Let’s face it… We all love Instagram and the millions of pretty images put out on any given day. A little over a year ago I remember scrolling through Instagram thinking HOW do these people have such pretty feeds with photos that they took on their phone? My pictures looked pretty much horrible in comparison ha! Then one of my photographer friends told me about the app Pic Tap Go. With this little gem of a tip, plus studying images from my favorite photographers (not what was actually in the image, but the lighting, composition, etc), and reading up on a handful of articles, my phones photos began to take a major shift.
Now, I am not claiming to be a professional teaching photographer by any means, but I know a slew of creatives who need to present their products, services and ideas beautifully to connect with their ideal clients and customers on a daily basis… And I just happen to know how to do it with the help of how easy Pic Tap Go is to work with. So I am going to show you how step by step. Get that phone out girl and let’s get to work!
*Pic Tap Go is only available for the iPhone. I switched from Android to the iPhone just for this app! But if you are an Android lover, there are apps like Afterlight and VSCO that people rave about. I haven’t spent much time in either of those options, but may do so soon for my Android friends.
3 Tips to Take Better Phone Images:
Find Even Natural Light – This is by and large the most important step to taking better images on your phone. This means you need to turn off those light bulbs, find a window where natural sunlight pours in, or even go out onto your back porch (or your front covered porch, but by experience, you will feel crazy and think everyone is looking at you ha!). The key word here is even. To get to what is even, I will explain what isn’t even. Imagine you are next to a tree with the sun shining brightly and no clouds in sight. You are in the shadow of the tree to stay cool. Now look at the ground. See that shadow and how you can see bits of bright sunlight peeking through in lots of little spots around the shadows of the leaves? That is uneven light. A mix of shadow and light. Now this is an extreme example, but the point is you want to find a fully covered spot so that your images aren’t blown out from bright sunlight or spotty from uneven shadows. When you are looking at your screen in camera mode, look out for even lighting and coloring. If one side of your screen looks darker and more harsh than the other, you don’t have even light. If the elements in your pictures (products, people, objects, etc) are creating large shadows, either shift what you are taking the picture on or move to another location. *Don’t drive yourself too nutty about shadows, though. They are natural and create a little depth. You just want to steer away from really harsh shadows that full on sunlight creates. If you follow this step, you will be halfway there to better phone images!
Know your Frame – I say this mostly in regards to social posting for your images. If you are a square girl over on Instagram, go ahead and change your frame to the square mode before snapping the pic. It will allow you to compose the elements of your picture to look their best in the frame of your choice.
Tweak the Exposure – Aka the brightness of your image. You can do this two ways. Newer iPhone software allows you to tap and hold on the point you want to focus on and a little sun icon will pop up to the right of the focus box. You can then slide the sun icon up or down to brighten or darken your image as needed. I personally do it the older school way because I think it works better. Instead of choosing what spot I want to focus on, I tap on the darkest area of the frame. This will immediately up the brightness of the image. Sometimes it makes the image way too bright, so I just tap a little closer to a brighter portion of the frame. It is a little game of trial and error, but once you do it a couple times, it will become second nature. If I have learned anything from my photographer friends, it is to shoot your image correctly before you go to post processing (aka editing) and your images will look much better in the end!
Now in a perfect world, you would always have the best lighting and shooting conditions, but le sigh. That isn’t real life. So there are editing apps like Pic Tap Go that can save the day. I even use it when my lighting and coloring is picture perfect to keep things consistent and pretty.
How to Edit Photos with Pic Tap Go:
Step 1 – Open the Pic Tap Go App and select the picture you want to edit.
I literally cringe in showing you this original snap!! This shoot was taken in my daughter’s room. By the time we got to the styling of the board portion, my natural lighting was not so great, but to keep the scene consistent we had to go with it! So I shot this photo in a poorly lit room and my board had more prominent shadows than I normally like. But I would rather show you how great Pic Tap Go can be with a real world picture since not every snap can be in the most perfect of settings!
Step 2 – If you need to alter the frame ratio for social posting, crop your image or straighten it out at all, select the crop icon (the little icon immediately to the right of the “Pic Tap Go” logo at the top) and fix your picture as needed. Hit Apply once you are finished with cropping to save the changes. **If you need to go back and readjust any changes you made, simply hit the crop icon again later. It saves the size and ratio of the original image captured even after you begin applying filters.
Step 3 – Scroll down and start adding filters! This is SO easy. Select a filter of your choice and Pic Tap Go allows you to alter the strength of the filter on a sliding scale. To keep your photos consistent, I suggest picking a collection of your favorite filters and using that combination regularly. Pic Tap Go allows you to save “recipes” of your favorite filters, but I personally don’t use this feature. Using recipes created do not allow you to alter the strength of individual filters, but rather the recipe altogether as one “filter,” and depending on the shooting conditions (lighting, coloring and etc.) I may need to alter each separately. The filters I use with pretty much each photo are Lights On, Cool it Down, Shadows, and Air. Sometimes I will use Crispity in small doses if I am highlighting something black or handwritten as it makes blacks pop better. For the few times I want to see a black and white version of an image, I always choose Powder. Here is a peek at my exact editing process:
Pic Tap Go has a ton of filters to choose from!
For my full color images, I always hit Lights On first. This brightens up your image. You may be scratching your head thinking, well why do I have to work with the exposure before snapping the picture? Again it goes back to shooting correctly and how that makes editing go smoother and create a better final product. You will just have to trust me on this one 😉
Next I hit Cool it Down, especially if I am shooting on a white board as it helps make your whites look really white. This one is KEY if you can’t shoot in natural light. It will literally work wonders on photos taken in harsh yellow lighting, but again, the final outcome is much better with photos taken originally in natural light.
Next up I hit Shadows. This helps to tone down any darker spots created by shadows, but be careful with this one as it makes any darker colors and eyes look grainy. I use this in fairly small strengths.
Lastly I hit Air. This is an additional brightening filter, but sometimes can make bright colors look a little neon. I use it to just give a small boost to my images and keep all my IG photos consistent.
*Another really popular filter is Fade to Gray. This casts a slight gray tone to your images and if used in small strengths, can make your photos feel nice and creamy. I used to use this, but it doesn’t work well with my bright and colorful brand.
Step 4 – When you are satisfied with how your image looks, hit Go! From the Go menu, you can send your photo straight to Instagram or your fave social medium, save it to your camera roll (this creates a copy in case you want the original for later use!), and a slew of other options.
Step 5 – Do a little happy dance now that you are well on your way to a collection of awesome looking photos!
Well there you have it! Now get to snapping photos, girl and tag me on Insta @meganmartincreative with your new skills!
Photos of me styling taken by Red October Photography.