This is part three of my blog series Blog Photography 101. If you missed the first two posts, you can read them here and here.
I’m so glad to see you all back here! Today I am tackling how to edit photos like a pro with your smartphone. I will be using my iPhone 5’s native photo editor for this post, but all of the steps that I am showing you today can be done with a host of other photo editing software apps like Snapseed, VSCO Cam, and even the Instagram app itself!
Have you ever looked at your feed in Instagram and said, “There is no way that was taken with a phone!”? I know I did a lot when I first discovered Instagram. In comparison, the photos that I was taking were dull, bland, and definitely looked like a phone camera snapshot instead of art. Being a busy mom on the go, I loved the portability of having a camera with me 24/7 to capture and document my life without lugging around my bulky DSLR but the images I took were constantly leaving me disappointed.
Some of this was due to the way I was taking the pictures. If you have read my first two posts in this series, you know there are a number of different ways that the settings on your phone and the way you approach your shot can impact your final image. However, a lot of what was standing in between me and having those frame worthy shots on my phone was the way that I edited them.
As a default, images taken with a phone are dull and muted. They really need some help bringing the life out of them. Below is my little recipe for creating more depth and life to my images.
The first thing I do after I open an image in the editor is turn down the highlights partway. This tones down the brightest parts of the image. Next, I turn up the shadows, which lightens up the darker parts of the image. These two steps will open up the middle tones of your photo and really start to make the photo pop.
After that if it still needs a little something, I tweak the brightness and contrast (black point in the iPhone editor) up a bit until I get the range of dark and light tones that I am looking for. A little bit goes a long way with these sliders though so nudge these a little at a time.
Finally, I apply some sharpening in either Instagram (if I am posting there) or another photo editor like VSCO Cam since the iPhone editor does not offer that feature.
All in all, it takes me about 30 extra seconds to go through these editing steps before uploading it to my blog or favorite social media platform, but the impact is crazy! I hope these tips will help you love your smartphone photos as much as learning them has helped me to love mine. Capturing those special and those everyday moments in-between is not something that I could do without 🙂
I’ve shown you mine, now its time for you to show me yours! I would love to see some before and after images. Send me a link in the comments or post them on my Facebook page. I hope to see some soon!
Hi Desiree. Thank you so much for this article. I love taking photos with my phone, as you say it is so much easier than carting the DSLR around. These tips seem really easy and straightforward and make a big difference.
I can’t wait to try them out.
Thanks for reading! I would love to see some before and afters when you try this 🙂
Super helpful! Thanks!
Sometimes I think the tipping point for me getting a smart phone will be the camera. Thanks for these tips. I think some of them will apply to some of my other pictures too.
Hi Sara! Thanks for stopping by! This is the same formula that I use in my computer’s photo editing software to edit my DSLR pictures so I’m sure it will apply to you even without a smartphone.