Everyone is a photographer now. The convenience and easy usability of having a phone built into the camera – I mean a camera built into the phone! – makes us all instant paparazzi. However, after viewing hundreds or thousands of photos on the web, one thing is clear – having a camera does not make someone a photographer.

While I’m no expert myself, here are a few simple tips of how I take photos which might be useful.

  • Composition is everything. Try to get an interesting angle, or get really close up. Use something to frame your image (like a tree, a doorway etc) as this helps draw the eye to the subject. Get down on your knees when photographing kids so you are their height, or lie down on the floor with pets. It gives the viewer a completely different perspective and makes your image much more interesting. The ‘rule of thirds‘ is a good guide to keep in mind when you are taking the image or when cropping.
  • Lighting is super important. The photographers mantra ‘make sure the sun is on your back’ is a good tip to keep in mind. If the sun is behind you, your subject will be lit up and not in shadow. If you are taking a photo indoors, try to use natural lighting through a window or door, or use artificial lighting to illuminate your subject. It will make your photo much clearer and sharper.
  • Lean on something. To get the best image, you need to hold your camera as still as you can (or use a tripod) to get a sharp image. Leaning your arm against a wall or doorway can help, or using a table to rest your camera/phone on is another trick.
  • Tap to focus! On your phone screen, tap on the subject of your photo and the lens will focus on that object. Such a simple trick but it turns a slightly blurry picture into a sharp one.
  • Take the photo. After trying out lots of different apps, I now just take a photo using the standard iPhone Camera app because it is the fastest to load and I can do it from my lock screen.  Also, some apps will reduce the size of the image if it is taken in the app (eg Instagram), but the Camera app takes a full size photo. Then I go into my app of choice and work the image up.
  • Choose an app. I’ve tried a heap of apps, including Camera+, Instagram, Tadaa, Afterlight and my current favourite is Snapseed. In the app, I’ll manipulate the image in the following order. First crop to size (if you want to post on Instagram you need a square image), next choose a filter, lastly adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, white balance, blur etc after the filter is applied. No point brightening the photo and then applying a filter which doubles the effect, so do the tuning last.

Other tips:

  • I generally use square images if I am posting them on my blog or on social media so I make sure when I line up a picture that it can be cropped to square.
  • I turn off all the geo tagging of images as I don’t particularly want my home location blasted all over the web.
  • For editing images on the web, pixlr.com is fabulous. I use this all the time to resize and scale images. There are 3 versions depending on how advanced you are – I use the express one mostly, but Photoshop experts will pick up the advanced version no problems.

If you get really good, then you could make a living out of your Instagram pics like these people have! However in the meantime, you can see more of my cat photos by following me here on Instagram.

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