Do you want light, bright & airy photos? Have you been drooling over perfectly curated Instagram feeds? Wondering how you can have a photo feed that others envy? Think beautiful portraits with sharp focus and delicate blurred bokeh backgrounds.
Here’s the good news: it’s possible. And you don’t need any fancy equipment. That’s right. You don’t need an expensive DSLR to get quality photos that will set your Blog, Instagram, Facebook, or Website apart. You don’t even need pricey editing software like Photoshop or Lightroom. You can achieve the images you’ve been dreaming of all with your Smart Phone.
Here are 5 Tips For Taking Better Photos with your Phone
Take Better Photos Tip #1 – Use Natural Light
In my High School Photography Class, we made pinhole cameras using nothing more than cardboard, tape, and light sensitive paper. It involved no technical gadgets, no electric or mechanical functions. One trip to the darkroom and a dip in developer later, and I was holding a real 5×7 printed image in my hands.
The lesson learned was that photography is all about light. In order to take great quality photos, you need good lighting. And the best light is natural light, which includes the full range of the color spectrum. Artificial light, on the other hand, is made to illuminate darkness. And it does have a place in photography –but it’s a whole ‘nother ball game. Leave it to the professionals.
Take Better Photos Tip #2 – Use Diffused Light
Believe it or not, there is a best time of day to take photos, especially when shooting outdoors. I’ll bet you’ve heard of Golden Hour, the time of day when the sun is low in the sky. Golden Hour occurs both at sunrise and sunset, and used well, it makes for some very ethereal shots.
But guess what? Contrary to popular belief, Golden Hour is not the ideal time of day for a photoshoot.
Instead, aim to shoot your photos a couple hours after sunrise or a couple hours before sunset. The sun is higher in the sky and the light is more diffused. This means the lighting is more evenly dispersed as opposed to midday when the sunlight directly overhead is too harsh (think blinding brightness and unflattering shadows on your subject). If you do have to shoot in the middle of the day, opt for a shady spot with even light.
Take Better Photos Tip #3 – Choose Solid, Neutral Backgrounds
Imagine you’re faced with the impossible task of taking your best friend’s photo at your town’s dump. Would you pose her in front of A) the giant trash heap or B) the blue garbage truck? If you chose neither, I don’t blame you!
But for the sake of a better photo, I hope you choose Option B: the blue garbage truck.
Imagine if your friend had to compete with the pile of junk behind her. As beautiful as she is, you might lose her amidst the rainbow of rotting garbage. That background is too busy. Avoid busy backgrounds. In contrast, your friend will pop against the solid blue background of the garbage truck because there isn’t anything to compete with.
Take Better Photos Tip #4 – Always shoot so the horizon line is level
Leave the angles for Myspace. A tilted camera does not an interesting photo make. If you think looking down on your subject is more flattering, think again.
We all want to look our best in photos, and yes–angling the camera down does makes us look somewhat thinner. But it also makes us look like we have a deformed alien head. It’s forced, it’s unnatural, and it’s so obvious what we’re trying to do.
Always hold the camera (or phone) level. Have your subject turn their head slightly to the left or right and tilt their chin down just a tad. It will look much more natural and produce a more slimming effect than facing the camera head on. And understanding how to photograph people’s “best sides” without tilting the camera will have them clamoring to have their photo taken by you.
Take Better Photos Tip #5 – Master Photo Editing Apps
Photoshop is an awesome tool, but I find it more useful for creating graphics than for editing photos. It’s a powerful software, but it’s bulky. It requires a lot of effort to upload photos, process and save them, organize them, etc.
Lucky for us, we live in the age of pocket smartphone computers. And the apps keep getting better. Have you used the VSCO App lately? It’s free (with paid upgrades), and I’d argue that VSCO paired with Facetune can do all you’d ever want to do to a photo in Photoshop anyway.
Get good at adjusting Brightness and Contrast. Up the Clarity a bit. Color correct a blue-toned photo by upping the Warmth. Desaturate the colors and bring out the orange hues for a vintage vibe. If you want to get even more fancy with it, adding grain to photos is trending. And try cropping your photo according to the Rule of Thirds to make the composition more interesting.
All of this can be done in seconds on your iPhone or Android. Play around with these effects until it’s second nature, then add a pre-made filter to really amp things up. In VSCO, you can copy and paste edits onto photos, resulting in consistent results every time.
Anyone with a standard smartphone is capable of shooting incredible images. As with most things, consistency is key in developing your skill-set. But by following these simple tips, your iPhone photos will start to improve immediately!
Tell me. What other apps do you love for editing photos besides VSCO?
Want more blogging tips? Read my Best Tips for Choosing a Blog Topic