by Mona Brooks, Photo Diva

Mona Brooks’ Top Ten Photography Tips:

1) The window light falling on the cabana boy on your bed in the morning works wonders if you look where the light falls on him. If you don’t like it, move around or have him move. This works for natural or artificial lighting.

2) The best light for landscapes and portraits is at sunrise to about 10 AM and two hours before sunset and during twilight. The light is orangish and gives even the palest skin tone a tan.

3) Don’t have a zoom on your camera? Sure you do, they are called feet. Take photos of the Eiffel Tower two blocks away, a block away, and right underneath.

4) Photos of hula dancers on stage never come out even when I use flash. What should I do?

Many point and shoot cameras (film or digital) have a built in flash that works best 5-15 ft from your subject. This is the number one reason why something behind the subject will be dark. So get close or bring the subject closer to the background.

Also don’t be afraid to use flash outdoors. Fill flash will help with shadows under subject’s eyes—especially photos taken at high noon.

5) Please don’t say cheese. Avoid the fake smile by snapping three photos, one with the subject looking at the camera, another one when they think you are finished, and one when they are laughing about the second photo.

6) Are you vertically challenged? Are your photos mostly horizontal? By turning your camera vertically, you can show off the 10 ft surfboard that you just learned how to use and the cute surfing instructor who graduated from Pepperdine standing next to you.

7) Some men like a woman who knows exactly what she want. Don’t be afraid to give direction and take charge. This is also the key to avoid fake smiles and confused looks by telling the subject where to look and what to do.

8) Moving the subject away from the center of the frame will improve your images. Your friends at home will believe you more if they see the bulls running behind you in Spain.

9) Be creative and take images out of the ordinary. Take an image while sipping wine and nibbling cheese on the grass of the English countryside, or from the table you’re dancing on in the pub later that night.

10) Hit two birds with one stone. If you see a someone you like, use the camera to start a conversation: “I just bought this camera and I need to test it out. May I take a photo of you?” After he says yes, you say: “Give me your email and I’ll send you a copy.”

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About the Author

Mona Brooks is an internationally acclaimed photographer whose work has appeared in publications around the globe. When she’s not covering fashion shows and red carpet events, she’s chasing her real passion—photographing visionary women of power. She counts high-ranking politicians, police and fire chiefs and artists among her most prized subjects and closest friends. For more information, please visit her website,, and her husband’s website,