By: Cecilia Bennett

We all know the struggle of spotting something that’d be perfect for your Instagram page, taking a picture, and being so excited to post it- and then looking at it later and discovering that it’s blurry, or that your finger is in it, or that it just didn’t turn out as well as you hoped it would. Never fear- there are plenty of ways to improve your smartphone photography skills! Read on for a few tips on how to take great pictures for your social media accounts using only your smartphone.

Pay Attention to Composition

Most smartphone cameras have a way to turn on gridlines, usually dividing the photos into 9 squares. This can help you utilize the “rule of thirds,” which suggests that placing subjects along those gridlines creates a composition in your photo which is more pleasing to the human eye. Try not to place the main subject of your photo directly in the center. For example, if you’re snapping a photo of your dog, try turning on the grid line guides and positioning your dog to the left along one of the gridlines. Positioning your subject in the center can make the photo look static and boring, whereas off-center subjects draw the eye around the photo in interesting ways.

Don’t Be Afraid to Leave Negative Space

burger photo taken with negative space

You don’t have to fill every pixel of your photo with interesting stuff, in fact, it’s best not to. One subject against a background of negative space is a better idea. Think about it- some of the prettiest pictures on social media consist of one person standing against a brick wall, or a coffee cup sitting in the middle of a white counter with nothing else around it. Negative space draws more attention to your subject, so use it!

You Got to Keep it Focused

Most smartphone cameras make the process of focusing on a subject very easy- all you need to do is tap on your subject on the screen, and it’ll usually focus automatically. “Portrait mode” is definitely worth utilizing, but do be cautious- smartphone cameras obviously aren’t perfect, so if you lower the f-stop too much, you may end up blurring things you don’t intend to. For example, if your subject is holding a cup of coffee up to their lips, portrait mode will usually blur that, as it’s not a part of your subject’s face. Watch out for that, and try to take a few photos with portrait mode and a few photos without, just in case portrait mode makes it look strange.

Don’t Over-Filter

smartphone photo filter options

Filters are one of the easiest ways to edit a photo, and there are tons of smartphone apps out there that make it even easier. Apps such as VSCO and Color Story come with tons of pre-loaded filters, as well as “packs” of filters that you can purchase in-app. Filters are great tools, but be careful not to over-filter your photos. Remember, filters are there to enhance your photo, not make it into something completely different. Depending on what effects you’re going for, look for filters that give a slightly vintage effect, brighten colors, or wash out backgrounds a bit. Filter your photos enough to make them stand out, but not so much that they’re hard to look at!

Avoid Cliche Shots

Cliche shots can be fun to do, but they also make people less likely to notice and engage with your photos on social media. Think of what Instagram looks like during the fall- every other photo is someone covering half of their face with a large, brightly colored leaf, or holding a coffee cup with a cozy sweater pulled over their hands. These kinds of photos are good for personal pages, but for businesses, you need something that stands out more. Try to think outside of the box- perhaps start with something cliche and build on it with your own personal touch until it turns into something new and exciting!

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