Like I said before, I'm not interested in the technical details of photography. I just want cute photos of my kids and pets. Here are some simple tricks I learned to get better photos with minimal effort. You don't need a fancy DSLR camera - all of these tips will work for a simple point and shoot or phone camera. It might help to look at your camera's manual or help file to figure out how to turn off/on some features.
All of the photos below were taken with my Canon S90 point and shoot, and they're some of my favorites.
1. Turn off the flash.
The flash on your camera is no good. The light is harsh and has a very short range. It washes people out and makes the colors all wonky. Figure out how to turn it off and use the surrounding light instead. There's usually a simple setting to permanently turn it off, or a special mode that's "no flash".
Things you can do instead - turn on overhead lights, open a door or window blinds to let more light in, have your subject facing an open window, move the restaurant table candle closer to your subject. Be creative but don't use that flash. Unless you're a professional, in which case you can disregard everything here because you know more than me.
2. Get up close and personal.
Unless you're trying to get a big-picture view of a scene, or capture something like an overhead sign, your subject will look better if you fill most of the picture with him/her/it. You might need to walk closer or move around a bit. Some of my favorite shots are closeups of my kids or pets' faces.
3. Look for dust bunnies.
Not just dust bunnies, but anything else in the frame that's distracting or ugly. I have tons of shots of my kids with a giant toy explosion on the floor near them. The cacophony of colored plastic gets in the way of what might have been great shots. Look for dirt, laundry, and oddly placed poles or signs behind your subjects. It's pretty hard to digitally remove things like that later, so try to get a better shot in the first place.
4. Go outside.
Even on a cloudy day, outside light is GREAT for photos. It's so much easier to get good shots if you move everyone outside. And actually, a cloudy day is better than bright sun, because you don't have all those distracting shadows.
5. Get on the grid.
Nearly all cameras have a grid overlay on the screen that allows you to follow the "rule of thirds" - you may have to dig around in your manual to see how to turn it on. It looks like a tic-tac-toe board. Many photographers have discussed the rule of thirds better than I ever could, but just know that interesting photos often come from lining up key subjects on the intersections of the lines in the grid, rather than putting them in the center of the frame.
I hope that helps! I think with a little effort and lots of practice, you can become a proficient photographer of your own life. Simply taking more pictures and noting what I liked was HUGE in advancing my skills.