10 Photography Lessons Learned

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Before I even begin this post on my top 10 photography lessons learned, I want to say that I am so not an expert…at anything and particularly not at photography. It has not come easy for me and there have been many times I wanted to throw in the towel. Except for raising my children, I have never tried so hard to do something well. Ever.

10 Photography Lessons learned by a DIY blogger. Photography tips and advice. Photo editing program suggestions. Camera lens & camera equipment ideas.

Over the past three years, despite all the setbacks, I have learned a few things. If, by sharing my story, I can help someone out there somewhere, than this post will have served its purpose. There has been one person who has taken me under her wing, so to speak, and helped me immensely. Her patience and generosity have brought my photos from mediocre to very acceptable. My friend Dawn, from Creative Cain Cabin, is a gifted photographer. She is a natural and has spent literally hours with me on the phone giving me little tutorials and pep talks. Now on to the lessons learned.

*Some links lead to websites where I am an affiliate. Click HERE for my disclosure statement.

10 Photography Lessons Learned

Photography Tip #1: Buy a basic DSLR.

When I started my blog, I didn’t own a camera.  I knew exactly nothing about photography. I didn’t take the time to research what I should buy or how to get started. Big mistake. I went out and bought a $100 point and shoot. I literally, in my opinion, wasted the first year of my blog trying to make it work. When I finally realized I needed a better camera was when the process of becoming a photographer really began. I shopped and looked, and looked and shopped some more. I ended up buying a beginner Canon Rebel T3. Two years later, I still think it was the right choice for me.

Update November 2017: In 2015 I upgraded to this Canon EOS 60D. It is discontinued by the manufacturer but still available for purchase. The Canon Rebel T3 has been discontinued by the manufacturer. The new version is the Canon Rebel T5.

Photography Tip #2: Upgrade one lens ASAP.

Moving on now to the second year of my blog and trying to learn my new camera. I’m not going to lie. I found it hard and frustrating. One thing I was constantly fighting with was the lens that came with the camera, an 18-55 mm zoom. I had just spent all that money on a new camera and couldn’t justify turning around and buying a new lens. If I had, I would have saved myself months of tearing my hair out! Most kit lenses are bad and mine was no different. When I gave up and purchased a new lens it was the 50 mm for my food photos. I didn’t get the expensive one…mine cost about $100.00. After that I got the 35 mm for room photos. I adore this lens and wish I had bought it with the camera.

10 Photography Lessons Learned update November 2017: Since I wrote this post, I have upgraded both of these lenses. I now use this 50 mm lens and this 35 mm lens. 

Photography Tip #3: Take a class.

January 2013 ~ I was still in sort of a fog when it came to my camera and the settings. I was shooting on Auto but knew I needed to stop. The fog began to lift when I took the Shoot Fly Shoot Photography class for beginners. You buy the online video and it’s yours forever. I watched it three times before I picked up my camera to adjust the settings. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve watched it but every time I do I learn something new.

Photography Tip #4: Get off AUTO.

As soon as I figured out my camera settings I began shooting in Manual. I said goodbye to Auto and have never looked back.  There were a million times I considered using Auto again but in my mind, that was moving backwards. No one wants to do that. During this period my photos weren’t great and I struggled with editing. But I didn’t give up which I guess is the most important thing.

Photography Tip #5: Get a Tripod.

When I purchased my first tripod, for about $20 from Walmart, things improved immensely. Eliminating the camera shake which occurs when you hold the camera really helped sharpen my photos. I know I sound like a broken record, but I wish I would have gotten the tripod when I got the camera!

This is the tripod I’m currently using. 

Photography Tip #6: Use the timer.

Along with using the tripod, I began using the timer on my camera. This, for me, was a light-bulb moment. The two combined, tripod and timer, changed the way I thought about photography. I set the shots up differently and began to see more improvement.

Photography Tip #7: Get an editing program.

