WEEK ONE – VSCO Cam & Basic Photo Tips

Hi Class!

First of all, I just want to say that I had a great time meeting all of you today and I’m excited to see how you progress as amateur photographers. I was loving your pictures today — many of you really surprised me with your “best photos”. Awesome work!

This is our class blog where I will post your homework (how to improve over the week), how to be prepared for our next class, interesting photos, links or videos, and a quick review of what we went over in our class.

 VSCO Cam — Focus & Exposure “bubbles” (focus points)


Remember to use this awesome VSCO feature! Like we saw with Micah’s portraits of Aidan, proper exposure gives your picture dimension — it won’t look “flat” because it’s washed out from too much light.

Put the “focus” point on what you want to be “in focus”/sharp.

Play around with the “exposure” point to get the best exposure for your subject.

Focusing on something that’s dark will cause the camera to let in more light and brighten up your picture.

Focusing on something that’s light will cause your camera to let in less light and result in a darker picture.

The exposure point controls the camera’s APERTURE — the camera “opening” (like a pinhole camera) that opens up to let in more light (good for night shots or dark areas), or closes down to let it less light (good for when you’re in a bright place)

Exposure Cheat Sheet


A simple subject doesn’t always mean an “interesting picture” — but it really does help.

What’s a subject?

The subject is the first thing the viewer notices or the thing that you want the viewer to focus on — the thing you’re taking a picture of.

SOME EXAMPLES (with descriptions so you know how easy it is to take pictures throughout your day)…

One subject

– use light and sun flares to add interest

– Use distance to emphasize focus on the subject

Morning sunlight through my windshield.
Golden-hour walk down our street.
Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset
Waiting for pizza at Brothers Pizza in Pasadena.
Processed with VSCOcam with x1 preset
Seal Beach

Angles, angles, angles! Tilt that camera! Lay down, roll over, do a handstand – whatever it takes to get an interesting shot.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset
Looking UP at Maranatha High School.
Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset
Looking UP the bleachers at Arcadia High School.
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Waiting in line at California Screamin’.
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Next to Brothers Pizza.
Seats behind me at Bridges Auditorium.
Seal Beach

Windows make great subjects

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Looking UP while lifting weights at 24HR Fitness.
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Bathroom window at last semester’s location.


Processed with VSCOcam with se1 preset
Over-exposed (on purpose to make myself look like a porcelain doll or a painting) selfie.
Left-over glitter after a craft.
Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset
Reflection of rear car lights on asphalt next to my car on Myrtle.

Shadows and scattered light are awesome, too.

IMG_1629 Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Landscapes + silhouettes (dark/shadows objects or people int he foreground)

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Processed with VSCOcam

Fog — everything looks cool in fog.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset IMG_1804

Leading lines/vanishing points direct the eye through your picture.

Driving home at sunset.


TAKE 50-100 PICTURES PER DAY. This sounds like a lot. But if you take 10 pictures of the same subject (different angles, framing, distance, etc.), its like taking pictures of 5-10 things per day. This is super easy if you carry around your device with you. You can take pictures anywhere — while you’re in the car, waiting in the dentist’s office (I did this last week!), at a sports game.

BRING 5 or more “best pictures” from your week.

Try to use the tips mentioned above. Experiment. Take lots of pictures of everything and anything. You can always delete them later.


** I used examples of my personal pictures from when I first started using VSCO. These pictures might not all be “amazing”, but I didn’t want to have to link to original sources for everything — that would take a long time to write. 🙂

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