Much can be done with a simple point and shoot camera. SLR users choose between two creative settings, aperture and shutter speed, to control depth of field (AKA background blur) and the blur or freezing of motion. Point and shoot cameras give you some control over your depth of field and also allow you to freeze most motion with the standard modes available on all cameras. Blurring motion on purpose can be done as well, but we'll get to that last. I want to really focus on the ease of the first three -those alone will give you the control you need to take most photos.
Portrait Mode (the icon looks like a woman's head):
This is how you blur the background.
-The closer you are to your subject, the more background blur you'll get.
-The farther away your background is, the more background blur you'll get.
Landscape Mode (the icon looks like mountains):
This is how you keep everything in the photo sharp (avoid background blur).
-Focus a third of the way into the distance of the photo to get everything from close to far in focus (mostly for landscape shots like flowers in the foreground, mountains in the background).
Sports Mode (icon looks like a person running):
This is how you freeze motion.
-In low light, freezing motion may not be possible. Changing to "P" mode may get you better results.
P Mode (icon is the letter "P"):
P Mode usually allows you to take control over your ISO. Some cameras may let you control ISO even in the various auto modes, either way should work.
-ISO controls how fast your camera records light to make a photo. 100 is slower than 800.
-Higher ISO's (like 800) mean your camera makes more mistakes. Those mistakes show up in your photos as "noise" or that grainy, static-like appearance you've probably seen before (usually when viewing a photo at 100%).
-Generally ISO is set as follows:
-ISO 100: Bright sun
-ISO 200: Overcast, but bright (you can still see shadows on the ground)
-ISO 400: Overcast with no shadows or bright indoor lighting
-ISO 800: Average indoor lighting
-To blur motion, choose an ISO lower than the lighting conditions you are in.
-To freeze motion, choose an ISO higher than the lighting conditions you are in.