• Photo: Jessica Finn

    Photo: Jessica Finn

Photography has come a long way, and so have our photo-editing options. But advanced software programs and apps have made photo alterations so simple that I sometimes have to ask myself: What were they thinking?

Over-sharpened imagery, filters, composites (including photos pushed past “acceptable” HDR limits), and more — as a photo editor, I see it all. While every photographer wants to get noticed, it shouldn’t be for the wrong reason.

My advice to the photographer who wants to take a better photo? Don’t fake it — make it.

It all begins with controlling that trigger finger. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of post-processing, but a good photographer should set up what’s in his or her frame before pressing the shutter button. Here are five simple solutions for everyday issues.

Move.
If you don’t like what you see, don’t be afraid to change positions. If there’s something distracting or undesirable in your shot, try to step up higher, crouch lower or move the object out of frame. It is okay to crop an image, but it is never all right to crop or clone an item out.

Focus.
Anything less than tack sharp is not sharp enough. Make sure your point of focus is set on your subject. (If it has a face, aim for the eyes.) Use a tripod if you are working with slow shutter speeds or under low-light conditions. A bit of sharpening is allowed, but should not be confused with “getting an image in focus.”

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. And again.
Had a great photo idea but it didn’t turn out quite the way you envisioned? Make the necessary changes and shoot it again. Always strive to outdo your last frame, and you’ll grow as a photographer (and no doubt learn a great deal along the way).

Know your camera.
It seems simple enough, but the reality is that many photographers don’t know how to use their gear to its full potential. Making good photos is not so much about the equipment, but how it’s used. If your gear came with a manual, read it and keep it handy when you go out to shoot.

Practice.
It really does make perfect.