April 24, 2020
With everything going on related to the COVID-19 pandemic, photographers everywhere have been restricted by the stay-at-home / shelter-in-place orders. We are unfortunately considered non-essential business (which is so sad)! However, as much as we may disagree about our essential-status, myself and many of my fellow photographers are making sure to take precautions and follow the guidelines provided by our local government. Which means, we aren’t able to hold photoshoots for now. While our businesses are shut down…life still goes on! And many life events cannot be canceled. Pregnancy/birth, anniversaries, some wedding ceremonies, etc. Just because we can’t work, doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to have beautiful images to remember this time in your lives.
It really is so cool that we have (honestly quite decent) cameras right in our pockets! So I want to share some tips on how to create great images right on your phone, because this is a time that I believe should be documented. Whether you’re experiencing big event in your life, or just going through it.
Lighting is the #1 most important thing no matter what camera you’re using! But it is extra especially important when taking photos with your phone, because its much more difficult to fix bad lighting with editing on a phone photo. So what is good lighting? Clean and even.
If you’re taking photos outdoors, the best time of day is in the morning / evening, when the light is nice and soft. If it’s sunny, I recommend finding “open shade”.
Open shade is nice solid shade, created by a building, or thick trees. You want your subject to be facing an open light source (the sky), with the shade coming from behind them. If there are lots of trees/buildings in front of the subject, it can create harsh shadows/color casts.
If it’s overcast, face your subject towards the sun – the clouds will create a beautiful, diffused light, without the harsh shadows.
If you’re taking photos indoors, let in as much natural light as possible! Take photos near a window. If the room is on the darker side, you can use a white poster board (or any large, white object) to bounce the window light on the other side of your subject.
Composition is important in creating a quality image! I could teach a whole class on composition alone, but for our purpose here – here is my basic rule of thumb. The Rule of Thirds. This means if you divide your image into 9 equal parts (two vertical lines and two horizontal lines), you want the main focus of your photo to land in the outer-third corners. Here’s a great article that explains this more in detail:
This is something that you can fix by cropping and straightening afterwards, but you don’t want to crop a phone image too much and lose quality – so it’s important to consider it when you’re taking the photo.
Posing is a major part of photographing humans! This isn’t something you need to worry about too much if you’re capturing candid moments, but it’s definitely something to consider with portraits.
Whether you’re the one being photographed, or the one taking the photo, here’s a couple of things to consider. In general, avoid standing straight on towards the camera. To look relaxed and natural, bend those joints – pop a knee and soften your elbow. Angle yourself about 45 degrees to the camera, and lean ever so slightly towards the camera. Focus on good posture whether you’re sitting or standing, and give your hands something to do.
Add a little movement! Once you feel a little warmed up to taking photos, try walking, twirling a dress, playing with your hair, laughing, etc.
Editing can seriously take those phone photos to the next. level. The tool I recommend above anything else, is Lightroom mobile. This is a free app available to anyone, and is awesome because you can control so many details of the photo that you can’t if you just edit on your phone’s camera or on instagram. You don’t even need to know much about editing to create an awesome image! You can download and install “presets” that do the heavy lifting for you. If you have a quality preset, all you need to worry about is adjusting exposure and white balance. You can search for presets on
And some of my personal faves:
Here are a few Before / Afters on some of my own phone photos!
I will be back with a whole post on editing in Lightroom Mobile, so stay tuned! And happy photo taking!