15 iPhone Photo and Instagram Tips

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Instagram has evolved into a place for gorgeous, styled, quality photos. Even as a blogger, sometimes it’s intimidating to post an image that isn’t shot in a way that feels curated to your library. I know that sounds silly, but my place for “real” or messy behind-the-scenes has always been Snapchat or Stories. Instagram, on the other hand, provides top-notch inspiration and magazine quality archives, which I’m cool with. Here are a few tips if you’re trying to up your Insta game (or just take better photos from your iPhone). The following images have been screen grabbed from my personal Instagram as examples… all taken with my iPhone.

For me, especially since moving to Utah, I find it difficult to lug around my big DSLR camera. If we’re setting out for a hike, day on the slopes, or outdoor adventure, the last thing I want is added weight and having to be cautious all day. Therefore, I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out the science behind gorgeous iPhone images. Here are 15 tips you might want to consider the next time you pull out your phone for a quick pic.

1 // Shoot with your iPhone camera. I never shoot a photo from the Instagram app, but I do edit within the platform… more on that below. The key point? Use your phone’s camera- not your favorite app.

2 // Consider composition. I practice the rule of thirds, and I also try to make sure I have a good mix of wide shots, medium shots, as well as close ups in my Insta library for added variety. Note how I weighted the content at the bottom of the image, rather than centering it in the image below? This makes it way more interesting.

3 // Shoot in natural light. If shooting indoors, turn off all lights (overhead, lamps, etc). Notice the overhead light in the mirror reflection? It’s off, and this image is still plenty bright. In addition to the lighting, the color balance is even and soft.

4 // Simple is better. Instagram is usually a very noisy place when it comes to photos and content. Sometimes minimal images are better because they give the viewer’s eye a place to rest. Negative space is a beautiful thing!

5 // If you’re shooting people, use the portrait camera setting. It’s made for shooting portraiture and creates a shallow depth of field. It’s also nice to get on your subject’s level. If you’re shooting a baby or a dog, you might have to get on the floor to capture the shot from their perspective.

6 // Don’t forget to adjust alignment. If you’re shooting a symmetrical photo, use the adjustment tool and make sure your lines are on a grid. My pet peeve is unaligned images, but then again- I’m a person who craves balance.

7 // Take advantage of golden hour. If you’re shooting outside, the best time to shoot is in the early morning or as the sun is setting. Noon is the worst time, as you’ll capture harsh lighting.

8 // Use the brightness, contrast, and fade editing tools. These are the three most-used tools in my bag of tricks. I pretty much use these for every single iPhone image I take. Contrary to the above point, the below shot was captured at the worst time of day(noon), and it was really bright and blown out. I lowered the brightness, added a little contrast to bring back some detail, and used the fade tool to make it a bit less saturated. What started as a harsh, high contrast image, turned into a calming, monochromatic beach scene.

9 // Keep filters to a minimum. Realistic images are always best… I hate photos that have a heavy filtered, fake look. Here’s a bad example of when I took it a little too far (it happens to the best of us). The composition is fine, but the filter I selected is not working at all with the low lit candles- it makes the image look non-realistic, grainy, and harsh. We all have our moments… live and learn, right?!

10 // Consider scale. I enjoy playing with scale- especially in outdoor or landscape images. Typically, if I can’t find a person in a natural environment, I’ll make my husband stand in for photos, so you can see just how small he is compared to a vast landscape. Contrary to what it looks like, I captured the little boy below gazing into a nook in an ice castle… not peeing! It does make for a funny image- that’s well composed, I might add.

11 // Don’t be afraid to play around and shoot a lot of images. You can always delete the bad ones later- but the key is capturing multiples, then narrowing down the best. In the photo below, I was experimenting with motion and blurring… insert dance party here.

12 // Get creative. Sometimes you have to get weird and shoot from strange angles or think outside the box to capture a unique image. The best images come from experimentation! Consider silhouettes, color, reflection, texture, and overall content. The image below was the result of my fascination with the depth and color of this fern. I like the overall image because it shows movement, has a monochromatic color palette, and loads of interesting texture. The fern wasn’t in an extraordinary setting, it was just a fern in regular landscaping, but once I got closer, it made a great image.

13 // If you’re shooting content from above (tablescapes, moodboards, or desk shots), find an interesting textural, yet neutral background. Most bloggers have a library of large tile or stone pieces they can switch in and out for curated photos like these. It adds variety and is an inexpensive way to enhance your photos.

14 // Practice makes perfect. One of my older interior design friends told me her goal was to find beauty every single day. She’s in her 50′s and admits to not being super tech savvy, but she posts to Instagram every day. It’s amazing to see her growth, improvement, and the mundane things she finds beautiful! She really inspired me to seek beauty in the ordinary. Even if you’re in a setting that isn’t “Instagram Worthy” find a way to compose an extraordinary image.

15 // Lastly, connect with people! In my opinion, the best part of Instagram is making friends, complimenting each other, and sharing common interests. I’ve made so many connections (near and far) who have transitioned from social media friends to “real life” friends. That’s actually the thing I love most about the internet and social media.
Overall, I really enjoy taking photos with my iPhone because it’s hassle free and easy because you always have it on you. Technology has come a long way, so make the most of it! What is your favorite photo taking platforms?

For more life hacks: 5 (Affordable) Ways to Make Your home Look Expensive | Insights from Sheri Adelman

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About The Author

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Sarah Gibson
Sarah Gibson is a full-time designer located in the Midwest. With an emphasis on both graphic and interior design, her projects are varied. Sarah's areas of expertise range from rebranding, website & blog design, print and social media marketing, to creative direction, such as styling and photoshoots. As an interior designer, Sarah also specializes in full-service interior design, custom projects, styling, and renovations. Aside from her day job, she spends evenings and weekends creating content for her lifestyle blog, Room for Tuesday, which features content in design, interiors, travel, fashion, and creative inspiration. She enjoys balancing both trendy and eclectic pieces with classic elements, for a curated aesthetic.