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How to take better pictures with your iPhone!

How to take better pictures with your iPhone!

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last decade or so, you are probably well aware that cellphone photography is here to stay. The battle for the best "cellphone camera" heats up with each successive device release, as Google's recent Pixel phone and Apple's iPhone 7 both illustrate. Recent estimates put the number of cellphone photos taken per year at 1 TRILLION. I mean, that's a LOT of photos. Everyone owns a smartphone with a camera and sharing those photos to the web has never been easier. No wonder we take so many photos these days!

So why are there so many mediocre pictures being shared on the internet?! We take WAY more pictures than we ever used to, and yet it seems, instead of our photos getting better, we just keep posting the same dog/cat/kid/sunset/selfie photo over and over again. Can we just take a minute to be honest here...most of the stuff we see online is kinda blah.

Most people whip out their phones and just hit the button and don't think twice about it! We understand that not everyone has the time to invest in lighting courses, composition seminars, exposure triangle tutorials, or advanced editing techniques. But that doesn't mean your phone photos have to suck! So instead of you investing tons of hours and dollars to learn loads of super fancy photo techniques, we have decided to share a few quick tips so that you can take better photos with your iPhone!

1. Use tap to focus.

Let's be honest, in most modern cellphones, the autofocus does a pretty good job. But using tap to focus (especially in difficult lighting conditions) helps the camera decide where to place the emphasis of the photo. More than helping to adjust the actual "focusing" or sharpness of your subject, tap to focus gives the camera more information about how to adjust the exposure (brightness) and contrast of the image to give you a better photo. Go ahead and test it out. Have your subject (kid/dog/family member) stand in front of a strong light source like the sun or a bright lamp. Let the camera autofocus and see what happens. Usually the person's face will be too dark to see. If you tap to focus on their face, the camera adjusts it's settings to the subject and the end result is better light on the face and a better overall picture! Keep in mind, this isn't foolproof and your cellphone still might struggle in difficult situations, but it can help a lot of the time!

2. Compose your image...don't just take a "snapshot!"

If you are around photographers for any length of time, you will hear them say something like "Composition is key." The fact of the matter is, the best equipment in the world can't create a beautiful picture by itself. Most photographers realize that composing a picture properly is much more important than the equipment used to take the photo. And guess what?! That little device in your hand is a CAMERA. It takes photos...and photographs need to be COMPOSED properly. So what can you do? Two simple things can really help you compose better images.

First, use the "rule of thirds" grid that comes on most camera apps. On your iPhone, you can turn this on in Settings>Photos & Camera>Grid. This will overlay a grid on top of the scene as you take your photo. Use the grid to your advantage by simply placing your subject (typically whatever it was you tapped to focus on earlier) at the cross-section of one of the points of the grid.  A lot of times, this will help you follow the "rule of thirds" and, for most simple images, will help your photos to have a better composition. This isn't a hard a fast rule, but in most instances utilizing the rule of thirds is more pleasing to the eye (thus creating a better photo) than whipping out your phone throwing the thing you're taking a picture of in the middle of the screen and tapping the button.

Second, pay attention to what's in the picture!! Or to put it another way, look at what's on the whole screen! Every photo contains a foreground, mid-ground, and background. These are important concepts and we could spend a whole blog post on each one, but for simplicity's sake just pay attention to what's on the WHOLE SCREEN. Take a half second to look at what's in front of and behind your subject.  A lot of times we whip out our phones to take a picture, and we are solely focused on the person's face on the screen and waiting for the "smile" moment. The problem is, if you aren't paying attention, you could miss the light pole or tree growing out of the person's head because you were too focused on their face and didn't pay attention to what was behind them! As important as catching your subject at the right moment is, it is all for nothing if there's a big distracting thing right in front or behind them!

3. Take one minute to edit your photos!

We know what you're thinking...we aren't asking you to run all your iPhone photos through Photoshop. Nobody has time for that! But, there are so many other quick options for editing photos on your phone now, that ANYONE, at ANY skill level, can spend (literally) 30-60 seconds to make their photos look better. A simple editing principle to always remember is: you edit to enhance your photos not fix your photos. No amount of editing will make a bad photo look good. But a little bit of editing can make a good photo look great. Here are a few options you can use depending on your skill level...

An example of the power of editing.

For the beginner, VSCO, Afterlight, or PicTapGo are great options. These are great because they add simple films and don't require a lot of technical knowledge to get a decent result. Each app is a little different so it really just depends what look you want! Just be careful because most of these "simpler" options can look overdone if used excessively. Also, don't forget iOS has some basic editing options built right into your Photos App. So if you don't want to download (or pay for) a new app, just open your photo, and tap the three lines next to the trash can and explore the editing options!

For the intermediate/advanced photographer, Snapseed is OUR OVERALL FAVORITE mobile photo editor. It's a little more complicated and does require a little bit more technical knowledge, but even applying a few basic adjustments in Snapseed (the Tune Image and Details modules are our favorites) makes your photo really stand out! More advanced photographers will love the Selective Adjust module to really take their images to the next level!

For the super-intense, highly-advanced, semi-professional....Lightroom Mobile is a high quality, desktop level editor that we love! This app is not for the faint of heart and does require some significant know-how. But for those with the expertise, it really can transform a good photo into a great one!