Fall 2013 ~ Editing programs are intimidating. Believe me, I get it. I spent the better part of three years avoiding them entirely.  I used Picasa, then Picnik and then PicMonkey. All are free options and very user friendly. Shortly after I bought my camera I purchased Photoshop Elements with an Amazon gift card. I never figured it out though…the only thing I use it for is to add text to my pics. When Dawn recommended Photoshop Lightroom, I didn’t jump on board right away. The more she raved about how easy it was, the more curious I became. Just a few months ago I downloaded a 30 day free trial. For me, it was a total game changer. Dawn gave me a short tutorial over the phone and I took it from there. To say the photos on my blog have improved is an understatement. Keep in mind I didn’t change anything else…just the editing program. When my free trial ran out I didn’t hesitate a second in buying the full version. Now I couldn’t blog without it.

One thing it’s very important to know: you need to shoot in RAW to take full advantage of any editing program. I learned that very late in the game as well.

Photography Tip #8: Secret Pinterest board.

The power of Pinterest is mind-boggling.  As bloggers, we have learned to use it to our advantage. One thing that Pinterest did for us was to introduce secret boards. I have a secret board where I pin great photos that I use for inspiration. If you see a beautiful dessert photo, or an amazing room shot, pin it to your secret board. Visit the board when you need ideas or just to remind yourself of the possibilities. Endless possibilities.

Photography Tip #9: Frustrated? Take a break.

There were times during the past year that I literally wanted to either pull my hair out or quit altogether. I put tremendous pressure on myself to get “the perfect shot.” I spent hours trying to style my photos so they would be accepted by the Gawker sites.  I know now that I was not pointing my energy in the right direction. I had to step back and stop obsessing to see what was right in front of me. Which was that I needed to take the picture, edit well and not worry about anything else. It wasn’t until I had almost forgotten about those Gawker sites that my photos started being accepted on a regular basis. If something is giving you a hard time, walk away. Forget about it for a while to clear your mind. When you come back to it, your perspective will be different.

Photography Tip #10: Practice

I’ve left this lesson for last because it’s one I still struggle with all the time. Taking the time to practice your photography seems like a no-brainer but finding the time is hard. Our time is precious and some of us barely have time to blog to begin with. Here’s what I learned…don’t practice for the sake of practicing. When you are shooting a project, take extra shots from different angles. Experiment with your camera settings. It may add 5 or 10 minutes to your photo shoot but eventually you won’t even consider it practicing. I don’t do this, but Dawn never leaves the house without her camera. That’s another great way to get some extra time behind the lens. Even if you are waiting in the take out line at Panera, you can shoot some pics!

Photography Bonus Tip: Don’t give up.

I really don’t know what has stopped me from totally giving up because there were a million times I wanted to do just that. I confess that I’ve been reduced to tears on more than one occasion while either shooting or editing. Those rejection emails from Gawker were enough to make me want to curl up and quit. All I can say is that in order to grow my blog, I knew that I needed to improve my photography. For a creative blogger, photography is everything.  I’ve been incredibly lucky along the way too. I’ve made a lot of bad decisions but intermingled with those have been a few good ones. After three years and all I’ve been through, giving up is no longer an option. I hope these 10 photography lessons learned help you to avoid some of the frustration I have felt along the way!

Before I go I want to share with you the best photo I have taken so far…in my opinion.

10 Photography Lessons learned by a DIY blogger. Photography tips and advice. Photo editing program suggestions. Camera lens & camera equipment ideas.

Like many lovely moments in life, it wasn’t planned or thought out. It just happened.

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  1. After reading this post I had a hunch you were selling your talent short. I ended up looking into some of your archived posts and I was right. You’re work is definitely not mediocre. You’re shots are beautiful because they come from you.

  2. Thank you so much. This greatly helped me. I’m an amateur photographer and absolutely love the art of photography, been at it for decades.

    Just wanted to take the time to say thank you. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and great tips!

