Hey y’all and welcome to the very first post in my Beginner Photo Tips for Bloggers series! I put off writing this for a while because I thought maybe I wasn’t knowledgable enough, but after some encouragement from Husband and some friends, I decided to go for it! First things first, I am by no means a professional photographer but photography is certainly a hobby of mine. However, I think photography for the purpose of blogging can be very different from “regular” photography. Obviously there are some basic similarities, but I feel like bloggers approach photography from a very different angle. (See what I did there? Heehee.) Because of that these tutorials are geared towards tips for bloggers rather than basic photography tips. Here goes!
How to Take Awesome iPhone Photos
No fancy camera? No problem! Smartphones these days have cameras built in that are better than most point and shoot cameras. Since I have an iPhone, I’ll be focusing on tips for iPhones but most of the tips can be used for any camera phone.
All pictures shown in this post were taken with my iPhone and were not edited except for minimal cropping of some photos.
Learn Your Equipment
Just like with a regular camera, you need to learn how to use your iPhone camera. Sure you can just bring up the camera app and click but for better pictures you need to spend a little more time getting to know it! One of my very favorite (and I think most important) features of the iPhone camera is the touch to focus feature. This is particularly helpful when taking pictures of smaller things. It helps the camera figure out just what you’re trying to focus on!
You can see in this photo how at first the camera is not sure where to focus. The yellow box is where I tapped my finger to let the camera know where to focus. You can do this as many times as you like before snapping the picture.
This is how the photo would have looked after telling the camera where to focus. Much better!
Another little trick specific to the iPhone is that you can actually use either volume button to take the picture. This is sometimes useful due to awkward hand positions but I’m not a huge fan of it because it does cause some shaking of the phone which can lead to a blurry photo.
The last and most important equipment trick to using a camera phone is to turn off the flash! If I have to use my phone for blog photos, I make sure to do so when there is enough natural light. I’m ok with artificial light if it’s from lights in the room you’re in (and if natural light isn’t an option) but the flash from a camera phone is very rarely flattering to your subject, whether it be a person or the super awesome cookies you just made.
Treat Your Camera Phone Like a “Real” Camera
If you’re using your phone when taking blog photos, pretend it’s a real camera. This bit of advice came from Husband after he saw me using the phone to take some pictures for the blog. He asked why I wasn’t staging my pictures like I usually do or getting down to my subject’s level. Hm. Good question! And that’s when I started treating my iPhone like a real camera!
Stage Your Photos
Even if you’re just taking a picture of your favorite coffee mug to put on Instagram, make sure there’s not a pile of junk in the background. I’m not saying we should all pretend we’re Martha Stewart (ew, who would want to pretend that anyway!) but you should remove objects that are going to detract from your photo. Sometimes the clutter in the background adds to the depth and meaning of the picture, but other times, it’s just in the way!
Think About Light!
I know I mentioned this above, but it’s so important that I wanted to talk more about it. We already talked about how using your camera phone’s flash can ruin a picture, but not having enough light can ruin it too. And sometimes, a little rearranging does the trick!
I made several crucial mistakes in this picture. 1. The light is behind my subject and making it super shadow-y. (Yes, that is a technical term.) 2. I’m standing straight up pointing the camera down at my subject when I should be shooting straight at it. 3. There’s all sorts of junk behind my subject, distracting from the point of the picture.
This one is a bit better, but I still forgot to remove the crap from behind my subject. But at least you can actually see what I’m taking a photo of this time! And can you see how I shot it from straight on rather than looking down at it?
In case you’re wondering, the photos above are from a New Orleans care package my dad sent. He wants to make sure my kitchen in Nebraska is fully stocked with tastes from home.
As mentioned briefly above, to take good iPhone photos (or any photos for that matter) you need to move! Standing straight up and simply pointing your camera (or phone) at random objects will not make for very good pictures. There’s a reason most photographers look a little crazy while taking pictures. They are doing whatever it takes to shoot from the best possible angle. I’m not saying you need to go throwing yourself on the ground or climbing on top of things to get decent pictures for your blog, but if the photo looks a little awkward, try another angle! I find this especially helpful when taking pictures of food. I usually photograph food from several different angles to see which ones I like best!
For this photo I simply pointed my camera at a bag of apples and clicked. It’s an ok picture and you can certainly see the apples but it’s not exactly the awesome omg-we-went-to-an-orchard-and-brought-back-a-bag-of-apples! photo I was going for. Also please note the random grocery bags in the background.
For the second try, I moved the grocery bags and got my phone a bit closer to the subject. I had to use the tap to focus a few times to get it right but I liked this result much better! The apples really stand out in this photo and make more of a statement!
Every photographer has different motivations and reasons for capturing any given moment, but for bloggers, it’s often about being able to share that moment with others using words and pictures. For me I usually want to share some fun I’m having or something yummy I’m eating. Why do you take pictures? What’s your motivation when you pull out your phone and bring up the camera app?