Take better photos with four simple changes

After a funny text exchange with Tiffany the other day, I was inspired to write this post. I think most people want to take good photos. Now that nearly everyone has a cell phone with a camera, people are taking photos constantly. But, I see a lot of photos that are dark or blurry. I sometimes post those myself, since they capture the moment. And there is nothing wrong with that, of course. But, if you want to improve your phone or camera photos in 2015, I have five really easy changes you can make today to make your photos better.

Ezra is 6-months-old (12 of 22)

I’ve been working hard at making my photos for the blog and Instagram better. I’m not talking about the photos Melissa Oholendt takes either. Obviously, hers are amazing and I’d love to hire her for every blog post, but it’s not happening yet (I say yet, because we have big goals in the next few years). But I’ve made improvements just on my own photos with my phone and camera.

I do it for myself because I simply like pretty things. I am no photo or styling expert, but I have learned from my own mistakes and have made improvements.

Ezra is 6-months-old (8 of 22)

Take a look at some examples of before and after photos here.

Blog Photo BEFORE

No really. You have to click through and laugh at this post. Everything is wrong with these photos. Everything. And can I tell you something kind of unbelievable? That post is my number one pinned post and my number one source of traffic from Pinterest. With my blog friends, I call it “The Ugly Banana.” I’m so thankful I learned how to shoot manually and adjust my white balance after this. Editing can also make a difference, but wow! Just wow! This was almost 2.5 years ago. I can’t believe I let this on my blog. I only leave it because so many people come each day for this “recipe,” a term I use very loosely. ;)

Blog Photo AFTER

Blood orange mint mocktail baby shower bar plus easy DIY tassel wine tag party favors and simple syrup

I learned a lot from trial and error while shooting yesterday’s post and can’t wait to share more on that.

Instagram Photo BEFORE

This was just a few months ago, but I would not share something like this anymore. I’d either shoot super tight to capture the color or I’d shoot something closer to the window for a brighter, more beautiful image.

Instagram Photo AFTER and another AFTER

Obviously, I’m not going for perfection. But, I think this tighter shot of our powder room is much more visually interesting than a shot of the entire room (which would then be dark and dingy). It’s fun to think outside the box on how you are going to convey something, whether it’s your child’s smile, a new object on your fireplace or a recipe you are working on. Here’s another example of an Instagram photo I tightened up on that looks much better than it would’ve had I just taken a huge “look at my counter” type of photo.

Ready to make some changes? Click through to start improving your photos now. 

5 simple tweaks to make your photos better (with your phone or a camera)

1. Face the light. Lighting is everything. Sometimes I just don’t have good light, but if you have a window anywhere near by, face your subject or object towards the light. It will make a huge difference. Even better, face your subject half way towards the light. I love a little shadow. All of the images in this post were photographed with the window to my right. When I photograph anything, it’s all about “where is the light?

Photograph anything better with four simple changes

2. Get creative with angles. I used to shoot straight on almost always and usually took wide shots. In the photo below, I kept it really simple, but instead of shooting straight at my subject, I shot from above for a pretty interesting look. It won’t work for everything, but it does work for some things.

Blood orange mint mocktail baby shower bar plus easy DIY tassel wine tag party favors and simple syrup

3. Fill the screen. I’ve learned that things almost always look better when they are tight shots, other than nature, sky and times when you want to show how vast something is. Sometimes filling your view finder with your object or person makes a big difference. And it is completely ok to cut off some things. Really. It is.

Blood orange mint mocktail baby shower bar plus easy DIY tassel wine tag party favors and simple syrup

4. Easy editing. Whether you edit on your phone using an app, on Instagram, using Picmonkey or you are a Photoshop pro, simple edits make a difference. I no longer use filters on Instagram other than black and white from time to time, but I almost always use the brightening tool. In Picmonkey or Lightroom, this would be “Exposure.” Don’t take it up too far, but just a little bit of brightening can make an impact.

5. Take LOTS of photos. I love trying different things and taking many photos, especially when I’m photographing my children who don’t always cooperate. I also find that as I take photos and learn, new findings become habits which make my photography (with my phone and camera) better over time without even really trying. And shooting constantly can yield great results. Sometimes you get a hilarious gem like the one below.

Improving your photos in five easy steps

Was I going for this face? Of course not. But now, it’s one of my favorite images from Ezra’s 6-month photos.

What do you think? Are you going to try to improve your photos in 2015? I’m planning to improve my interior home photos with the purchase of a new lens, a tripod and practice, practice, practice.

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