I have said it once and I will say it again: Things are much simpler than they appear.
A great example of this is photography and photo editing.
I think a lot of us look at Instagram and other social media platforms, see the pictures influencers and big businesses post, and think to ourselves, “Wow, I could never take a picture that good. They must have super fancy equipment and professional editors.”
I used to think this too until I found out the truth: All you need is your smartphone, a little knowledge, and 5 minutes to create content that you will be proud of. Plus, it definitely helps with the increased technology and lenses of both iPhones and Androids over the years.
Now how do I know that this blog is going to make such a big impact on you? Because only a few years ago, I was where you are now.
So here are the things that made the biggest difference in my phone photography and editing skills and they will make a huge difference for you, too!
How to frame a better photo
Look at the last few pictures you took on your phone that feature a subject. Whether it is a person, animal, or object, look at where the subject is. My guess is that the vast majority of them are going to be in the center. Now taking photos with the subject in the center is fine for a lot of situations, but there is actually a better way to make your photos a little more interesting – using the rule of thirds.
What is the rule of thirds?
The rule of thirds is a method of framing your pictures to make the overall photo more interesting to the human eye. Simply put, you want to have your subject slightly off-center in order to use what surrounds the subject to tell more of a story.
It is called the rule of thirds because you are supposed to divide your frame into both vertical and horizontal thirds to create a grid. Your goal is to place your subject right where the lines intersect. Here is an example below.
As you can see, the subject of the photo, the stack of rocks is centered on one of the intersection points of the photo. This allows you to see more of the background and give the overall photo a different feel.
Here are a few other examples from some recent shoots we did.
After you do this for a while, this rule will just become second nature to you and you will do it without even thinking! If you want a reminder, most phones have the feature that overlays the grid right onto your camera. You can use that to make sure you are using the rule all the time!
How important is lighting for photographs?
I didn’t realize how important lighting was for the longest time. Lighting might be the biggest factor in whether a photo turns out well or not. When a photo doesn’t have proper lighting, it loses its sharpness, color, and makes the photo much harder to work with overall.
Many new smartphones feature a “night mode” to try and help users take better photos in low-light situations. While these features do work and you can get some great photos, you’re still not going to get the color or sharpness that you would have gotten with natural light otherwise.
As a rule of thumb, when you are taking pictures indoors, just remember that the more light, the better. If you are shooting in a room that is too dark, go near a window or turn on another lamp. If those aren’t options, you might need to go and purchase some additional lighting. Without light, you will never get the photos you want.
Outdoor photography is a little more complicated. While the sun can provide a lot of awesome light, you can have too much of a good thing. Taking photos in the middle of a bright sunny day can leave your photos looking washed out in the brightness of that light, overexposed, and therefore giving you the same problem. So, when taking pictures outside, try to go on overcast days or find some shade to help take away the harshness of the light. You can also try and take your photos during “golden hour” which are the times when the sun is just rising or setting. At this time, the light from the sun isn’t as harsh and can give your photos a nice warm glow.
Editing a photo in less than 5 minutes
Taking the time to edit your photos, even for just a few minutes, can make a WORLD of difference in how your photos turn out. Here, take a look at these photos I just took a few days ago. Look at the difference a little editing will do:
I edited these photos all using Adobe Lightroom, but you can get the same results by using any photo editor on your phone. We highly recommend SnapSeed which has TONS of features to help make your photos better.
How to use Instagram filters to edit pictures
Instagram filters or specific editing tools are other great options to help make your photos pop. You can choose a percentage of how much you want to use of that filter, or get very granular and edit specific things such as the brightness, contrast, and saturation, just to name a few. So how do you use them most effectively? Here are a couple of tips:
1) Pick one or two – When using Instagram filters, it is best practice to find one or two that best fit your brand and stick to them. This allows all your photos to have a similar feel and make everything look nice and smooth. You can change these over time if you want, just don’t do it very often!
2) Tone them down – Sometimes these filters can go too far and make your photos just look unrealistic and silly. Did you know you can actually tone down the filters? When you go to add a filter on Instagram, double-tap the filter you want to use. This will display a slider, or percentage as described above, that will let you make the filter less intense. This can allow you to give your photos the look you want without making them look over-edited.
Photos are such powerful tools in marketing. They allow you to tell your story and show people what your brand is all about. Taking and posting good quality photos is just one way that you can stand out from your competitors. Hopefully, you now see it is much easier than you think to create content that you can be proud of!