  3. Ann, this has to be, by far one of the best posts regarding photography learning curve I’ve read! I just purchased my first entry level professional camera and my mind is jello from reading and reading and watching tutorials. In this one post you answered a number of remaining questions. Thank you from this new blogger!
    leelee @paperbagstyling.blogspot.com

  4. Laurie@ Vin'yet Etc. says:

    Thank-you so much for sending me the link to this, I have pinned and will probably reread, oh a dozen times! In my opinion, your photos are some of the best in the massive blogosphere! All of that hard work, worth it! Beautiful!

  5. I received a Nikon DX3100 for my birthday last October. I took an online class that was not meant for beginners. I am still struggling with terminology and settings….on auto still. I have taken you suggestions to heart and hope that I will improve as a result. Thank you.

  6. Thank you for this post, I’m definitely going to take that online class you recommended! I took a class in community college and felt like I learned absolutely nothing :( What is your photo organizing method? Do you use any specific programs to organize your photos?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Cailey! The thing about the online class is that you can go back and watch a segment over and over again. It’s not like you are actually sitting in class and hear something just one time. My organization is not great. I have all my edited pics in folders on my computer. My pics in Lightroom are not organized but that is on my list to do at some point. I am getting better at deleting unused pics from Lightroom so only the good ones are there. Shoot Fly Shoot has a class on Lightroom that tells how to organize the pics. I bought it too and hope to figure this all out at some point. Good luck!

  7. Ann, bless you for writing this post! My photos absolutely suck and now I know why. I’m doing almost everything wrong. :/ Thank you for sharing your experiences in this very easy to understand post! I will be pinning this for future reference. Blessings, Rachel

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hang in there Rachel…we are our own worst critics. I’m sure your pics aren’t as bad as you think…but I honestly know how you feel. Like I said in the post, there were times I was reduced to a puddle of tears. So silly. Good luck with your photography! ~Ann

  8. Ashley Crang says:

    Hi Ann, I came across this post on pinterest. I must say, I couldn’t agree with you more! I was nodding my head for every one of these. And there were two I was on the fence about, and now reading this, you have convinced me! The first is to buy a 50mm lens. I’ve been debating about it for a year now. I’m finally going to take the leap! The second, was about the editing program. And it seems like serendipitous timing, because literally today I was looking at different editing program options and wondering if I should invest in one, and which one to go with. Thank you so much for this! I bookmarked your blog, and look forward to checking back again soon.

  9. Oh wow, I’m so thankful to have found this post! I’ve been pulling my hair out as well trying to get the “perfect shots” and haven’t stepped out of auto. Now, I have hope & will refer back to this post a lot! Thanks so much for taking the time to type this & share!

  10. Bill Gulland says:

    These are some of the best and most encouraging tips I have read.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thank you so much Bill…words such as yours are the reason I wrote the post. Best of luck ~ Ann

  11. Such great tips!! The tripod was a game changer for me! Mine was $4 at a thrift store….best $4 spent!! Your pictures are always gorgeous!

  12. Mary Beth|Cupcakes and Crinoline says:

    You are a doll, Ann, and I can’t thank you enough for sharing this post. I have wanted to pull my hair out in handfuls and run around screaming lately because I just can’t seem to get things right, especially my photography. I have a secret pinterest board filled with inspiring photographs (many of them yours). I’m trying to figure out overhead photography right now….among a million other things, and just can seem to get it right. Thanks for being such a constant stream of inspiration and kindness. I am so glad that you have such a good friend in Dawn who is willing to share her wonderful talent with you like you do with ‘us’! Have a blessed weekend.

  13. Yvonne @ StoneGable says:

    I’m back for the third time reading this great post. Your photography is gorgeous, Ann! Thanks for the tips! Very generous!

  14. I love this post!! It sums up my whole experience with my camera. I too purchased the Canon T3. Great beginner camera. I am learning something new with every photo I take. Thank you for you advice and words of encouragement.

