How to Take Professional Looking Photos With Your Phone

As a Fairly new blogger, starting out my blog has been so exciting and such a challenge! One of the main components to any good blog is the photos that accompany them. Connecting to your audience is so much easier with a photo. Personally, I’m a visual learner so seeing photos to go along with whatever I’m reading about really helps me to, not only understand, but remember what I’m reading. Taking eye catching photos with clear, beautiful quality is the best way to do that.

But you say, “Leslie, I don’t have a camera. I take all my photos on my phone.” And I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. I take all my photos on my phone. And I’m starting to find out that a lot of bigger name bloggers are doing the same. Having a DSLR with you all the time in your everyday life is not something most people do. In fact, it’s more tedious than a lot of people want to deal with. While, professional, high quality photos on a good camera are great, there’s a lot you can do with your phone to have nice, crisp, high quality photos.

Disclaimer: All of the photos showcased in this post have been taken with my iPhone 8 Plus and edited on my phone with apps I will mention.

A majority of bloggers admittedly use their iPhone for some of their photos. The quality of cell phone photos has taken off in the last several years, especially since the release of the iPhone X. That’s one thing I think Apple nailed right on the head with their phone upgrades, the camera. While shooting with a good camera and proper lenses is always going to be better, if you’re working with what you have, your phone has several setting to take breathtaking photos without the hassle of lugging around a camera that you may or may not know how to use.

I’m specifically going to talk about the iPhone 8 Plus because that’s what I use currently and the settings that I’m familiar with. Although, the iPhone X and later models have the same settings and more, so they can accomplish the same goal. I’m going to share a few tips that I’ve found helpful while shooting my photos.

1. Planning

Think about your photo. I know that seems silly but it’s very important and something I had never done before I started blogging. Think about what you want to show in your photo, where you’re going to take the photo, and what you want your photo to look like. What colors do I want to highlight or focus on? What/who do I want to be the focus of my photo? Having an idea of what you want to see on the other end of your phone is so important if you’re going to be able to take photos that you not only love, but that are clear and convey what you’re wanting to share with your readers.

Here is a test shot I took of my husband before I started shooting. Here you can see the lighting clearly isn’t working so I made some changes.

I had him turn around and face the opposite direction. You can see the difference in the lighting, the haze of the photo. While this isn’t focused for clarity, it is substantially better than the first one. This saved me a whole bunch of time reshooting photos because I tested it beforehand to see what they would look like on my hubs. He’s such a good sport!

2. Test Shots

This is something photographers do with their camera and it’s a great way to test out what your photo will look like. What the lighting is like, what’s fitting in the frame, and how crisp it is can all be assessed in a test shot. I often have my husband sit in place of myself in the shot to see where the light will hit, how close I am to what or who I’m shooting and to get a good idea of what my photo is going to look like. “Instagram Husband” has taken on a whole new role! Hahaha.

Here you can see my attempt at shooting this photo in the natural light that was coming through the windows failed. If I had upped the exposure enough to see the photo it was have been extremely grainy.

This is the same setting but I used my studio light to shoot the photo.

3. Lighting

One thing I’ve learned over time, by practicing and trial and error, is how to get good lighting. You may think that bright, beaming sunlight is the best to take a photo with but it’s probably just as bad as shooting in the dark. Even and overcast light is often the best to take photos in especially, outside. If you’re taking indoor photos, bright light works but you have to be careful so that it doesn’t overexpose your photos. You also want to make sure that the light is even and not blasting in one area and overcast in another. If you’re lacking natural light in your home, you can always get an inexpensive studio photography light. I have this studio light and it makes a huge difference in my photos that I take in my home. This photo shown above was taken in the same spot at the same time of day. These are showing with and without a studio light. It’s amazing what a difference it made!

We live in an old house and it definitely lacks the Joanna Gaines four sets of French doors and windows along every wall. Using the studio light that I got on Amazon for less than $40 has made all the difference. You can get crisp photos on your phone when it’s too dark. Lightening a super dark photo makes it extremely grainy and distorts the quality so it’s not clear enough to see, much less use on a blog or instagram feed.

4. Camera Settings

Portrait mode! Yes, the best feature on my phone to date. Even when I’m not taking portraits, I use this setting. It does a great job of clearly focusing on the subject of the photo and blurring the background. Portrait mode has different lighting settings as well. I use “natural” and “studio” lighting depending on what the lighting is like where I’m shooting. Another tip would be to never use your front facing camera. Let’s be honest, it’s much easier to take photos of yourself when you can see what’s in the frame but the quality of the front facing camera is complete crap honestly. It may work for Snapchat or for your stories but for crisp, clear photos you’re going to want to use the camera on the back of your phone.

5. Photo Cropping

Don’t crop your photos. This is something that I still have to remind myself of. Cropping a photo down changes the quality of the photo. I’m learning to always move in closer when taking the photo so I don’t have to crop later on. It really helps keep the original quality of the photo. You want to see on your phone what you want in your final photo. As you can see in the picture above, there are several issues. But the biggest one I see is that I would have to crop it to get a good photo, bright it a lot and edit endlessly. Changing my angle, coming in closer and letting my camera focus changed this photo completely.

6. Editing Apps

Get accustomed to photo editing apps. There are a few I use on a regular basis. Just like a photographer, even if you have excellent photos you will still have to edit them on occasion for one reason or another. Lightroom is great if you intend to use presets, need to brighten your photo, or tone specific colors up or down in the photo. Snapseed is what I use to edit the exposure or saturation on a specific area of of photo without changing the whole thing. You can brush expose up or down in darker areas of the photo daily easily. And Photoshop Fix is what I use to heal or remove things from photos like wall outlets, flyaway hairs or crumbs on my floor (because three small kids means there’s always crumbs 😂.) All of these apps have different settings and can do much more than that but, that’s primarily what I use each app for.

7. Have fun!

Photography is supposed to be expression of your creativity, be it on a high end DSLR or your iPhone. Don’t lose sight of the joy that comes with creating beautiful photos! Good photos come with time and lots of practice. I’m still nowhere near where I want to be, but I’ve gotten better slowly and hope I continue to learn!

I’m by no means a professional photographer. When I was starting out I was looking for information on just this and I wasn’t able to find it. So I compiled all my tips from what I’ve learned, tips from friends, and trial and error. Hopefully this will help you get closer to the photos you’re envisioning in your head and boost your confidence in your photos so you can creative relevant and inspiring content for others!

Don’t forget to pin it on Pinterest!




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