What’s up everyone, Sagi here with another Tech Gear Talk. Today I’m going to give you some tips and tricks that will help you take amazing pictures for Instagram using your mobile phone. Instagram has blown up over the past few years and for me personally with how much I love photography and video, it’s definitely one of my favorite social media websites.
So if you’re working on an Instagram profile for a business, your personal brand of even just a profile you use for fun you want pictures that make people go WOW, this is the video for you.
I want to share with you some of the best kept secrets for creating incredible Instagram photos using your mobile phone so that you can immediately start having a more beautiful and impactful feed.
At the end of the video I’m going to give you a bonus tip. It’s one of the most important things I learned about photography and has been absolutely invaluable to me both when I use my phone or a professional camera.
I’ll be using an iPhone 7 Plus for this video but these concepts still apply to other makes and models.
Next, let’s look at how you hold the phone. I’ve tried all types of grips and the best one I found is this one. If you’re right handed like me, hold your left hand like you’re going to shake someone’s hand, then place the phone in your hand. Next, take your right hand, and support the phone from below with your palm and then use your thumb to change settings and press the shutter.
Having the phone rest in your palm it much more secure than relying on the small muscles in your fingers to remain stable.
So now we have the phone closer to us and a better grip.
The third part, and this isn’t always possible, but when you can, put your elbow against your body. This will add another level of stability to your stance. Finally, if this still isn’t working for you, there are some grips that you can attach to your camera that will be a great help, and I’ll link to a few of my favorites in the description.
Now that our Instagram pictures are sharper, let’s keep going.
To underexpose your shot means to make it a little darker than you want it to be. It’s better to have a slightly underexposed photo that you can then later brighten up with editing, instead of overexposing areas where you can never bring back any detail or color.
I’ll go into how to accomplish this later on in the video but an this point I just want you to internalize that concept.
If you don’t understand exposure in photography, or just want to freshen up a bit, I’ll link to another video both at the top here and in the description of this video. It’s an older video so excuse the flat personality, but the information is super relevant and helpful.
There is nothing wrong with the concept HDR when it’s executed correctly. I use it for interior photos all the time. But you know bad HDR images when you see them. They look super fake and have tons of artifacts. So most of the time I keep it simple and avoid that feature, I can always do some editing later on.
All those fingerprints and smudges on your lens are going to interfere with the camera to a fairly significant degree. Grab a lint-free cloth, or I use these Zeiss lens wipes for all of my camera equipment, or for my sunglasses. So when I’m done cleaning something else, I always use it to wipe down my phone. I think I bought 550 of these on Amazon about 2 years ago and I still have hundreds so it’s a pretty good investment.
You can also use a cotton swab with a little distilled water if your phone is really dirty and you don’t have the wipes I use.
I know you’ve seen plenty of pictures overexposed by bright sunlight or some super dark selfie that just ends up looking grainy and aweful. So before you start shooting, remember that if you don’t have a well-lit mobile phone photo, there’s pretty much nothing you can do to save it with editing. Let’s go over some tips and tricks to help you use lighting to get better Instagram pictures.
If I could only tell you one thing about lighting it would be that the broader or larger the light source, the softer the light is going to be. The narrower the source, the harder the light. The reason for this is that light coming from a broad source is hitting the subject from more angles which help fill in the shadows. That is why you always see photographers using big softboxes, because they are trying to take a small light source and diffuse into a big light source.
Ok, so let’s jump into our tips for lighting your Instagram photos.
These 2 pictures were taken in the exact same spot, but I was facing the window in one of them, and the window was behind me in the other. The difference is pretty clear.
So if you can plan for it, try being ready to take pictures during the golden hour rather than deciding to start once you notice the great light. You can use this beautiful light as a front light on your subject’s face and as backlighting or even rim lighting.
That is probably because the image wasn’t composed very well and didn’t capture exactly what you saw. An image that is composed well, directs the viewer’s eye to the subject and captures a story or emotion.
Ok, so what are some tips that you can use to up your Instagram photos from good to great?
