Mentioned in this episode


Hey, how’s it going?  I’m Andy Jones, and this is episode 142 of the Photography Side Hustle podcast.

So before I start, I want to mention Threads, which is the meta version of Twitter. I mentioned it two episodes ago, and it could be a great opportunity. We need to do this as a group to help us get more followers and, in turn, more exposure.

So, if we all add #pshpod to our posts and follow anyone with #pshpod in their posts, we can grow together.

In fact, we can use the same hashtag on Instagram.

When you go on Threads (or Instagram), do a search for #pshpod. Everyone with that tag will be listed. Go through the list and follow them, and if someone follows you, follow them back.

The bigger your network is and the more you post, the more the Threads (and Instagram algorithms will promote you to a broader audience. 

So use the #pshpod hashtag, and we’ll all grow together.



Okay, let’s take a look at taking sharper, more professional photos.

The first thing is …


Keep your camera still

This is key to getting any photo sharp and in focus. Avoid any movement as you depress the shutter button. The slightest change of position can cause the photo to be slightly soft and out of focus.

Shooting handheld with a slow shutter speed can result in a soft photo. The rule is the shutter speed should match the focal length of the lens. 

So, if you are using a 50mm lens, the shutter speed shouldn’t go below 1/50 of a second. The minimum shutter speed with a 200mm lens should be no less than 1/200 of a second.

This rule was from back in the film days when cameras didn’t have lens and body stabilization. So it is possible to use slower shutter speeds, but as a rule of thumb, it will improve your photos if you are having camera shake problems.

If you are still having problems, use a tripod or monopod. A tripod is perfect when shooting static portraits. A monopod is more often used for sports and wildlife photography, but you could easily use one for shooting portraits.

While I’m on the subject of portraits, the next thing that will give you more professional photos is …

Focus on an eye

I see so many portraits where the eyes of the subject are not in sharp focus. The focus point is either on the ear, chin, or body. A photo with the eyes of the subject in sharp focus draws the viewer in. If the eyes are out of focus, the image just doesn’t look right.

Most newer camera bodies have eye detection, and that makes the photographer’s life way easier. If your camera doesn’t have it, you need to put a single focus point on the subject’s eye. It’s best not to use multiple focus points when taking portraits. Just a single point is needed.

You can either change the focus point to match the subject’s eye position or use autofocus lock. Autofocus lock will allow you to use the center focus point on the eye nearest you, reframe the scene and take the photo. The eye should still be in focus as long as you don’t change your position.

Using back-button focus will give you the same feature.

Look up Exposure Lock, Focus Lock, and Back-Button Focus in your camera manual.

Having your subject’s eyes in focus is crucial to a good portrait. 


Next is … 



Knowing how Depth of Field works is your first step to controlling how you want your photo to look.

The depth of field is the distance between the nearest and the furthest objects that are in acceptably sharp focus.

So, if you are doing a portrait and you focus on the subject’s eye, the depth of field is the distance in front and behind the subject’s eye that is in focus. That distance can be controlled by which camera, lens, aperture, or the distance you are from the subject.

Luckily, there is an app for that, and it’s free. It’s called PhotoPills. I’ll put a link in the show notes and over at

I’ll give you a quick example.

Your camera is a Canon T7, and the lens is 50mm. Your aperture is f/2.8, and you are 7 feet from the subject.

The total DoF is 7.54”.  3.60” in front of the focus point and 3.94” behind the focus point. 

So, if you were focusing on the subject’s eye, 3.60” in front of the eye would be in focus. That is, all their face would be in focus, unless their nose was longer than 3.60”.

Behind the eye, everything would be in focus up to 3.94” or 4 inches. So, behind their ears, the image would start to be out of focus, which is perfect for a portrait.

When you look at a portrait where you can see everything in the background, it sometimes looks amateurish and more of a snapshot than a portrait.

Spend time learning what you can do with depth of field. Knowing what depth of field to use is crucial to getting everything you need in focus.


Next is …

Choose the right background

This is something that you need to do if you want to make your photos stand out.

Choose a background that is in contrast to your subject. If they are wearing light colors, put them in front of a darker background, and it will give separation.

A subject wearing green clothes will blend into a background of green trees. 

Keep your subjects away from the background if you want to use a shallow depth of field and have the background out of focus.

This also works well when the only background is ugly. I once took a portrait in front of an old blue and rusty garage door. I had the subject stand 20 feet forward of it and used a shallow depth of field. 

Instead of a garage door, the background was blurry blue and brown, and the subject popped. 


Next is …


Choose the best time for outdoor shoots

The worst time of day for outdoor photo sessions is mid-day. The sun is at its highest, and the light is harsh.

Consider shooting early in the morning or a couple of hours before sunset. The light is softer and more flattering for your subjects. 

If you have to shoot in the middle of the day, think about getting a flash.


Using a flash will let you take control of the light. Shooting outdoors in strong sunlight can cause shadows across the subject’s face or make them squint.

If you use a flash, you can eliminate the shadows and get professional results. Even if you position the subject under a tree, you can still get patchy light. So, use a flash and take control.


Learn how to edit

This is a biggy. You need to know how to edit your photos.

You hear a lot of photographers say they like to get it perfect in camera. Well, I would bet there isn’t one decent professional photographer who doesn’t edit their images.

If you think the top portrait photographers produce stunning photos right out of the camera, I’ve got news for you. They edit them until they are perfect.

It doesn’t matter if you shoot sports, landscapes, real estate, or portraits. You need to maximize every photo that a customer will see.

Lightroom and Photoshop have never been easier to use, and with the addition of AI, they can do things we didn’t even dream of a year ago.

So, learn how to edit your photos and take a professional approach to your photography.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got for this episode.

If you need help with anything, you can join the Facebook.

Remember to use the hashtag #pshpod in your Instagram and Threads posts, and follow anyone else who is using it. 

Right, I’ll be back next week with photo stuff. I’ll talk to you then, bye.