Absolutely anyone can take great photographs (Yes, seriously! Anyone!). You may have heard the quote "the best camera is the one that's with you". I always hear people say “well I’m not a photographer” when it comes to taking photos. You don’t have to be one to take great photos from your phone. All it takes is a little extra attention and intention! Here are five tips to help you take better photos instantly!
ONE | SHOOT FROM THE HIP
When taking someone’s photo, try holding the photo from waist height instead of holding the phone in front of your face or above your head. Shooting someone from a high angle makes them look shorter and shooting them from lower makes them look taller (which is never a bad thing when you’re a shorty like me) but it also emphasizes whatever is closest to the camera. Shooting from waist height is the most flattering for your subject.
Shot from below
This photo was shot with the phone directly in front of me so no part of Maeve's body will appear distorted from camera placement.
Shot from above
See how this photo looks similar to the first but you lose a lot of Maeve's neck and you see a lot more of the bushes in the background.
Shot from waist level
You will notice how her legs are closest to the camera so her bottom half looks super long but her upper half appears tiny because it is farther away from the camera.
TWO | STEP INTO THE LIGHT
Watch where the light falls on your subject. Overcast or shaded light is best. Direct sunlight can create harsh shadows on someone’s face. If it’s nighttime or you’re in a dark place, don’t be afraid to ask your friend to shine some light on the situation aka have them turn on the flashlight on their phone to help brighten up your subject. The flash on the camera can be very harsh so having someone else use their flashlight can make all the difference.
Shot in direct sunlight
Shooting in direct sunlight can cause harsh shadows under eyes, nose, and chin. It also will make your subject squint.
Shooting backlit can give you a soft, dreamy picture but when done on a smartphone can give you a dark subject with a properly exposed background.
Shot in shaded light
Shaded or overcast light will give a nice even wash of light over your subject with minimal shadows.
THREE | BACK UP FROM THE PLATE
When it comes to food photos, I notice a habit of people shooting the plate way too closely. Think about it. Most of the time you don’t have your face inches away from the plate, so why have your camera that close? If you notice most food photography isn't taken very close to the food so get some space between your phone and the plate and you’ll immediately see a difference. Nothing on this table changed. The only difference is I’m about a foot away from the plate instead of inches. This is tip can be used for photographing anything from food to products to people. Watch your background and shoot from varying distances to see what looks best!
Shot from the side
The food is in the shadows plus you can see people in the background.
Shot from above
Shooting from above makes a much more visibly pleasing image.
FOUR | LOOK FOR THE HORIZON
Keep a lookout for the horizon lines in your photos. A photo will look 100 times better when it is straightened out. This example is the exact same photo. The one with the straightened horizon line looks so much better than the first. This can be fixed in the editing settings in Instagram or whatever editing app you are using. Also, edit the perspective to straighten out the lines when photographing architecture.
It's just not good.
Shot straight from camera
Looks better than first photo but it could be a bit better.
I fixed the perspecitve which you can do in the majoirty of photo editing apps so the lines on the X and Y axis are straight.
FIVE | COMPOSITION IS KEY
When taking photos of anything from people to objects, get in there and place the subjects where you like. Watch your background and whatever else is creeping into your frame. Bring items closer together for a more cohesive photo. Also, use the rule of thirds to create visual interest in the shot. Making flatlays are really fun so definitely play around with it!
Since the phone and the background are both black, it makes the left side of the photo pretty dark.
Just a quick rearrangement of the items brightened up the look of this flatlay.
All of these tips take seconds to apply to your photo taking. Keep them in mind when you're ready to take a photo and you will see your photos improve instantly! Special thanks to Maeve Stier for letting me take good and bad photos of her.