  15. I have the camera, now you have given me the courage to really use it. Thank you!

  16. WOW Ann I need this post. One of my goals for 2014 is to get the heck off Auto!!
    Thank you so much…I took notes!

  17. Found your blog today, love photography. I have a Sony nex,one day I’ll grow up, but for now it has allmost all the same functions,and takes decent photos. I’m just a hobbyists. Enjoyed your writing and yes once you flip it to manual there is no want to go back. Still playing with a photo shop type thing wish they were all as easy as pic monkey. I’m gonna try raw and use the photo thing not even sure what I’m using.I’m gonna try after reading this,keep up the good writing.

  18. Hey Ann,
    I just found your blog through my friend Bonnie. I had posted about taking a blogging break and she referred me to your post. I love every word you wrote…I use the same camera and have just gotten a 50mm lens and have started learning it….tripod? check.. You gave some good advice and I have pinned it so I can refer back.. I am right there in the taking a break phase..hoping to be back sooner rather than later.. I will be following you now…great blog..thank you..
    Love, Mona

  19. Tierra Harris says:

    Thanks for your post. I have been behind a camera for years now and can TOTALLY relate to your tips! I currently have the Canon T3i but I have a love/hate relationship with pictures and my camera. I want to be great but always end up mediocre (in my mind) depending on my mood. This blog encourages me for the new year to shoot for ME and not have to impress anyone. Thank you for that.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      If you’ve got that already figured out you have pretty much won the battle with the lens. Shoot for you and have fun!

  20. My hubby just purchased a Nikon DSLR for me for Christmas and your post couldn’t be be more timely!

    I’ve always been interested in photography and longed to develop my skills, but was paralyzed with fear at buying the “wrong” camera, lenses and such.

    My new camera and your top ten has given me the courage to watch the instructional DVD, really get to know my camera and practice, practice, practice!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Good luck Lana…take your time and have a good time!

  21. Oh, Ann! I always thought your snaps were wonderful. You really do have an eye. I have the same camera as you but so need to buy a lens and take that class. I guess Iet life and money get in the way! :) Great post and thanks for all of the tips. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  22. Doreen@househoneys says:

    Add my name to your long list of admirers Ann. Your photos are stunning and it is clear you take a great deal of pride in all you do.

    Like you, I had a point and shoot for the first year I blogged. Last spring I purchased the rebel T3i and I was fortunate to get the advice of an expert and didn’t get the kit lens, but instead purchased the 18-135 that you referred to. Several months later I bought the 85mm and a tripod. Although the 85 mm has its limitations (you have to be at least 3′ away from your subject) I use it primarily for close up shots and I like that it’s a fast lens. I’m not sure what my next lens should be, but I do know I need to get my act in gear and stop using Picasa for editing. I also need to shoot in raw but keep hearing it uses too much space and slows your computer down, and my computer is on it’s last legs as it is. I’m thinking if getting a Mac, but we shall see.

    Dawn is a very generous (and intelligent) soul. It’s always helpful to have someone who has btdt and is happy to share their knowledge and expertise.

    Thank you for this inspiring and informative post!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      You are so welcome Doreen! Why don’t you download the free trial of Lightroom and just see if you like it? Dawn has at least one tutorial on her blog with hints on how to use it. Good luck!

  23. Deb@CookingOnTheFrontBurner says:

    This is a fantastic post… it mimics some of my experiences. I received this camera a year ago and went to the classes they offered and also bought 2 lenses the 50 prime and Canon macro 100 2.8 IS. Next is that 35MM. I wish I tried Lightroom before I purchased PSE11but I can make it work for me. Oh and I love the secret board on Pinterest… you might see a few of your pictures on there…. again, great post – pinning for reference!!

