Welcome mroskamp to the Camera Labs forum. Don't worry, we are kind to everyone* on this board (*except spammers or very annoying people
In my opinion, your use of flash in the above pictures causes most of the rawness of the photograph. It's very direct lighting, the kind that anyone who picks up a camera could (and does) use. There's two options, both of which may require an expansion of your camera set-up:
- shoot with indirect flash (e.g. bounce of the ceiling or a wall). I never use flash, as I dislike the look of it, as well as the disturbance it causes, but this is an option. Of course, if thus far you've been using the little flash that's built into your camera, this isn't possible.
- shoot without flash. This will require shooting with available light, which means you'll have to open up your aperture all the way (and perhaps even get a new lens that is better in low light), bump up your ISO, and learn to handhold your camera at slower shutter speeds.
If you do decide to use flash, I believe most cameras have a feature that allows you to retain more detail in the background. In your photo, the background is plain black, and thus the photo has no depth whatsoever. If you synchronize the flash with the second shutter curtain, and use a slower shutter speed, you might retain some more detail. As I never use flash, I can't tell you how to set it up, hopefully other members can do that.