Hi friends! Happy Wednesday!  Today, we are looking at how to take your own photos using your phone, because it is a question I get asked about often.  If you struggle to come up with content for your social media, these tips will help you to always have photos ready to go.

People frequently ask, “does Eric take your photos?”  While he is, begrudgingly, a great Insta husband, he does not take the majority of my photos.  Some, yes, like this one…

But the majority, no.  You know who takes them?  ME!  Maybe it’s something I acquired from my days as a “one man band” television reporter (that’s what it’s called when you work for a small TV station and you have to shoot, edit, and report all of your own footage).  That gig taught me that the majority of things in life are “do yourself-able!” 

How to get those “do yourself-able” pictures!

When I started blogging and “influencing” I quickly learned that being able to take your own photos was a skill you needed to have.  Bonus points if you are actually a photographer that can work shutter speeds and know how to edit, but I am not.  Sure, I could hire a photographer to take all of my pictures but that is really expensive and time consuming, not to mention unrealistic.  You want your social space to be authentically you.  My fear was that if I had the majority of my photos shot by a professional then it would look weird when I wanted to add in one of my own.  So, instead I take 90% of my photos and every now and then I will use a professional photographer.   I am a huge proponent of using photographers from time to time, especially when you need quality shots.  But, for your every day feed, here is how to take your own photos.  All you need are a few tools and some creative ingenuity.

Tip #1:  Use a tripod and self timer on your phone or a bluetooth clicker that comes with most tripods.

See this picture here…

I took this this weekend by myself using a basic tripod I ordered off of Amazon and the clicker it came with.  You don’t see the clicker until the second picture.

This is where you have to get a little creative.  In most cases, you can get away with hiding the clicker behind a cup, prop or in your pocket like I did below.  When in doubt, put it in your pocket.

A Close Look At The Equipment.

Now, it those instances I used a standard tripod with adjustable legs for varying heights.   I also have this one with bendable legs.  I highly recommend both.  The one with bendable legs is great for wrapping around things like a ceiling fan to grab shots like this one…

I’ve also been known to wrap it around the stroller handle or railings, as was the case in the picture below one day at the park (and again, hand in pocket, on clicker).

It truly comes down to just getting a little creative.  If you don’t have a hand to click the clicker you can always use a toe, which is what I did in this picture.  The clicker is on the ground and I’m legit hitting it with my toe.

If the clicker isn’t an option then simply use the self timer on your phone.  That is a little less than ideal because you only get one picture at a time, whereas with the clicker you can get several and switch up your poses.  That is nice because there is a greater likelihood that one of the shots will work.  Here’s a self timer shot.

It took a few tries and I totally lucked out with the breeze blowing my hair at just the right time.  So self timer is awesome, and bonus if Mother Nature is on your side.  Now, what if you don’t have your tripod?  This happens a lot when you are traveling or out and about by yourself and see a photo op?  That leads to my next tip.

Use Your Creativity!

Tip #2:  Prop your phone on something!

As was the case in this next photo, I had just gotten my hair done and was feeling a selfie to chat about how I keep my hair healthy after getting it colored.  But ahh, I didn’t have my tripod.  Not to worry, use a tree!

Yep, that’s right.  This picture was shot with my phone propped up in a tree and with the 3 second self timer.  Oh, and tip #3 helped too….

Tip #3:  Portrait Mode

Portrait mode can truly make any shot instantly look more professional.  It’s not always necessary or good to use but most times for self pictures, it works awesome!

Tip #4:  Don’t be afraid to take a long arm selfie or mirror pic!

So many people think every photo has to be a beautiful, staged or semi professional looking image.  While that is nice, you can certainly have a mirror or stretched arm selfie from time to time.  If it’s adding value and showing something people want to see, they won’t care.  Here’s an example.

