How to Take Sharper Photos and Avoid Blur

by SomeGirl on March 12, 2012 · 15 comments

Let me start today’s post by saying, “Don’t wait too long to transfer your photos from your card to computer!”

Last night I went to get some pics from a fun photo day with the boys and my card read “no files” … I couldn’t get it to open anywhere. 900 photos gone in a flash! :(

Fortunately, I had already transferred half of them to the computer and forgotten to delete them from the card, but still.

Here’s the only photo from my camera over the last month that I have…. (taken with my iPhone)


Now, with that important PSA out of the way, let’s look at a few tips from the photography classes I took last month at Blissdom… Hopefully you will find them as helpful as I have.

(Oh, that reminds me that ALL of my Blissdom/Nashville photos are gone… Boy, am I thankful for instagram as a keeper of photos right now!)

To take sharper photos and avoid blur:

Move into an area with more natural light.

Shoot where the light is the best.

Increase shutter speed.

Use a single focus point, not “all focus.” (check your manual to find out how to do that)

Focus on one point – on people focus on their eyes or a bright spot on their face.

Take a deep breath and hold it as you press the shutter release button.

Hold your camera with a firm grasp. Use both hands and rest the lens of your camera in the palm of your left hand.

Think of your body as a tripod.

Tuck your elbows firmly in to your side while holding and aiming your camera.

Prop your camera up on something.

Lean on something strong to help stabilize yourself and your camera.

Think about being strong and stable with each shot you take.

It’s worth repeating, hold your breath when you press the shutter release.

Another option is to set your camera and walk away, using a remote trigger or timer.

You have to be willing to miss shots to get great shots. Exhale, slow down.

Don’t rush your shot.

Take time.


Have patience and wait for the photo.


Alia joy

Sorry you lost your pictures. We had a computer crash a few years ago and lost a ton of photos. I cried. I read all of your photo posts over and over. They’ve really helped me to get better shots in the daylight but how do you shoot when it’s darker and you need to slow the shutter speed? I know everyone said don’t use the flash at Blissdom but my pics are always really blurry. :(


Thanks. Sorry to hear about your computer crash and lots photos… so sad!

Did you see this post on taking better photos in low light settings? It’s what I do to avoid the flash.

Bottom line: Low aperture, as high of an ISO as I need to go to get a shutter speed of around 80.

Does that help?

Alia joy

Yes, I’m still learning which button does what on my camera. I have a cheat sheet. I think the biggest problem comes with indoor photos in low light but with the subjects,my wiggly children, moving too much. Hmmm, bribing with quarters. That might work. Thanks Michelle!


Bribing totally works! ;)

What camera do you have? If it’s a Canon, try this for indoor low light:

Set your dial to TV (S ona Nikon).

Turn your little black finger dial (looks and feels like a little bumpy gear) to make the shutter speed read 80.

Set your ISO to 1600.

Then see how this photos look.

If it’s too dark still, take your ISO up a level (if your camera goes higher). If it’s too bright, take your ISO down a level.


Make some coffee or tea and make a date with your camera and manual. (The best thing anyone can do to improve their photography!) :)


Thank you so much for these tips! I have so, so much to learn about photography, and blurry photos is my number one frustration. Granted, I can’t get my son to stop moving ever for a picture, so that doesn’t help things. :)


I hear ya on the moving boys! I paid my littlest one a quarter to keep his cute, wrinkly, bath feet still for a shot last night. :)

Thought I’d pass on a couple of tips that came to mind as I thought about your comment…

To avoid blur that comes from camera shake make sure your shutter speed is 80 or above.

To avoid blur that comes from fast moving children make sure your shutter speed is 125 or higher.

Hope that helps!


Yeah, learned that one the hard way. :( My husband was taking pictures of my dads wedding and somehow from the wedding to the house while I was looking at the pictures they got deleted. The worst!


Oh no! That stinks! :(

Gail Debenport

Michelle, Robin lost some pics like that once and Richard (computer engineering degree) was able to get them off the card another way. You might want to give them a call. On another note. You might want to tell your photo students that if they can keep their shutter speed above their heart rate, they should get a sharp picture (unless the subject moves faster). It was always my understanding that the heart rate is what caused the movement. For those who have a 60 beat per minute heart rate, setting the shutter speed on 70 or 80 should work. And, of course it would not hurt to hold their breath. Good post.


I’ve never heard that about the heart rate, but it makes total sense. Thanks, Aunt Gail!

Unfortunately I gave up and reformatted the card. They’re totally gone now. After I shot a couple more pics and had the same thing occur. Threw the card away.


Super useful tips here. Thanks! I have to shoot children’s theater sometimes, tough combo of low light and fast movement. I will try some of the tips in this post and comments.

Betsy at Zen Mama

My husband is giving me an SLR for my birthday so I can catch up with some of your suggestions that didn’t quite make sense for my simpler point and shoot.

Love this! Thanks for ongoing advice!!


Ohhhhhhhhhhhh I love this. And thank you for the WONDERFUL and subtle reminder that I need to back up images this weekend. *sigh*


This weekend I thought I almost lost some very important photos (including birth day of my youngest!) – luckily I was wrong. So sorry you lost some photos! Hugs!


In regards to your lost images on the card. There are programs that open the card and recover the lost images. Saved me many days. Sandisk has one just for their cards online. Everything on the card can be found again. Not sure if you knew that. Just heads up. thanks for all your helpful information.

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