How To Take The Perfect Photo


If you've ever scrolled through your Instagram feed and wondered when everyone became such good photographers, we can help! We asked two of our favorite 'gram masters for some quick and easy tips to make your photos look professional. Read on for editing secrets, go-to tools, and the biggest mistake you can make...


Alexandra English

Alex

Alexandra English is a Boston-based blogger and @itsalexandraenglish on Instagram.
Illustration by @astclaire.

What is the quickest/easiest way to make a photo look better?
My biggest tip for making a photo look better is to focus on lighting - bright, even lighting with no shadows is key for taking a good photo. When in doubt, move to an area near a window and move your shot frame around until you have a nice bright blanket over your photo.

What are three tools you use to edit your photos?
I use Color Story to edit my photos right on my phone - this app allows you to save a filter and editing steps so that you have a similar feel to all your photos. AfterLight is also a great app if you want to get a little more creative with your photos right from your phone. But when I want to print large scale, frame, or give a photograph as a gift, I use Adobe Photo Elements on my MacBook.

Alex


Is there anything specific you do when editing a photo for print?
I always make sure the light and contrast of the photo is optimized for print. To me, that means that the lights are bright and the darks are rich - taking a high contrast editing approach to print can turn even the most mundane portrait into a really beautiful "artsy" feeling print. 

I'm sure you take hundreds of photos, how do you choose which photo to post on social media?
I care a lot about angles and light. I tend to favor a bright, crisp flat lay composition, or focusing in on details that otherwise get lost in pictures. Generally, before I even start taking a photo, i try to think through the composition I am hoping to capture. Then, I just keep snapping and making small adjustments to the photo, the angle I'm shooting at, etc. until I finally capture the look I've envisioned. 

Alex


How do you set up to shoot a photo?
The first thing is to find a light and bright area to shoot in. Then, it's about a contrasting background - that could mean a white rug, marble countertop, or newspaper depending on what you are trying to capture. Third is setting up your shot focus - placing that iced coffee perfectly in the frame or getting your dog to wink at just the right moment. Last, is click until it sticks, and take as many photos as you need to until you capture the one you really love. The great thing about digital / iPhone shooting is that you're not wasting film by taking 1,000 pictures of the same thing, which I've been known to do, especially when my dog is in the shot. 

Do you have any specific quirky things you do when taking a photo?
I talk to myself - I think it helps me think about the composition, focus on what I'm trying to capture, and be flexible through the process of getting to the right picture.

Alex


What do you photograph the most?
My 'big three' are my dog, doughnuts, and iced coffee - basically the three things that keep me smiling all day, every day. 

What is the biggest mistake you see other people make when taking photos?
Forgetting about light! Often times I'll see a great shot that appears "amateur-esque" because of the lack of contrast, brightness, and glow. Think about how the light impacts your composition and you will instantly take a better picture, which makes posting, printing, or gifting a whole lot easier.

Follow Alexandra on Instagram @itsalexandraenglish.



Haley Ward


Haley


Haley Ward is a fashion and travel Instagrammer based in North Carolina. Follow her on Instagram @someweartobe.

What is the quickest/easiest way to make a photo look better?
One of the quickest ways to make a photo look better is lighting. Moving over a few feet or choosing a different side of the room to take a picture can make the world of a difference!

What are three tools you use to edit your photos?
Three of my favorite tools to edit photos are brightening, sharpening, and warmth. These 3 easy tools can make a low quality photo look more professional!

Haley


Is there anything specific you do when editing a photo for print?
When editing a photo for print, I always make sure the orientation will be good for the print (square, horizontal, etc.).

I'm sure you take hundreds of photos, how do you choose which photo to post on social media?
When selecting which photos to post and when to post them, I like to mix it up and try to not do multiple similar photos in a row. Instagram planning apps really help with this!

Haley


How do you set up to shoot a photo?
I don’t know if I necessarily “set up” photos, but I definitely try to think of background, object of focus, colors, mood, etc.

Do you have any specific quirky things you do when taking a photo?
Something quirky I do when taking photos is doing a burst with my iPhone camera. Holding down the burst and trying different poses always ensures that I’ll get a good photo and sometimes great candids!

Haley


What do you photograph the most?
I love to photograph outfits and clothes since my Instagram is mainly about style and fashion.

What is the biggest mistake you see other people make when taking photos?
The biggest mistake I see people make when it comes to photos is editing. Too much editing can be even worse than no editing. Less is more sometimes! 

Follow Haley on Instagram @someweartobe.