In the above case, I had done a try-on session and was showing how an outfit looked in real life versus on a model on the website.  In those instances no one cares if I’m in a dressing room or out in front of an awesome backdrop.  You shouldn’t make every outfit shot a mirror selfie but from time to time they are fine.

Think Like A Photographer!

Tip #5:  Use presets!

Unless you are already a photographer (which I doubt you are or why would you be reading this?) then chances are you are like me and don’t know a lick about editing a photo.  Well guess what?  That’s most of us!  Luckily,  photographers have caught wind of this and many have developed presets you can buy and apply to your photos.  They are a total game changer!  You download them (most are used within the Lightroom Mobile app) and with one click you apply them to your picture and adjust settings as needed.  They are so easy to use and make your pictures instantly look professional.  You can find them on sale and reasonably priced all over social media or Etsy. 

What I love most about them, aside from making my pictures look better, is that they allow me to have a color scheme and can be on brand with the look you are going for.  There are dark ones, color tinted ones, and my personal favorite, light, bright, and airy!  Here’s an example of a photo with and without the preset (and using portrait mode).

Tip #6: Shoot in natural light!

I don’t know much about golden hours or the exact best times for shooting, but what I do know is that natural light is better than artificial.  If you’re doing a selfie, position yourself in front of a window.  If a window is behind you, you will be back lit and dark.  You want the light hitting you from the front.

When you are outside however, natural light can actually be tricky and time of day does play a huge role.  Dark, rainy days don’t equal the best pictures but neither do super sunny.  I’ve heard photographers say they hate really sunny days and now I see why.  Unless you know what you’re doing it’s hard to make bright sun work in your favor and it creates weird shadows.  Ideally, shade is best when outside.  Here’s an example of a picture shot it bright sunlight.

See how harsh and bright it is and how my shadow is behind me?  Now here is a picture in the shade, that turned out much better.

Tip #7:  When all else fails, ask someone for help!

I would say that you can take 80-90% of your photos.  But there are definitely going to be those that require someone else.  Lets face it, it’s definitely more work to do it yourself.  But, you do get better with practice.

What About Your Friends?

When I have certain shots I simply don’t feel like putting the effort into setting up to do myself I will save those and batch my content and pick a day when Eric is home and have him do them.  It’s faster and I can easily direct him to get the shot I’m after.  Or, sometimes I’ll save an outfit I know I want to show in front of a cool background and I’m too embarrassed to lug my tripod out in public and pose for the shot.  In those instances I simply tell Eric, “hey, we need to grab a picture quick when we are out, and then we can be done and enjoy ourselves,” and he typically obliges.

When all else fails, grab some friends who also need photos and content shoot together!  This past weekend my friend Jen (of Jen Finds The Good) enlisted the help of her 11 year daughter for a Valentine’s giveaway we are doing along with Steph from Steph Style 101.  Now, we did shoot this with a DSLR camera, but look how good her 11 year old did!

So never be afraid to enlist the help of others, ask a stranger to take it, or grab some gals and have a day of shooting.  This is one of my favorite ideas because you are often able to get enough shots to last for several posts.

Photographers Don’t Have To Break the Bank!

Again,  if I have a paid collaboration or something I know I need really good photos for then I will often use a photographer.  But even then you don’t have to get crazy expensive.  Simply tell the photographer you want a quick little shoot and how many pictures you are looking to get out of it (maybe set up an hour or two and change outfits to batch content) or, look for a photographer just starting out looking to gain experience.  I have done that twice now and had great results! 

The left was shot by my friend Marina and the right by my friend Ellen.  Both were looking to build their portfolio and shot these for free.  It’s a total win/win. 

Okay friends, that does it!  Just some tips and tricks for how to take your own photos with your phone, so you don’t have to stress over content.  At the end of the day it’s all supposed to be fun and enjoyable so make it your own.  If you don’t have the budget or time to meet with a professional photographer to get your pictures, then just know that with a little creativity and patience, you are 100% capable of taking your own pictures.



xo, Jill
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