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How to Take Better Photos with Your Phone


How to Take Better Photos with Your Phone

So often someone will show me a photo they’ve taken on their phone and quickly say “it’s just a phone photo, it’s not that great.” But I’m here to tell you, I love using my phone to take pictures too! And while it’s true that they don’t have the capacity to compete with professional cameras, they still do a pretty good job! Today I am exited to share my tips for taking better photos with your phone!

1.) Avoid Harsh Sun When Photographing Outside

A lot of my couples are surprised when I direct them to step out of the sun while I’m photographing them. After all, I do love bright and clean images! But the truth is, harsh sunlight is not very flattering in photographs. It can cause shadows under the eye, uneven light, spots that are just way too bright or blown out and not to mention squinting. Yeah, no thanks! If you’re shooting outside, I suggest looking for open shade instead. This will give you even lighting and will be much more flattering for your subject. This is especially helpful if you are taking photos outside in the middle of the day. In the photo below I moved Zach from a sunny spot in our yard to open shade. Pay attention to the harsh shadow under his chin!

2.) Use Window Light When Photographing Inside

It’s amazing how much of a difference a few feet can make! If I’m taking a selfie or recording an instagram story, you better believe I’m standing in front of a window. Natural light is always going to look best in my book. So find a window and stand about one to two feet away from it, facing outside of course.

3.) Avoid the Wrong Kind of Backlighting

What is backlighting exactly? The worst, that’s what. Ok, ok.. but truly backlighting is not your friend in most cases. I frequently see people post photos using a window as the “backdrop.” But all that does is make the subject appear darker and hazy and the background super bright. Remember tip number two from above – flip around and face the window! I took the photos of Nova below within a few seconds of one another. (Ps. Don’t mind the muddy floor. It rained today and I have two dogs. Haha!) Look at how much better the one of her facing the light is!

4.) Turn off Artificial Light When Photographing Indoors During the Day

It might seem like a good plan to turn on more lights when taking photos, but that isn’t always the case. At least not when photographing indoors during the day. Lamps and other light fixtures often have a more warmer temperature compared to natural lighting. This is how you get mixed lighting, and friends.. it isn’t cute. So switch those lights off and get to your window!

5.) Avoid Using Flash

Remember tip number four? Turn off artificial light blah blah blah? Well here is where I’m going to tell you the opposite. If you are photographing indoors at night, I suggest to avoid using the flash on your phone. Flash can be awesome, but it can also be really harsh and unflattering. Instead, use as much ambient light as you can and go with out the flash. What is ambient light? It’s the primary source of light in the room. Of course, if it’s still too dark by all means bring out the flash! But I would try it with out flash – facing a light source – first.

6.) Use Portrait Mode

This tip is for all my fellow iPhone lovers out there. My favorite thing about using my iPhone to take photos? Portrait mode! I took the photo below on my phone because I knew this moment was fleeting and there would be no time to grab my camera. And my goodness, I am so glad I did! And for those wondering, they sat like that all on their own!

7.) Don’t Be Afraid to Edit

These days there are a million editing apps available. How lucky are we? And the thing is, editing a photo might seem intimidating at first, but it gets easier the more you do it. You just have to keep playing with it to find a look you like! I suggest checking out the A Color Story app! I edited the photo below using A Color Story. Check out the difference!

8.) Say No to Zoom

This one is simple. Zoom ruins the quality of an image. Thank you, next.

9.) Put Space Between Your Subject and the Background

This next tip really depends on your style preference, but as for me.. I like a good blurry background. A blurry background is called bokeh – and I pretty much live for it. I feel that it makes the subject pop and I use it frequently when taking portraits. What’s really cool is there is one small change you can make to your photos – no matter if you’re using an iPhone or a DSLR that can help you achieve bokeh. Move your subject away from the backdrop. Wall? Move them. Fence? Move them. Line of trees? You got it… move them. Try having them take five steps away from the backdrop and see what you think. You can always keep moving them farther away too. It really just depends on what you like! Just keep in mind, this technique might not be best if you want to actually feature whatever it is you are using as a backdrop. Flowering trees are a great example – you might want to keep them close for that because flowering trees are just lovely!


10.) Use the Best Light of the Day

Finally, for my last tip I will share with you one of my biggest insider secrets. The last two hours before sunset are the most beautiful of the entire day. The light is low in the sky and it creates the most incredible golden glow. If you are outside taking photos during this time of day (or any time of day really) – keep your subjects’ back to the sun. If you start to get a glare, move to the side and shoot more from an angle.


Be sure to check out more of tips here!


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I'm Alison — brand and wedding  photographer in Indianapolis, Indiana.


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