Social Media Monday: Tips for Taking Quality Photos with Your Smartphone

Cell phones have come a long way in just a few years. Remember when we used to use them just for phone calls? It’s a distant memory, that’s for sure! Now, in addition to surfing the web and interacting with your friends on social networks, you can use your smartphone to take and share photos. While smartphone cameras vary greatly in quality, that doesn’t mean you can’t work with what you’ve got and learn how to take great pictures! Whether your subject is your favorite Market America products or your team at World Conference, here are some tips for snapping photos that you will actually want to share on social media.

First things first – Get acquainted with your camera app
How well do you know your smartphone’s camera app? Are you familiar with what “all those little icons” do and how to use them? If the answer is no, take some time to go through each of the settings and figure out what they do. Start by learning how to turn the flash and zoom on and off, how to crop photos, and how to change the resolution and exposure. To do this, you can Google your phone’s make and model to find videos and step by step tutorials that will teach you about the settings. You can also refer to your owner’s manual or user guide to find information about each setting and what you can use them for.

Keep it clean – your lens, that is
It might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to make sure that your lens is clean before you start snapping the “perfect” shot. We touch our phones all day, and that can result in a lens that is covered in grime, grease, and other gross stuff that causes blurry pictures.

Use the flash – but only when you have to
Smartphone camera flashes are very similar to an LED flashlight. If you can avoid using a flash, by all means, please do so! The flash will almost always wash out your subject or cause red eye. Even in some lower – light situations, you may find that a flash is not necessary. If you’re unsure, take one photo with flash and one without to see how it looks.

Sometimes you just can’t get around using a flash, and that’s where editing apps come in (I’ll share some of my favorite ones with you later in this post), but don’t always assume you need one! If you’re snapping a picture of an inanimate object (like your favorite Isotonix® products) and there isn’t enough light, move it to where there is! Turn on some lights, open your shades, do whatever you have to do to let in as much natural light as possible in order to avoid using a flash.

Use the highest resolution possible
Have you learned how to change the resolution on your photos? Great! Now, make sure your resolution setting is set to the highest it can go. Why? The higher your resolution, the clearer your photos will be. The only downside is that a higher resolution means a larger file size, so your photos will use more memory and take longer to send. To free up space on your phone, make it a point to back your photos up once a month and then delete old shots you don’t need immediate access to.

Be thoughtful about framing your photos
Don’t just hold up your phone and snap a picture; you’ve got to frame it first! To frame a picture, hold your phone up and pause. Look at what’s in the frame (what shows up on your screen) and what else other than your subject is in the foreground and in the background. There’s nothing worse than taking a seemingly awesome photo only to realize later that something in the background completely ruined it. If you see something you don’t want in your photo, move! Move your phone up, down, left or right, or change your physical vantage point to capture your subject from a different angle.

Get in close and avoid zoom!
While it’s important to know how to use the zoom feature, using the zoom feature can result in a grainy, blurry, and otherwise horrible picture. It’s always better to get in close; the closer you are, the more personal and detailed your shot will be (but not SO close that you crop important features of the photo out, or worse, creep out your friends).

If you can’t get close to your subject, focus on taking a great photo from afar and crop it later. To do this, hold your camera up in front of you and squeeze your elbows in at your sides. This will help stabilize the camera when capturing a subject that is far away. Then, use the cropping feature to “zoom” in on your subject and – voila! A clear, close up photo of your subject, without all the graininess that results from using zoom.

Edit with apps
There are zillions of photo-editing apps out there, but my personal favorite is Pixlr. It’s free, and it’s available on iOS, Android, and even on your desktop! Simply search “Pixlr” in your app store and download it to your phone. There are a LOT of editing options, so take some time to familiarize yourself with what it can (and can’t) do.

Another one of our team’s favorite apps is Instagram. What’s better than a photo editing app AND social media network, all rolled into one? Setting up an Instagram account is easy, and editing photos is a no-brainer. Even if your photos aren’t picture perfect yet, we still want to see them! Make sure to follow us on Instagram @MarketAmerica and tag your Market America – related pics with #IHeartMA.

Now it’s time to experiment! Practice makes perfect, so set some time aside to play around with the different settings, snapping photos in various environments, and the effect of different types of light. Don’t forget to play around with emailing the photos to yourself or uploading them to a test album on Facebook (good practice for someone who isn’t very familiar with sharing pics on social media!). And don’t forget, you can always reach out to us with any of your social media or social-sharing related questions!

Now it’s your turn: what are YOUR tips for taking great photos with your smartphone? Share them with us in the comment section below!

Andrew Bonner, Lead Social Media Writer

Andrew Bonner, Lead Social Media Writer


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