  24. Linda M Powers says:

    Ann ~ This topic was meant to be….I just purchased a Canon Rebel T3 for myself for Christmas! At 58 years old I am trying to teach myself how to photograph children. Your information, as usual, is inspirational! I pinned it! I love Pinterest! Any advice on getting my blog off the ground? I started a simple blog with blogger on google with the intention of sharing my quilled cards and crafts ideas but unfortunately, I’m finding it difficult to dedicate any time or effort to working on it in the past year. I also work 30 hours a week as a Pharmacy Technician, Maybe if I knew some of the benefits received I would apply more effort and attention to building my blog. What are the Gawker sites? What is the advantage of their approval? Do you think more Blogger sites are wanted or needed at this time? Doesn’t it seem as though the internet is saturated with bloggers? Thank you once again Ann for inviting us into your home and sharing so much of yourself.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Keep plugging away with your blog Linda…they take a lot of time but they are very rewarding. The Gawker sites are foodgawker.com, dwellinggawker.com and craftgawker.com. They feature your projects and link to your blog post resulting in extra traffic. Yes there are a lot of blogs but I think the internet is big enough for all of us! Thank you for following along and Happy New Year!

  25. Marci Goorabian says:

    Ann thank you for all your insite! I really want to buy a new camera and take amazing photos ! I know have a “new hope” that I too may be able to get this! Happy New Year:)

    1. Ann Drake says:

      You can do it Marci! Good luck and Happy New Year!

  26. Sonnet O'kane says:

    Thank you Ann these are wonderful tips! I’m a new blogger and really needed the encouragement as well as the tips to keep me going!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Take one thing at a time and don’t look at the big picture. Good luck Sonnet! (p.s. I love your name!)

  27. Yvonne @ StoneGable says:

    Ann, What amazing tips. I’ll be visiting this post over and over again! I’d love to talk to you about using lightroom. I’ve heard rave reviews. Thanks so much for sharing such great advice! Happy New Year, dear friend! Your photos are some of the best in blogland!

  28. Thank you Ann, for sharing your helpful tips! I have tried a bit of photography and some is good, and some is not so good. There is so much to learn and I get overwhelmed by it all. I appreciate your breaking it down and also your words of encouragement. You have lovely photos on your blog!

  29. Ann, thank you for putting so many great tips into one post! I’m sure I’ll refer back to it often. Happy New Year to you and your family :)

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thanks Jody! I think your photos are amazing. Best wishes to you and your family for a Happy 2014!

  30. First of all, this post said to me, “Merry Christmas, Kelley! Unwrap this gift every day of the next year!” Believe me, I WILL! Thank you so much for the great advice. The post is jam-packed with it, for sure.

    I have a question, er, several: #6. USE THE TIMER. You stated that you “set the shots up differently and began to see more improvement.” Why use the timer? Is this because you’re in the photo(s)? I’ve not followed On Sutton Place for a real long time, but honestly, I don’t see you in the photos much. Would you expound regarding use of the timer?

    And you don’t mention a remote for your camera, like a lot of sewists use to photograph themselves in their creations. Any advice on that which either you or another photographer has to share?

    On 7. GET AN EDITING PROGRAM, I wanted to dissolve into tears. I have had an Adobe editing program still sitting in the box, sealed in plastic, for more than a year. I’m too terrified to take it out and use it. I will certainly look into the free trial you suggested. It’s priceless for me to hear someone else’s experiences.

    And when you say RAW, I guess I don’t know what that means.

    The best photo you’ve ever taken that you shared? It is truly breathtaking. I would be proud to stamp my name on that for sure.

    Q: I still haven’t gotten into watermarking my images. I caption them in Picasa, but could you address that? It seems to me that thieves can still hack your images and claim them as their own; I read about it all the time by some frustrated bloggers and artists.

    Q: And saving images. I put my project images in folders, but what about Picasa and the images you use on your blog? I use Blogger, and Picasa just seems to be a great place to keep them all. Besides, WHERE ELSE can I keep them?

