Photography Tips

Camera tips for beginners

If you’re new to using a camera, here are a few helpful tips:

1. Get to know your camera. Read the manual. If you don’t have a copy at home, search “MAKE, MODEL MANUAL” online (e.g. “Nikon Coolpix 300 manual”). Most cameras offer some control. Even iPhones can shoot decent images if you know how to use them.

2. Nix the flash. Flash and art just don’t mix. Turn your flash off and shoot by daylight, outdoors or near bright doors and windows. See details in “Flash Off!” FAQ below.

3. Fill up! Get close enough to what you’re shooting to fill up the frame, i.e., the window or viewfinder you’re peeking through when you’re aiming the camera.  Avoid any excess background when shooting your art assignment.

4. Adjust exposure compensation.  Most cameras use Auto mode and do their best to decide the best exposure (lightness/darkness) of a scene. Many cameras have a physical button for this, identified by a +/- symbol. If your photo is too dark, move the scale up above zero; if too light, move it down a bit.

5. Watch Your White Balance. Cameras  try to set white balance automatically based on the type of light they’re reading. If they guess wrong, you get images that have a blue, orange, red, or yellow color cast to them. You’ll especially notice this when shooting your black/white drawings.  To avoid this, do one or all of the following: 1) don’t shoot in mixed light (daylight and indoor light, 2) shoot indoors or under a porch or garage by bright outdoor light (not at dusk or overcast, rainy days), 3) if you must shoot indoors, have lots of lights on your artwork, and beware of shadows or hotspots (see “Shooting Tips” below).

6. Use a tripod. A tripod allows for a longer exposure, avoids blurring, and encourages more attention to your object’s appearance. This results in a better photograph. Remember, abetter photograph = better feedback!

Visual tips for shooting your art assignments

Shooting good photos of your artwork requires patience and attention. Apply your common sense and effort, and you’ll be a pro in no time. Learn from the mistakes below:

Oops! Camera not square (i.e. not straight in front and center)with your artwork. Artwork looks distorted, bigger on one end than the other.  :(


Oops! Hot spot from using the flash on the camera. Not a good thing. :(  Instead, do NOT use flash and shoot near a window on a bright day, out of direct sunlight.

bad-flash-e 2

Oops! Camera too close to artwork. Artwork looks distorted, bowed out in middle of sides. :(


Oops! There’s a shadow on your artwork! Try again!


Oops! Too far away, so artwork looks small.  Get a little closer.


Yes!!! Just right! Nice and square, evenly lit, no shadows or hot spots! Good job! :)


How to Edit Photos w/ PicMonkey

You can edit your assignment photos easily using the free PicMonkey photo editor. All you have to do is go to, upload your photo from your computer, and edit. It’s that easy! Tim Chambers demonstrates in the video below.

[su_youtube_advanced url=”” height=”380″ controls=”alt”]PicMonkey is a free online photo editor that is easy and intuitive to use. In just a few minutes, you can refine your photograph or scan to produce a beautiful image. On this page, I’m providing both video and written step-by-step instructions. Watch the video first, then read the instructions for more details.[/su_youtube_advanced]

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