Simple things Sunday Special Guest Series

Hello Simple as That blog readers! I’m absolutely thrilled and honored to be guest posting here today, talking about photography (my favorite thing to talk about!). 
I started doing photography several years ago when I was working for Simple Scrapbooks magazine (which is when I first met Rebecca and got to work with her on many projects). I was asked at that time to start teaching photography classes at CKC (Creating Keepsakes Conventions) events around the country. When I told them I knew nothing about photography they basically said, “Well learn it!” So I did and the rest is history. 

 Now, several years later my photography business is going strong, and I live for taking photos of my family. My husband Matt and I have been married for 9 years and we have three beautiful boys. 
I also spend a lot of my time teaching photography classes over at Big Picture Classes. I have a new class coming out next month all about photographing children, which I’m so excited about! It’s been years in the making and I’m so incredibly proud of it! 
 In my classes, one of the questions I’m asked a lot is how I get my photos so sharp, clear and crisp. So today I’d like to share a few of tips with you on how to get your photos as sharp as possible. 
1. You’ve most likely heard that good photography is all about the photographer, not the camera. While I embrace that philosophy 99%, I do have to tell you that a good camera and lens WILL make a difference when it comes to the quality of your photos. I’ve found that I’m able to get the sharpest photos possible when I work with a prime lens (which means a lens that is a fixed length and doesn’t zoom in and out). I work with a Canon 5D Mark III camera (which is AMAZING), and two of my favorite prime lenses are the Canon 50mm f/1.4 and the Canon 85mm f/1.8 lenses. 
 2. The next tip for getting sharp photos is to make sure the settings on your camera are correct. Learn how to shoot in manual mode! I promise shooting in manual mode will really help you get better quality, sharper photos. When you’re adjusting your settings, make sure that your shutter speed is set as high as the light will allow. When I’m photographing people, especially children, I try not to let my shutter speed get any lower that 1/125 (and sometimes that’s even pushing it). And while it’s nice to use a really low aperture to get that really blurry background, a little bit higher aperture will help your photos be a little bit sharper as well. 
 3. Make sure there’s plenty of LIGHT! This goes hand-in-hand with choosing the correct settings, because if you don’t have lots of light, you’re not going to be able to get your settings to where you need them to be. Lighting is the key to good photography and sharp photos. Always try to work with as much light as possible. 
 4. If you have to work with low light (which you obviously will every once in a while), try using a tripod. I really hate it when people tell me this because I do NOT like using a tripod, but when your light is low, resulting in a low shutter speed, then a tripod is your best friend and will help reduce any camera shake. 
 5. Don’t underestimate the power of post-processing! Any photos that I print for my home, feature on my blog or Facebook page, or basically show to anyone are post-processed in Lightroom and Photoshop. One of the most important steps in post-processing is sharpening your photos. I have several different “levels” of sharpening that I use, depending on the photo and the photo subject. But in a nutshell, I use unsharp mask for sharpening. I like to start with a general setting suggested by Scott Kelby. For general sharpening he likes to use an amount of 85%, a Radius of 1, and a Threshold of 4. This is generally good, but sometimes I’ll use less, and sometimes I’ll use these settings twice if the picture needs some extra sharpening. Sharpening your photos takes some practice. Just make sure to do what you think looks best for you own photos. 
Anyone can get great photos with practice and patience! Learn not only the technical aspects of photography, but the compositional rules as well. If you’d like to see more of my work, you can find me at my blog or my Facebook page. Thanks so much for having me today! Here are a few of your simple things photos that caught my eye this week!

If your photo was featured be sure and grab yourself a button!
Please join us here for our 114th Simple things Sunday photo link up! The party will go live at 8pm MST Saturday night and I can’t wait to see your gorgeous photos!


So great to have you Elisha and thanks for all the great tips! Be sure to stop by Elisha’s blog to see more of her lovely work or if you’re looking for more photo tips + tricks, sign up for one of her online photography workshops here! If you’ve missed any of our other STS special guest posts here’s a quick recap for you:

Using window light to capture everyday photos with Gayle Vehar.
Capturing gorgeous skies in your photos with Leah Profancik.
Getting out from behind the camera with Kristen Duke.
Making the most of natural light with Anna Jones.
Advice on post processing your photos with Christy Williams of Addy Lane.

Rebecca Cooper is a 36-year-old wife and mother of four who lives with her family in sunny Arizona. As a photographer, crafter, author, and blogger, she finds joy and fulfillment in celebrating everyday moments. She loves to read and eat chocolate, and is a firm believer in afternoon naps. Rebecca shares her family’s adventures, photo tips, simple craft projects + more right here at Simple as That.

Latest posts by Rebecca (see all)


  1. says

    These are awesome tips! I’m bookmarking this post. I started shooting with the Canon 50mm 1.4 lens last year and one thing I’ve noticed is that my photos aren’t always sharp. I did some checking after becoming very frustrated and learned that this lens can produce “soft” images if the aperture is wide open. In order to get sharper images, you shouldn’t drop below f/2 and ideally not below f/2.8. I’m curious, have you experienced this using this lens?

    It’s a little frustrating for me because I want sharp images and I love shooting wide open.

    Thanks for the tips on sharpening images in post-processing. I’ll have to incorporate that into my post-processing routine.


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