one of the secrets to great photography

by | Oct 4, 2011 | Photography, Running a Business | 57 comments

The clock ticked past 9:00 tonight and I still had no idea what I was going to post about.  It was one of those days when I work on things that are very uninteresting.  I primed the baseboard heaters in my family room and the under side of my kitchen cabinets.  Bo-ring.  I was about ready to get my camera out and snap a “before” picture of my heaters, but that seemed a little silly…even in the blog world.  I have finished three pieces of furniture, but I have to lug them into the house for their “beauty shots” and that just wasn’t going to happen today.  So, here I am…late into the evening and dry on material. 
I started looking through my old photographs for some inspiration.  As I scrolled through some I took over a year ago, it hit me.  I knew what I wanted to post about. 
When I take pictures now, like the one above, I use a tripod.  What I learned is that even the slightest bit of a shake can make a picture blurry.  The picture below was taken over a year ago.  Even though I had a tripod, I was too lazy to use it.  I would just lean against the door frame or hold my breath or some other nonsense.   
Now, look at a picture below that I took recently using a tripod.  Not only is the exposure better, but the picture is sharper.  I reached a point when I realized that I just needed to get off my duff, get the tripod out of the closet and have a proper photo shoot. 
What a tripod allows for is a slower shutter speed.  A slower shutter speed means the “window” of the camera is open longer and lets in more light.  That means you can take a picture on a dark, cloudy day and it’ll look sunny and bright.  It means a lot for interior photography. 
If you don’t have a tripod, get one.  You can get one starting at around $15 and it’s worth every penny you will spend on it.  I now haul mine with me everywhere.  It’s a little silly, but I’ve learned what a valuable tool it is and I don’t want to be caught without it. 
In other news, my friend Donna is writing a series on turning your blog into a business and asked for my thoughts on writing for magazines and websites.  If you’re interested in what we had to say on the subject, you should read her post on Submitting work for websites and magazines


  1. cityfarmer

    I'm on it … heading over to Donna's, even though I do some magazine writing … want to learn more

  2. martinealison

    Je vous souhaite une excellente journée…
    Vous avez raison pour le trépied, je ne veux jamais l'utiliser et finalement c'est une erreur.
    Gros bisous

  3. Bonnie

    Thank you for encouraging the use of a tripod. I need to try it because I get so many blurry pics. I have one but it is cheap and I guess I thought I needed a nicer one.

  4. Rusty Pallet

    I hate when you think you can take a picture and be as steady as a tripod! Never turns out that way….but if a tripod is around $15, sounds worth it to me. Thanks for the reminder that people are not still :). Keep doin what you're doin lady, I am such a big fan of your blog!

  5. The Paupers Castle

    I enjoyed reading your post on magazine shoots. Thanks for sharing

  6. Christine

    Note to self…get a tripod…thanks!!

  7. Amy @MaisonDecor

    Yeah i have been reading every word Donna writes…and I pay attention to this type of post from you too!! I love learning from others who have figured it out and it is great.

  8. Grace @ Sense and Simplicity

    I do the holding my breath nonsense. I so need to get a tripod. Is there anything to look for in a tripod and do you need a mini tabletop one and a bigger one stand alone one or will one tripod do???

  9. Lori @ Katies Rose Cottage Designs

    My son in law is a photographer and doesn't ever take pix without his tripod ~ I really need to get one since I do take alot of indoor pictures!
    Thank you for the nudge I need!


  10. Artsy VaVa

    Thanks for the tips! I don't think even a tripod will make my pictures turn out as well as yours. I'll keep trying though!

  11. The Little Red Shop

    Oooh…I bought one at GW sometime last year. I've been meaning to start experimenting with it. I'm thinking maybe it's time to actually read the instruction manual to my camera, too.

    : )

    Julie M.

