Simple Tips for Taking Better Smart Phone Photos

I've said before that knowing your strengths is important and a photographer I am not. Add it to the list under Chef. Here is what I AM really good at, I am really good at knowing people who ARE good  at doing things. I consider this a very real talent and I'd appreciate you not bursting my bubble. My good friends say that I am the best connector. Whatcha need? I've got someone for ya! Got a problem? I can fix it!  

So, as I've been trying to up my photo game I went to one of the best - enter Melissa Hayes. She's one of those always put together, good at everything, pretty and nice girls. I know. It's hard not to hate her. She has been kind enough to put some tips together for upping your paparazzi game. 

Here's the deal, we're sharing the goods so return the favor and YOU show us what you've got on Instagram and don't forget to hashtag #SugarFreeEarCandy and #MelissaHayesPhotography.

Without further ado:

Simple Tips for Taking Better Smart Phone Photos 

I love taking photos. Photos of family, friends, our dog Coco (even though she turns her head every.single.time. I get out my iPhone), landscapes, dinner plates, and everything in between. And while I do own a couple fancy DSLR cameras for my photography business (Melissa Hayes Photography), I always have my iPhone on me, so I use it to capture the majority of my daily life and adventures. I’d imagine most of you do the same with your smart phones, so I wanted to pass along some tips for making the most of them!

1. Think outside the box.

It’s easy to just point and shoot, but you’re going to end up with the same old boring photos every time. Instead, look for a different vantage point -- get down low on the ground or shoot from above. Don’t just put your subject in the middle of the frame -- photograph them off-center, super close-up or really pulled back for variation in composition. And when you’re out and about, don’t just take the boring “smile for the camera” shots. Capture laughter and silly faces. Capture movement when the kids are running around like wild Indians or the waves of the beach are crashing against the sand. Capture sun flare in the afternoons, which can add a really neat look to an otherwise ordinary photo. Have fun with it! You can always delete what you don’t like. 

2. Photograph your food in an appetizing way.

So many of us love to take photos of our food. But a lot of times, it can come off rather un-appealing when it’s photographed in low light or on a messy plate.

Overhead lighting is generally pretty horrible. Whether you’re photographing your freshly baked cupcakes or your dinner plate at a restaurant, try to get as close to a window as possible. I’m guilty of not taking this advice sometimes in restaurants when I’m dining at night, but try your best to take advantage of natural lighting when snapping pics of your food. And don’t even think about using that dreaded iPhone flash.

Like I mentioned above, shoot from a variety of perspectives! Set your phone on the table top to be level with the plate. Hold the phone way up above the table to get a full view of the table setting. Use editing tools to blur out everything in the background, focusing only on the dish. 

3. Selfies! They’re not only for the vain.

Selfies get a bad rap. Literally, there is a bad rap song out there all about taking selfies. I, for one, love selfies -- if they’re done right. I use this form to promote my business with the jewelry line Stella & Dot -- it’s the perfect way to show our style in various forms and what they look like actually on a real person, rather than a flawless model. 

Cropping is key! Got a fun new necklace or scarf? Show it off with a selfie focused closely on that item. Is coffee your morning addiction? Share a cropped photo of your arms/hands holding favorites from your coffee mug collection. Cropping helps focus the viewer on the important part of the photo and keeps them from being distracted by clutter in the background. 

Get a great (and flattering) angle by holding your iphone slightly above you. Don’t even think about holding it lower than you, unless you want to appear to have 2 chins and dark circles under your eyes. And if you have an iPhone, shoot with the front-facing camera so you can see what you’re photographing. 

Find good lighting! I can’t say this enough. Window lighting is a great way to get a nice, even tone for photos. Turn off all overhead lights and lamps, stand in front of a window, and let the light do it’s thing. 

4. Apps.

Tell a story with your images. One easy and fun way to get creative with them is by using a photo editing app. It’s super easy to load a photo into an app and drastically change the look and feel, making it more artful or playful or dramatic. Instagram is my go-to because of the ease of use with filters and sharing with the online community for both personal and business purposes. Some other great photo-related apps I use are Afterlight (for photo editing), Framatic (for creating collages), A Beautiful Mess (for lots of fun photo additions like text, images, and borders), and Waterlogue (for creating watercolor “art” from your photos). Try some out and make your own masterpieces! 

5. Don’t forget to capture the little moments.

Sometimes, we get so caught up in capturing the big things on camera -- birthdays, vacations, celebrations, etc…. that we forget to document the little things. So many times, it’s the little, everyday things that bring a smile to our faces and are something we really do want to remember. Smart phones are the perfect way to capture those unplanned, unposed moments with your little ones, your loved ones, your pets, or just a random pretty sunset on the way home from work. 

6. Do something with those photos!

So you spend all this time snapping photos on your phone (or real camera), and then you…do nothing with them. They’re forever imprisoned in your cell phone, or at the very best, uploaded to Instagram or Facebook through said phone. Take a few minutes each week or month to load your favorites onto your computer and organize them by month, vacation, etc. so they’re easy to find later. 

The next step is actually printing them! I love, love, love making my own photo books with a company called MyPublisher. The books are great quality, and they are so easy to make. You simply load your photos onto the program, and then you either do the “auto” layout or make your own on each page. I choose the latter because it gives a lot more creative freedom. They make great coffee table books, gifts, and are the perfect way to keep your memories at arms’ reach for years to come. 

Great tips from Melissa, huh?! Now show us what you've got!

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