    A very healthy New Year to you on your happy highways,
    Kelley of Kelley Highway

  31. I’m new to your Blog having arrived here via Miss Mustard Seed. So far I’ve saved recipes, gotten holiday decorating tips, but this information on photography is so inspiring that I’m putting together a purchase so I can wander the world feeling really inspired. I’m 74 and still remember taking strange photos as a child in mystical settings I created which never turned out on film. Of course, I didn’t have a flash so never discovered the why of it. Thanks so very much!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thank you Jan…I’m so glad you are following along. Good luck with your purchase and Happy New Year!

  32. Just started following your blog recently and love it! I am not a blogger just enjoy following, but so enjoyed this one about your struggles with photography. I have always wanted to buy and know how to use a good camera and you gave me so much needed information. Thank you so much for sharing that and Ilove the photo! Now I plan to start on my photo journey with some much needed information! Happy “shooting” and look forward to your future blogs!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thank you Anita…good luck with your camera!

  33. Cathy Basinski says:

    Excellent article; I learned a lot. I’m going to save this and I have a feeling I will go back to it several times. The first thing I am going to do is buy a new camera; I have been thinking about the for awhile.

    Happy New Year, Cathy Basinski

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I know it’s hard to spend the money but it really is the best thing to do. The easy pay option on qvc is pretty painless!

  34. Jill Jones says:

    Hi, Ann! Great post today. I was thinking to myself yesterday when I received your blog post (top recipes of 2013) in my email how gifted you are as a photographer. I think you have the most beautiful shots and your editing is terrific. I also like your blog’s layout and design very much. Keep up the great work. I look forward to following your journey in 2014! Happy New Year, Ann.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thank you Jill…I am so grateful for your kind words!

  35. Ann, hello and happy new year. Started following recently…..I think it all started with your fabulous front porch. I always open your emails and I almost fell off the couch. My sig other bought me the exact same camera for Christmas because I love taking pics of my 2 dogs, 3 cats, 2 feral cats that live on my deck and the birds and squirrels. But, I am a true greenhorn and have everything to learn. I will try everything you mentioned because I really want to do this. My daughter is sel taught and takes beautiful photos. She will also be a help when she comes to visit….she will be my Dawn. Thanks so much for posting this….a feel a tad hopeful.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Believe me Diane…if I can do this you can too. You are so lucky you will have someone to help you along the way. That makes such a difference. Good luck and Happy New Year!

  36. How did you know I needed this, Ann? :) We purchased our first DSLR camera from QVC for Christmas, I got the Canon Rebel T3i (thanks to your advice). Thankfully, I got the bundle with the extra lens (75-300 mm), camera bag, software, etc… And yes I chose the easy pay, isn’t that wonderful?! Your pictures are always beautiful and I especially love the one in this post. Thanks for the tips and Happy New Year!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Ahh good purchase Deni! Good luck with everything and Happy New Year to you too!

  37. Thank you, Ann, for so generously sharing this. I know I need to buy an SLR, but have put it off because it scares me! I guess I also want to make sure I’m going to stick with blogging before making that investment. But, you have inspired me to think about it more seriously. I’ve pinned this, as I’ve found it really helpful, and know I will want to refer back to it. Thanks!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I know it’s scary. Take that leap of faith…even if you don’t continue to blog (I hope you do though) you will love taking pictures of your family. Happy New Year!

  38. Thanks for all the advice. I just got my first DSLR for Christmas and I’m considering getting a 50mm lens, Your post may just have been the deciding factor. I have a ton to learn, but it’s nice getting advice from someone who started knowing nothing and now has some gorgeous photos

    1. Ann Drake says:

      The 50 mm is very affordable and does a great job on close ups. You will love it. Good luck!

  39. Very lovely photo indeed! May I ask what lens you used to shoot it? I have a Rebel T1i that I need to get out and shoot some photos with, it been awhile.Thanks for sharing your 10 lessons and also for the Deco Steals information, I ordered that 3 tiered basket today. : )

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I used the 35 mm to shoot the porch railing. Right now it’s my favorite and does the best job. I have to move around quite a bit so I’m anxious to get a zoom too! You will love that basket!

