night? 
Red eye can be visible when using a flash pointed directly at the subject, particularly the darker the room is. The best way to avoid red eye is to use a flash lighting that can be turned and bounced off another surface, or use a room with enough light, bump up the ISO and remove the flash completely.
I've been practicing my skills and can take a pretty mean photo, but the composition is always a little off. Any tips that you use?
Composition is the balance and organisation of all the elements within your photograph. Not just the subject, but their environment too. Composition plays a big part in the visual impact of an image, and can help tell your story and highlight the focal point.
The 'Rule of Thirds' is a good design rule to have in mind when composing your image. (Note: For the Rule of Thirds, mentally divide your image into thirds both vertically and horizontally and place the focal point of your picture where the invisible lines intersect.) Taking your eye around the ‘whole’ frame encourages you to see more than the subject/focal point — are there elements in the frame that are distracting? Is there something just out of frame that could enhance the shot?
And as a little bonus ... What is the biggest thing I should look out for to make my photos turn out better? 
It depends on the subject matter, but in most cases I would say lighting. It really can make or break a photo.
If you're wanting to learn more about photography and how to use your fancy DSLR camera, then check out Angie's Love Your Camera workshops.

Do you have any beginner photography tips or questions for Angie Baxter? Sing out in the comments below and we'll get you an answer!


  • susieclegg says:

    Do you have any tips on taking better photos with low-resolution cameras? Being the proud owner of the tried-and-true iPhone 4, I live life with a crappy, low mega-pixel front facing camera. Just wondering if there are any secrets I could use! Thank you!

    • Larissa Thorne (Lifestyle Editor) says:

      I asked Angie about this and she said that since iPhones don’t have any of the settings of an SLR that you can control, the number one thing to think about is lighting. You can brighten your images using the filters on your phone but your pictures will always look better if the lighting is right from the start. You always want whatever you’re shooting to be in or facing the light so if you’re taking photos of an object then move it to near a window (if the sun is blaring through then you can diffuse the light with a mesh curtain or a thin sheet) and if you’re shooting outside (say photos of your kids or pets) then you’ll get the best light early in the morning or late in the afternoon – avoid the middle of the day because this can cast unflattering shadows. You should also check pinterest because apparently there are a bunch of iPhone hacks (like using a part of a laser pointer and a bobby pin) that can give your photos cool effects.

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