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How to take professional-looking smart phone photos

So, you've got a phone in your pocket almost all the time and you're constantly taking pictures. Why not use a couple of tips to make your photos look professional? Here are a few tips from a photographer on how take professional looking photos.

Watch your Horizon lines: I'll start out with a quick and easy one :) Before you even start to take a photo, double check

Angles: One of the best ways to get a great photo is know what angle to shoot from. Taking photos of people will be most flattering if the camera is at the eye level of the tallest person in the group, this helps narrow out necks and has an overall flattering look on everyone.

Centering for groups of people: For large groups of group, try to make sure that there isn't anyone on the very edge of the photo. The way your phone lens works is that it will squash everyone on the edge of the picture giving them a squatter look than what is normal.

Cropping: Eliminating unnecessary white noise in the photo will draw attention to the main subject(s.)

A simple background: When there is a very busy background it makes it difficult for your eyes to figure out what's going on. For example, let's say you have the option to take photos and you're looking at two walls. One has a living wall with beautiful plants and your other option is a wall with a drinking fountain, window, and Christmas tree. In this case, you'd want to use the living wall as a backdrop.

Although this image was not taken with a phone, the principles above still apply. The horizon line is straight, the angle and height of the camera was taken just high enough to flatter everyone's bodies, no one is at the edge of the picture, and it has been cropped enough to get rid of distracting trees. I'd say it probably could have been cropped to hide the fence post as well, thankfully, they're not too distracting.

Take 1-2 BIG steps forward: After you've found the right backdrop to take a photo in front of, give some distance between the subject and the background. It again, brings the main subject to focus and is just an overall eye pleaser.

Rule of Thirds: The Rule of thirds means that if you cut your image up into thirds, you would place your subject somewhere where on the left or right side of the image, roughly 1/3 away the edge of the photograph. This just offers a little bit of extra interest into your photograph.

Lighting: Any light that is direct is going to be harsh. The best lighting you can find is going to be near a window that blocks direct sunlight, but still gives you a nice glow. Avoid large lights in a room. If you are indoors and there is enough light from the windows, turn off all your indoor lights to get a beautiful and soft light.

Shoot facing IN to the sun: Quite often, people like to take images with the subjects facing into the sunshine to make their faces brighter. Unfortunately, the phots usually end up with the subject squinting, with dark shadows that age them, and the photographers shadow is often in the picture. Instead, try shooting into the sun, and then afterward, if the subject is too dark, try increasing the "Shadows" setting in your phones editing program.

In this image you can see that the main subjects have a nice distance between them and the background behind them, we are shooting into the sun giving the subjects nice skin tones and no harsh shadows.

Use the Free Lightroom App on your phone: Finally, and what I think is the most underutilized app on the internet, is the (free) Adobe Lightroom app for smart phones. (I am not getting paid or sponsored for this.) It includes free presets you can apply to your photos and there are several online tutorials on how to use the app. Also it's a blast to learn and in under 5 minutes you can DRASTICALLY improve your photos.

Finally! This is really just a very niche tip, but I heard it recently and it made so much sense! But if you're taking newborn photos, turn the heat up in the room you're taking pictures in! Often in newborn pictures, the baby gets cold and begins to cry, but if the room is nice and toasty, baby won't have a chance BUT to fall asleep!

Okay, that's all! Thanks for reading and happy shooting!

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