  40. Jane @ Cottage at the Crossroads says:

    Ann, when I saw that photo the other day, I thought it was your best yet, too. You see, I can recognize great photography but get frustrated because I don’t know enough to capture anything like that! Santa brought me a 50 mm lens for Christmas. I got a tripod last year but have only used it a few times. I’ll sign up for the ShootFlyShoot classes through your affiliate link soon and try Lightroom. And you may hear your phone ringing in January!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I’m not an affiliate for Shoot Fly Shoot…I probably should be! I just think it’s awesome. The 50 mm is very easy to use once you get used to a fixed lens. You will love it for your food photos. January and February are good months to focus on something like this. Holler if you need anything!

  41. I’ve been admiring your photography for some time now..and am taking notes. I finally bought a DSLR and am so eager to improve my photography skills. Thank you for sharing your tips…. You are an inspiration…always leading the way before me.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I adore you too. Good luck with your new camera…you will love it!

  42. Shannon @ Fox Hollow Cottage says:

    Great advice. All of it. I could not agree more.
    And I love, love…. LOVE that photo.
    When I first saw it… I was like; “Oh. My. THAT is amazing looking!!”
    Great job on that one lady!!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thanks Shannon…I have so enjoyed getting to know you better this past year. Looking forward to a wonderful 2014 for both of us! Happy New Year!

  43. Ann, your photos are something I always notice. And funny enough – that one you pointed out as your best – well I had noticed it the other day and said to myself: “that’s the best one yet!”. So kind of Dawn to mentor you. She’s a caring person indeed and talented. Your photos are just lovely, Ann. Thanks for your lessons learned.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thanks Mary…you always say the nicest things. Happy New Year!

  44. Penny @ The Comforts of Home says:

    Great tips Ann! I am going to check out that 35mm lens…

    1. Ann Drake says:

      You should…you will love it. You have big rooms so it will be great for corners and vignettes. My rooms are so small sometimes it gets the whole room! Happy New Year Penny!

  45. debbiedoos says:

    I need to get that 35 MM lens, that is my next investment Ann! Your photos are just gorgeous and I can see how far you have come!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thanks girl…no one know better than you how hard I have tried. Thank you for being such a good friend!

  46. Katie @ Wildwood Creek says:

    Great tips! I’ve noticed your photos improve year by year. I also took the Shoot Fly Shoot photography class, and it was a total game changer.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      It’s so nice to hear from you Katie…hope you are well. I always thought your photos were lovely. Happy New Year!

  47. Kathleen G says:

    Informative post and very spot on. My husband went through everything you did and it is a on going process. Also my husband has a friend who is a professional photographer. I am glad Dawn can help you along the way. Her photos are beautiful. I love your blog and your photos give us inspiration for our homes. Looking forward to your blog in 2014. Happy New Year, Kathleen in Az

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thank you Kathleen…Happy New Year!

  48. Thanks for all the good advice Ann! I have a Nikon DSLR and need a new lens for general use. I don’t usually shoot whole rooms so I will look into a 50mm or maybe the 18-135… I tried the lightroom free trial and I liked it too… have to give the “shooting in RAW” a try…. Thanks! Susan

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I don’t shoot whole rooms either because my rooms are just too small. You would love the 35 mm or the zoom. Definitely start shooting in RAW. Happy New Year!

  49. Great post girl, and I enjoyed every word. Thank you so much for the mention, it warms my heart. I truly value our friendship and have enjoyed sharing tips with you. I agree your photo is magnificent, keep up the great work and never give up :)

    1. Ann Drake says:

      You have been the best friend. Your patience has amazed me and I am so grateful. Here’s to maybe actually meeting in 2014. Happy New Year!