Avoid distracting backgrounds. How many times have you had a photo of someone that you really love, but there is a pile of dirty dishes on the sink behind them or a tree branch sticking right out of the side of their head? There are some things that cannot be avoided, but if you carefully consider the entire frame of your picture, you will have more successful results.
Use natural light. The flash and sunlight can both cause harsh shadows on your subjects, so try to shoot pictures near a sunny window. When it is cloudy outside, that is a perfect time to encourage your subject to come outside for a quick photo shoot. Without the harsh sun shining down on them, they will not be squinting or have bright spots on their faces.
Get close to your subject and focus on their face. Most people want to take full head to toe body shots. Avoid taking full body shots unless the clothes are your subject. For example the person is wearing a costume or uniform take a full body shot otherwise stay focused on the face. Make the person the centre of your photo by getting up close and personal.
Use the right lenses for taking photos of people. A high powered zoom will allow you to get up close features without getting into your subjects personal space. Avoid wide-angle lenses they will distort facial features. When kids are your subject get down to their level to take the photo. Focus the camera on the eyes of your subject.
Photograph your subjects while they are engaged in other activities. For example do you have a self proclaimed chef in the family? Photograph them making their world famous lasagne. Have a little one in the family that is learning to read? Photograph them with their nose tucked into a book.
Forgetting the camera - Alright, we have all done it. Either carry a disposable camera, or purchase one that can fit into your purse. Try to be sure you always have your camera handy.
Red Eye/Pet Eye - While sometimes, there is just no way to keep it from happening, red eye and pet eye can be controlled somewhat. If you are able, turn on lights or adjust your subjects. If you wind up with photos that are full of red eye, either use a red eye pen or a computer software program that can help remove it.
Sloppiness - How many times have you gotten a roll of film developed or now in the digital age, uploaded a photo to your computer, only to find out that you have a photograph with a head cut off, or something growing out of someones head. The best way to avoid this problem, is just to pay attention. Try to centre your subject until you become better.
Parallax - What's that? It is when you are too close to the subject you are photographing which is common with a point and shoot camera. Just back up and keep your hand as steady as possible.
Out of Focus - This usually occurs when the subject is moving. Or perhaps the photographer moved slightly. Try to stay as still as you can, and work with the focus until you get it right.
Back lighting - Usually this means shadows on the subject or a darkened face. Try moving into the shade and position the subject so the light is on them. You can also zoom in on the subject or use the fill flash to help combat back lighting problems.
Poor exposure - This isn't as much of a problem with modern technology what it is. Digital camera's don't usually have this problem. With a film camera, the reason for poor exposure is typically because the film is too slow for the type of photo you were aiming for or you did not use a flash.
Partial Obstruction - The finger over the lens or the lens strap in the picture! Or maybe just dirt or dust on your lens. Be sure and check your lens each time you are going to use your camera. Also carry a soft camera cloth with you to wipe the lens frequently while you are using it.
No picture at all - Haven't you ever had that happen? You know you took the photo, you might even remember setting it up. But there was no picture there. Sometimes this happens because the film was not loaded properly, the shutter wasn't pressed firmly, or maybe you forgot to load film if it was a film camera. With a digital camera it is more commonly the issue of not having the shutter released completely. Just be sure to press firmly.