Summer is officially here. Sunsets, beach time, picnics, BBQs, family vacations – all the things that make the season so memorable AND super photogenic. We’re here to give you our top professional photography tips for how to take those Insta-worthy photos using ONLY YOUR PHONE! Whether you’re team Apple or Android, these little tricks will let you use your phone’s camera to the best of it’s abilities, leaving you with some great photos to share with family and friends or even hang in your home!
NOTE: ALL of the photos below were taken on an iPhone and edited with Snapseed.
You may have heard professional photographers throw around terms like “golden hour,” or ask you to show up to your session at 5:30 am. There’s a good reason for it. Early morning and late evening is the best time to snap those warm, magical shots that will leave you looking like the professional photographer.
You may not have control over the time of day, which means you will often be working in less than ideal situations. Using this to your advantage can create dramatic and artistic images. When you expose for the highlights, or the brightest area of the image, the shadows will become dark and deep. This is great for landscapes and also for creating interesting silhouettes with people. To expose for the highlights, simple tap on the lightest part of the screen so your camera can auto adjust its settings to expose for the brightest area of the image. Don’t worry if the shadows look too dark initially. It’s always easier to lighten up shadows versus bringing down highlights while editing.
As advanced as smartphones are, their cameras still cannot handle backlighting very well. Often, this means choosing between having your subject (your family) or your background (the gorgeous sunset sky). Your phone will want to fix this problem by adding the flash, but this often creates a disjointed look that simply isn’t flattering. Our simple solution is to find an external light source instead. The flashlight from a friend’s phone or even an outdoor lantern can be used to brighten up your subject and help you get everything you want to capture exposed perfectly.
This brings us to our next tip, EDITING. If you’re completely fine throwing up that photo online right after taking it, kudos to you. However, you’ll be surprised how much tiny adjustments can enhance your photo. We suggest downloading a good editing app such as Snapseed or Adobe Lightroom for mobile. These apps will let you do far more than your in-camera editing app and will take your photos up a notch.
We recommend Camera Plus for this one. Different from the editing app, camera apps are apps that can utilize your phone camera’s software to the fullest of it’s abilities. With Camera Plus, you can lock focus on moving subjects, gain more control over exposure before your shot, and even shoot in macro mode for those close ups.
One of our favorite consumer print labs is Artifact Uprising. Make sure to use some summer vacation downtime or a rainy day to organize your photos and make printing and sharing easier on yourself.