I'm still pissed about not getting that picture of the seagull on the roof.
Needless to say, it came out blurry and all the elements of a great photo were there. The seagull sat there just long enough for me to take the pic. That's the worst part.
Now, this could have been prevented if I had followed my own simple tips for getting great looking photographs.
Keep the lens clean
I bring microfiber cloths with me everywhere I go. Make a rag part of your camera bag and never leave home without it. Don't forget some lens cleaner spray. Check your lens often, and if you see a smudge or speck of sand, don't ignore it because it will show up. Clean it regularly.
Have good glass
You need a good camera to get great shots. iPhones are great at short range but will not get you those jaw dropping images that can only be captured from far away. I recommend anything with a zoom lens. Try Canon's T7 Rebel with the zoom interchangeable lens. $400+ at Costco.
Snap like a sniper
This may sound stupid, but hold your breath when you take a picture. Bring your arms in to your sides and use yourself to stabalize. Just before you take the picture, hold your breath to make the shot steadier. Fire.
This is why my seagull image did not turn out. I was shaking like a leaf on a tree from too much caffeine and forgot to hold my breath.
Always be ready
The Internet is rife with stories of people who missed a great shot because they didn't have the camera or ran to the car but didn't make it in time. Don't let this happen to you. Eat, sleep and shower with your camera. Well, don't bathe with it, that's terrible advice. Bring the camera with you everywhere if you are serious about photography. Utilize the strap that comes with it and have a lightweight bag with extra batteries and SD cards. Don't be afraid to let people see you with your glass around your neck. Embrace your photographer-self.
Don't forget your SD card
A common rookie mistake is to show up on scene ready to do a photo shoot and after the first shot getting the "no card in camera" problem. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it can happen to anyone. Just make sure you get into the habit of transfering your images to a computer and clearing off the card and putting it back in the camera before you put it away. It will save you some headache. Also, it doesn't hurt to have extra SD cards in your camera bag.
Believe it or not, getting your subjects to smile and laugh is a surefire way to get great photos. This means you must be in a state of happiness or at least look like it. Have a Red Bull and command the scene like you are a teenager about to go to prom. Tell jokes and make these people laugh right before you take the shot.
These are some tips I just thought of off the top of my head. There are more and if you want to know them, I'll write up another post soon.