How to Take Amazing Photos with Your Phone
Last week, we shared a post with you on how to effectively market your products online. One of the most important aspects of social media promotion is having great visuals to go along with the content you’re sharing. But sometimes getting that content can be tricky if you’re not a natural-born photographer or if you don’t have the cash to shell out on royalty-free images (let’s be real, who wouldn’t prefer to spend that money on a coffee?).
So, without further ado, here are some tips to become a great photographer with nothing but your phone:
- Keep Your Lens Clean: This seems like an easy step but it often goes overlooked. Phones get jammed into our pockets and purses, get fumbled in our hands and come into contact with all sorts of less-than-sterile surfaces over the course of a single day alone. Who hasn’t swiped through their phone too soon after eating a pile of golden french fries and saw the tell-tale smear of grease from fingers that weren’t quite clean? So, before you get down to taking that perfect picture, grab a microfibre cloth (or the corner of your t-shirt if it’s clean; be warned that regular cloths can scratch a camera lens) and give your lens a quick wipe. Pro tip: glasses wearers, clean your glasses as well or photos can still look blurry for no explainable reason.
- Compose Your Photos: Good photography involves more than just pointing the camera at something and snapping that picture. The best photos use the rules of composition to make them look more appealing. In general, there are dozens of rules that photographers consider (you don’t need to incorporate every single one but consider using one or two). Here’s another blog where we dive more in depth with some of the rules of composition but for now, we’ll explain the simplest and arguably most popular: the rule of thirds. Simply put, imagine a tic-tac-toe board has been placed over your camera screen (a lot of cameras have the option of physically turning a grid on, so you don’t even have to imagine). The rule of thirds states that when the main focus or subject of your photo is placed directly on one of those lines or, better yet, where two of the lines intersect, that the photo becomes significantly more interesting; offsetting the subject using the rule-of-thirds grid incorporates more depth and motion and brings your photos to life.
- Use Lighting to Your Advantage: Using lighting effectively when taking a photo is a must and, for those without an artist’s eye, is often also the trickiest element to wield. When taking that amazing photo, consider the colour of the light (is it yellow incandescent or white fluorescent or natural lighting from the sky?), the direction the light is coming from and how harsh the source of light is. In general, natural, diffused lighting is one of the best sources because it requires very little manipulation from the photographer. Where possible, use the light from a cloudy day or light diffused through a window to illuminate your subject. We’ll admit that it’s often difficult to choose and control your light source though, so in cases where your options are limited, do your best to ensure that the source of light is behind you while it shines on your subject. And, regardless of the source of light you have available and which direction it is coming from, have fun experimenting with what will make your photo look best. One last lighting tip: try to avoid using flash because it tends to overexpose photos or cause other unwanted effects.
- Don’t Zoom: Despite the technological marvels seen in the last couple of decades, digital zoom technology has not matched the quick progression of other tech. On smartphones especially, zooming in on a picture merely crops the image and forces a loss in quality. Instead of sacrificing that quality for a photo that gets to the heart of your subject, opt to move your feet instead. Get up close to what you’re photographing and go to town with that shutter button, working with different angles and interesting compositions.
- Edit: Now, when we say edit, we don’t mean you have to have professional Photoshop chops, especially when you’re working from your phone. Download a couple of photo editing apps and experiment with what they offer. Try some filters (but don’t over-filter), crop your photo a couple different ways and just have fun with your creation.
- Size: The last thing of note to make your photos really pop on social media is that they should be sized correctly based on the platform you are posting them to. Each social media platform has different guidelines for how photos should be sized to look best in the newsfeeds they’ll be viewed on. While this means you will have to make multiple versions of each photo (if you are posting to more than one platform) it also means that audiences are seeing the best version possible. For Facebook, format photos as 1024x535 pixels. Twitter recommends that photos be 940x512 pixels and on Instagram, use photos that are 1080x1080 pixels. You can also try the Landscape tool from Sprout Social as a way to automatically resize your photos although you have less freedom with how they turn out that way.
While we can’t guarantee that these tips will make you an award-winning photographer overnight, we hope that they’ll help you elevate your photos into elegant, well-composed images that grab the attention of all who see them.
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