  12. MyChampagneTaste

    you are totaly so right :))) 3 days ago my tripod arrived and what a difference!!! I always hear about how sharp the images would be and stuf like that but you will not believe it until you try it now I AM A BELIEVER 🙂

    but still I can;t achieve the professional photos that you got for my blog…if you have time please check out my blog because I really need to know what Im doing wrong with the photos

    Rasha @ mychampagnetaste

  13. Lori E

    I was using my son's small tripod but because I am only 5 feet tall I would then have to get on a stool to take pictures. Not always practical but then again my pictures are not very good so I should drag around the stool and the tripod.

  14. Charity

    Some times it's the simple things… like a reminder to use a tripod. You struck a chord in me tonight, and if they are only $15 why not?! By the way, I adore the picture with the pear. Simply sweet!

  15. Carolyn@SweetChaos

    Thanks for the nudge… I definitely need a tripod! Would save all the time I spend trying to edit fuzzy pictures 🙂 Do you always turn the flash off ??

  16. Cath

    The investment in a tripod is priceless. We also use ours for our video camera. It is an arm saver when trying to video wee ones at pee wee soccer too.

  17. Robyn Rasmussen

    Oh I like!!! You take beautiful pics and I realize now that I just HAVE to dig out my tripod and put it to good use- seriously how hard can that be. 🙂 Beautiful blog you have!
    -Robyn from

  18. Rosemary@villabarnes

    I needed the push. It will save me lots of time editing. Already read the post over at Donna's blog. I love you both!

  19. Anne Lorys - Fiona and Twig

    Although it isn't practical for my in-the-field shoots, a tripod is essential when I'm shooting interiors. An essential purchase, to be sure!

  20. vignette design

    I have such a nice tripod. Do I use it? No! I'm so lazy. You have convinced me to get off my duff and us it! I love your photos.

  21. Your Southern Peach

    I have been thinking about getting a tripod for my food photography and I think you just convinced me that I need it sooner than later.

    Thanks for the advice and I really like your blog!



  22. Laura

    Too funny… Donna and I were just e-mailing about this same subject this afternoon. She was super kind enough to respond to some of my questions and she said the exact same thing, "Get a tripod." Thanks for showing the difference that it makes. Its a huge one!

  23. Decorating Ideas

    Thanks for the advice on the tripod, I never really thought it would make that much difference! I need to dust mine off!

  24. Anita @ GoingALittleCoastal

    I'm always so much happier with my shots when I use my tripod. Also, your white balance is much better in the second shot of your dining room 🙂

  25. Maya @ Completely Coastal

    I'm one of those people who try everything…, but using the tripod! Great reminder! I have two tripods in the closet. Go figure. And I never use flash either.

  26. Vintage Home

    Great tips…my daughter just bought a tripod so I am very lucky!
    You and Donna make a great team!

  27. Team Jenkins

    thx for the tip – i have one but i'm in the 'too lazy to get it out' group. i'm going to do better!! 🙂

  28. Daryl at Vermont Cottage

    What fabulous advice! Thank you!!

  29. Alice

    I hardly ever use a tripod mostly because I don't want to drag it out, set it up, and put it back away. Another tip I've heard is to use a remote trigger, because even the slightest movement of pushing on the trigger can make it blurry.

  30. Tres French Hens

    Thanks for the tripod reminder. I get lazy and think I can get a good pic without.

    And I completely understand not being inspired to post when you feel you've got nothing exciting to post about!

    Have a blessed day!

  31. Chi-Chi Studio Designs

    I have a tripod that I have yet to use…I guess I'll have to start! Although, I'm not sure it'll make a difference with my shoebox apartment backgrounds!

  32. Megan @ Restoring the Roost

    Great advice- thank you!! What my problem is sometimes is not having enough natural light on the interior of my house even though I have TONS of windows they aren't always in the right spots to highlight want I want. In this case would you recommend using additional artificial/professional lighting?

  33. Dear Lillie

    Okay looking at the comparison shot of your dining room makes it official – I am getting a tripod!

  34. Harbormom

    Just wanted to say contragulations – Target has now begun to market upholstered furniture using what appear to be antique grain sacks! You have created a trend!

