Good job! The amount of information available can be confusing. The next few paragraphs detail some practical tips that will get you started in the exciting world of photography.
Physically move closer to the subject in order to get a better picture. Getting up close gives you a better conceptual focus, and blots out background distractions. It also highlights your subject's facial expressions, which are important to a great portrait. Little details are often missed when your subject is too far away.
Pack your equipment for a trip carefully. Bring along some cleaning accessories, extra batteries, and any lenses you may need. You should avoid taking any equipment you will not use, and consider how each item you bring will be useful to your goals.
When taking pictures, avoid overcast skies. A gray sky is going to make your pictures look washed-out. However, if you are shooting in black and white, an overcast sky can make a beautiful photo. If the sky outside is a beautiful blue, include it in your photos but watch the light.
You can move from area to area around the shot so you are able to find a more interesting shot. Try interesting angles such as shooting from above, underneath, moving from side to side of the subject, or holding the camera at waist level.
Pre-focus your camera and move to where your subject isn't dead center in the frame. Viewing one photo after another where the subject is perfectly centered in the shot can become boring in a hurry. An off-centered shot is likely to appear more interesting in the eyes of the viewer.
Take this tip into consideration! Learn the basics about different types of shutter speeds. On your camera, you should find several settings including the S, M, A, and P settings. "P" indicates the program setting. This automatic setting sets your aperture and shutter speed automatically. When you don't know what you'll be taking pictures of, it's best to use this mode.
While taking indoor photos under fluorescent lighting, make sure the camera has the appropriate white balance settings. If you don't compensate for the missing red tones, photographs taken under fluorescent lighting will end up with a cooler tone caused by the bluish-green light.
Look for the right types of things to take pictures of. Without a good subject, even the best equipment and most developed skills will fail to produce striking photograph. Select objects you are inspired by, or have someone pose for you.
There isn't a secret to being an excellent photographer. The trick is practice, and constantly looking to gain experience and knowledge. It's not necessary that you develop or keep every shot yourself, particularly with digital. You can take lots and lots of pictures and view your results easily without the expense of purchasing or developing film.
Photography is a great way to re-experience a special event. It takes homework and a bit of practice, but you will get better photographs.