So for example, fight the urge to always center your subject or the horizon line and put them on one of these lines. To help you with this, your phone’s camera actually offers a grid feature that will act as an guide.
So play around with taking the pictures with this rule of thirds in mind. It doesn’t mean that you can’t ever center your subject, but just be aware of the advantages of having an off-center point of interest.
We all walk around all day, looking at the world from the height of an average adult, so showing us something from a different angle will usually catch our eye. That why drone shots are so great, because they allow to look at things from a different angle.
One of my favorite ways to do this is to get as low to the ground as possible. There are many subjects that just aren’t that great when shot from normal height, but when you get low they look much more interesting. The iPhone camera is actually really great for this because I can place it even closer to the ground than I can my DSLR lens. And that helps me get some really cool shots, and also some interesting reflections.
I do recommend that you upload square images, but I don’t recommend that you use your phone’s square image option. I want you to take an image with the traditional size while keeping in mind that you will be cropping it into a square later on.
You might be saying, “if I’m going to crop it into a square later on, why not just take it in square?” You can. But when you’re starting out, I want you to focus on the other aspects of your picture, light, capturing emotion and being creative, rather than making sure that something or someone is perfectly positioned in the center or on the one-third lines.
You can make those small adjustments later on by cropping the image, and since you only need a 1080px x 1080px image for instagram, you can still crop your original image into a square without losing resolution. Remember that your phone takes much larger images than 1080 x 1080. For example my iPhone 7 Plus takes 4032px x 3024px images, so that leaves quite a bit of room for cropping.
I don’t mean that I just want you clicking away without thinking about the things I mention in this video, but I want you to know that there is some room for alignment and re-framiing in editing.
If you want to get even closer than the iPhone will allow, there are some really great macro lens options by Moment and Olloclip. They will both give you some amazing macro shots. I’ll put links in the description to both of these lens options and I’ll also do followup videos about each of them.
To do this on the iPhone, all you have to do is click anywhere on the screen and the phone will set focus. This is especially important when you want to highlight or feature a particular portion of your image. Your phone has no idea what you’re trying to do and you need to take control.
To do this on the iPhone, all you have to do is click anywhere on the image. The iPhone will not only set the focus on that point, but also the exposure. You can see that as you click on different areas of on the image, it gets brighter or darker to property expose for the area you selected.
You can now under and overexpose your image by sliding your finger up to increase exposure and down to decrease it.
Remember that if you have to choose, you’re going to want to under expose your pictures just a bit, to bring out those details in the highlights. You do that by sliding your finger down a little.
But there is an easy trick here. If you tap AND hold on your iPhone, you’ll see that the focus indicator will pulse twice and then lock. You’ll also see AE/AF LOCK at the top. That means that now the phone won’t change it every time you take a picture. You can still use the technique I showed you about altering the exposure by sliding your finger up or down, but now it will stay locked until you change it.
Remember this tip: First, take a picture. Then, take a better one!
Have you ever tried to take a picture of something like, maybe a baby doing something cute, or a puppy or a special interaction between two people? And you were trying to get just the right composition and maybe you’re moving around to get better lighting, and by the time you try to take the picture, the moment has passed.
First, take a picture. Then, take a better one!
Moments are fleeting, and of course you want to take the best picture you can, but it’s not worth risking missing the moment altogether. So when grandma has a cute interaction with her grandson, first capture the moment, then capture it better.
Some photos are about the moment itself, rather than something that may only be aesthetically pleasing. So, yes, you want to make sure you capture that moment the best way you can, but it’s better to first make sure you have any picture of it, and then work to get a better one.
Your original may not end up being one that you post to Instagram, but you’ll always have a memory of that moment.
Your job is to get the best possible image out of your phone so that you are in the best position to do some photo editing.
In my next video about this topic, I’m going to cover the best editing tips for Instagram photos. I’ll also go over my favorite apps for photo editing. If you liked this video and that’s something you’re interested in learning more about, smash that subscribe and notification buttons.
You can always find me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @techgeartalk. Good luck and see you soon.