  35. Danielle@VintageDanielle

    I didn't know how affordable a tripod was, so that's great to know. You take some wonderful photos. And yes, I'm heading over to Donna's! HaHa

  36. Jacqueline

    I have terrible lighting, as for having to many trees around the house. Your pictures look amazing, do you use Photoshop for editing?

  37. Jessica @ Nuchey's Mommy

    Thanks for sharing! Ironically, I left Donna a comment asking about interior pictures on her post this morning. Your pictures always look good. I downloaded the latest PS elements 10 trial last night and used your last post as guide to check it out. Your post was helpful 🙂

  38. Marcia

    Just a note to say "thanks" for writing your blog and inspirationally sharing your design and decor knowledge. Your style is just what I would want in a cottage of my very own.

  39. Vicki @ CurlyWillow

    Thanks for the photo insight. I got a bigger kick at how much the room changed. I think everything is different except the curtains and the chandy. How awesome! Both rooms are fantastic 🙂

  40. Lisa @ The Cooking Bride

    I could not agree with you more. I used to try to take food photos free hand. Then I invested in a good tripod and now I don't think I could function without it.

  41. Shannon

    Lol! Too funny…I just bought a tripod last night! Not only will pictures be clearer, but I have a funny feeling my camera may stay a little cleaner during projects!

  42. sarah - dodeline design

    Wow, it does make a big difference! I need to get better about doing this too!

  43. Erin @ His and Hers

    I've been thinking about getting a tripod…you've convinced me. 🙂 Your dining room is gorgeous!

  44. Sheets on the line, love in my heart.

    honey you are my blog mentor queen!! i love the pictures and the style!! i am new at this but i am loving all the great creativity i am seeing!! awesome girl!!

  45. the brown shed

    I didn't read through all the comments, so I hope I am not duplicating… I am wondering if you recommend a particular tripod? Or is a tripod a tripod?

    Thanks a bunch!

  46. Deborah

    Good to know!
    Lovely photo of the pear!

    Deborah xo

  47. Beth

    I have a decent tripod, but my hubby just moans when he sees me bringing it along. So then, I either just put it back or just leave it in the van instead of using it. I have to use it almost all the time at home. I would have to figure out how I can adjust the shutter speed on my semi-manual camera. It's not a full DSLR or even close to one for that matter. LOL!

  48. KimW

    If Charlene can be Mini Mustard Seed, shouldn’t I be Mama Mustard Seed?? What do you think?
    MMS’s Proud Mom

  49. Kristel

    Thanks for showing the before and after, I honestly did not think I could ever shoot in certain rooms in my house, because they are so dark, and come out very blurred. I will have to go out and invest in a tripod and try it out.

  50. Good Time Charlie

    I thought I was the only one who had the tricks to avoid using a tripod! Sadly, it has become a permanent part of my living room, and I still don't always use it! I think I am always in way too much of a hurry, not good! Thanks for the good info. -K

  51. upChic boutique

    Thanks for the photo is my biggest obstacle right now..somehow you always are able to give just the right advise when I need it the most. Are you sure you are not psychic?

  52. Paula

    Love your blog, and your photography!

    I just wanted to mention that I bought a brand name, but low-priced tri-pod for about $20.00. After a bit of use, the head didn't seem quite tight enough (which should have been my first clue). Fortunately, I had a good hold on my Canon Rebel xsi when the head broke off the tri-pod. I replaced it with a sturdier, little better quality tri-pod.

    Thanks for the photography tips and very enjoyable blog.

  53. Kim @ Cheap Chic Home

    I bought one quite awhile back and then found out we had two in the garage that were like new from old video cameras. I took the new one back and have been using an "old" one quite faithfully. Once in awhile when I snap a couple of photos w/o it, I always regret it!

  54. Beth

    My 2 sisters and I have recently started a new business repurposing furniture, making pillows, etc…We are in GA and we have started selling at Scott Antique Market. We read your blog all the time, you have been so helpful in every way! We just want to Thank You for all your great info! God Bless You!


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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