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12/29/11I am not a photographer…

…but somehow I take some decent shots now and then and I’ve had a few requests of late for a post on photography tips–.

I do this with a disclaimer: 
I am not a professional photographer,  and I could name about 6 people of the top of my head (Jennifer Young, Bonnie Tsang, Annie McElwain, Dabito, Jen Lauren Grant, Teri Lyn Fisher…) who would be better suited than me to do this post– HOWEVER– photography is such an vital part of art direction, blogging, and so many other things that I do everyday that I have some tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way that make my photos look cooler, and they might make yours look cooler too–so here goes nothin’:

1.0 iphone
About 85% of the photos that you see here on the blog that were taken by me were taken on my iphone.  {The other 15% were taken on my Canon Rebel TI or my Canon G10 (both great cameras, BTW).}

1.1 focus
I was excited to learn that if you hold your finger down on the screen of the iphone you can focus on specific things on the screen. That eliminates that camera-phone fuzziness and creates depth to the photos.

1.2 Flash = no no
For whatever reason, the flash always makes my photos look cheesy– so I don’t use it.

1.3 Light
You know how I said that if you hold your finger down on the screen you can focus? Well, you can also change the light in your image. If you find the darkest spot on the screen and hold down on it with one finger, the light adjusts and the whole picture gets lighter.

2.0 iphone apps 
There are a lot of apps that I use to make my photos look that much better.

2.1 Cross Process
My all-time favorite app for pics is CrossProcess. It just makes photos look more awesome. Period.

2.2 Instagram
Instagram is a image sharing platform on iphone that has some great effects that you can add to your photos– but my favorite effect is the Tilt Shift which allows you to blur out certain areas of your photos. If you look at my photo above see how the leaves in the upper left are blurry? Ya, that’s Tilt Shift.

2.3 idarkroom
I darkroom has all of the effects rolled into one app.  It also allows you to add bokeh–those light spots/out of focus areas on the picture–which is my favorite feature of the app.

3.0 Framing
I look around the perimeter–the ‘four walls’ of the photo to check my framing before I snap–am I including all that I want? Am I excluding all that I want? How’s my angle?  I also remember that I can always crop if I need to– but I can’t add image, so I try and leave extra space around the borders.

4.0 Lighting
I always look for great natural light. It just makes photos look better. Usually that means waiting for the right time of day to take my shots–and photos as different times of day create different moods. Or, if I;m taking more spontaneous pictures, this may mean moving around (higher or lower, to the left or to the right) to find the right spot with the best light.

5.0 Styling
Now styling is something that I do have professional experience in, and I’m not gonna lie, good styling helps pictures look *way* better. Learning about proportion, balance, angles and color in styling is one of those things that comes with practice– and one great thing about digital is that you can take a picture, assess what’s working and what’s not, move items around, and try again.

5.1 Styling Tips
-Less is more so start with a lot and then edit, edit, edit.
-Don’t make things look too perfect– a slouchy bag near a desk, a messy throw on a bed, a pair of worn-in shoes lying on the floor near the couch– this is hat makes photos look real and compelling, I think.
-Look for a story– what do you want your image to convey? Think about the story or concept behind your photos and you’ll start to get better at conveying a visual message.

So those are my tips– I hope you found them to be useful. I feel like I have so much to learn still and I would love to hear your photography tips or tricks if you have any! Any great apps you’d like to share, or some other function on the iphone that I don’t know about? Spill the beans and let’s all become better photographers (and bloggers!) together!!

Justina Blakeney Justina Blakeney

Designer, artist, stylist & mama. Founder and CCO at The Jungalow. Crazy for color, pattern and plants!

18 responses to “I am not a photographer…”

  1. Ok, this is very useful (so I’ve marked it as like). Now, I only need an iPhone ;)


  2. melina bee says:

    remember the exposure triangle: ISO (which is the film’s sensitivity to light); aperture (size of opening in camera that lets in light) and shutter speed (how long said opening is left open to capture light). If you remember and manipulate those three elements, you can control the lighting in your photo. I agree, flash is generally not good when it is directly on the subject (makes it look flat) a trick is to put the camera on the “continuous” setting and snap a bunch of pix in a row. most likely, the first couple and last photos will be blurry, but you can get a nice clear one somewhere in the middle. tripods are also extremely handy.

  3. Thanks for the helpful tips, Justina! I mostly use my iPhone and Instagram for snaps at home and on-the-go. However, plan to get a DSLR soon. Cheers from Munich, Igor xoxo

  4. @anne-charlotte ya, I know– kinda an iphone-centric post ;P

    @Melina — Yes!! Lov all this! Thanks for the tips!!

    @Igor – yes– the DSLR is my next purchase too– too good!!

  5. great tips! helpful for taking iphone pics
    happy 2012! x kat

  6. I love this post, J. Such good tips and explained so well! You have a beautiful eye…!!

  7. Kim Anderson says:

    This helped me tremendously. I downloaded Cross Process and idarkroom immediately. Launching my vintage boutique on Etsy and was having total anxiety over photographing because…well…I’m seriously NOT a photog either. I’m a makeup artist. Thanks so much for this. I spent the last hour playing with photography bouncing between my Nikon and my iphone…in all sorts of natural lighting. Love!

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