We love taking pictures but more importantly we want our clients to have beautiful gorgeous "post-worthy" pictures ALL THE TIME...even when just snapping photos with their phones! We can't be with you on your family vacations (although you can take us if you want to, we won't object) or at the ballet recitals or soccer games where you take all your photos. But if you follow these few simple tips, you can take better photos with your phone and have photos you're proud of, even when we can't be there to take them for you!

Fri-yay! Weekly Recap #15!

Fri-yay! Weekly Recap #15!

We are here to serve up another weekly dose of random facts from Megan and James Land that we just want you to know about! Basically we do these recaps so you don't have to Facebook-stalk us all week like a bunch of weirdos! Although, we are total Facebook-stalkers too, so I guess we'll jump on board the weirdo train with y'all and enjoy the ride!  

First off, Eli had his first soccer game of the season last weekend. Poor guy was recovering from a cold/virus/death-plague/James Earl Jones as Darth Vader voiceover kinda thing, but he still went out and gave it his best! His team won 4-0 which was fun to watch and he thought it was the best thing ever. He didn't score goal, but there may or may not be a $5 pay out if he does this week. In other news, children's sports are always such a refining process for the parents. I keep reliving my old soccer days and trying to help but then I get scowled at and told to "be quiet" by my kid. Doesn't he know I'm just trying to help??

Second fun Fri-yay fact...this weekend were getting our family photos done and I've been in stress mode trying to find outfits for everyone. I try my hardest to follow all my rules, especially the one about not stressing out, but somehow I still found myself running through 3 stores the other day in the 45 minutes I had until the kids got off school to find just the right shirts for the boys and dresses in the right sizes. In the end though, I only bought Eli's shirt and Olivia's dress, pretty good if you ask me! 


Speaking of what to wear, this week we finished up our final blog post in our series "What to wear Wednesdays." It was all about letting your kids personality shine through in your photos. We love kids, we love their spunk, and we want to see it on camera! We also talked about the importance of matching your outfit colors to your house colors. Pretty genius if you ask us! When you get your photos back and you put them up on your walls, it becomes your art in your home. You invested time and money into it, so you should be proud to throw those beautiful images up on your walls! We want to make it easy on our clients to figure out what to wear so if you want a copy of our Portrait Session Style Guide we would love to send it to you! Just write us at hello@meganandjamesphotography or sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of our homepage and we will gladly send it your way! It's our free gift to you just for signing up! 

That's it for now! We have another exciting weekend ahead with soccer games, weddings, and sessions. It's going to be a good one! Be safe and have a great weekend! 

What to Wear Wednesday 3rd Edition

What to Wear Wednesday 3rd Edition

It's mid-week, so you know what that means...What to wear Wednesday is back to help you know what to wear so you can look your best without the stress! If you missed the first two installments of our little blog mini-series, the first edition is here and the second edition is here. Today we have a few more tips to help you look fabulous for your photo session. So let's get right to it, shall we?

Layers, layers, and more layers...YES even in Arizona! When you wear layers, it creates visual interest and dimension to your photo. Pick out a fun scarf for your dress, or a vest for your hubby.  Sweaters with layered shirts not only gives you the chance to include a coordinating color but it also adds an extra bit of “pop” to an outfit making it more visually appealing.  A great fitted jacket can add so much dimension to an outfit, whether it be for your husband or you! You can also add a bow tie and suspenders, the possibilities are endless! 

*Likewise, using accessories like necklaces, bows, hats, or bracelets adds texture and helps make the photo go from "blah" to beautiful. I love finding a big chunky necklace in a fun color for my photo shoots. You can find some classy, affordable options at Charming Charlies or Forever 21! Also, don't be afraid to check out your local Goodwill, you'd be surprised what you can find! While you’re there get one for your daughter, I guarantee she will love it too! 

* Speaking of your daughter, bows and headbands are perfect for adding more style and personality to your kiddos. They give you one more way to add a color for pop or you can make it match and really tie the whole outfit together. Make sure the bow isn’t too big. We don't want it to distract from her beautiful face...sometimes going big isn’t always better! 

*Finally, no white sneakers or running shoes! Wear shoes that you love! Shoes that have bright colors really add some personality. Classy, vintage, or solid color canvas shoes like Converse can be good options if you're looking for footwear that's comfortable but still looks good on camera. You can also choose a great pair of distressed boots, colorful ballet flats, high heels, sandals with straps, or platforms, and don't be afraid to show your personality!  

Here's a great example of a sweet family that integrated layers and colors into their clothes.  Big sister is wearing big boots and a vest with that fun “pop” of color. Baby brother is wearing a sweater to create more layers. You can see their colors, blue, tan and gray with that “pop” of maroon. Mom also has a great necklace and a hat in some of the photos! 

 See!! It doesn’t have to be fancy or hard to figure out. This mom said her daughter wanted to wear that outfit so she built everyone else's off of it! No fuss and no stress! It really can be done! 

Come back next week because we have more!! We really do want to help you have a stress free experience, so if there is anything you need please let us know! We still have some spots left, although we are filling up fast! Contact us for dates this fall, we can't wait to see all of you!