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How I Make My Smartphone Photos Look Professional

Updated: Apr 18



Today I decided to show you how I edit my Instagram and blog photos! I get questions on what I use to take the shots and how I edit them. I'll go over my completely free editing process, a few tips to getting the perfect shot, and the photos you should take to grow your Instagram. Enjoy!


How to Get Pro-Looking Photos on Your Smartphone:

Many people think that in order to get good photos, you need to have them professionally done or need to be a pro yourself with an expensive camera. But you really only need your smartphone!

I'm not planning to be a pro by any means, but I've been able to take and edit photos on a phone for free...and I'm pretty proud of them. If your lens is clean, you have someone to take your photos or are prepared to take them yourself, and have a subject in mind, all you need to do is take your shot and edit it.


VSCO: the App to Get

If you don't already on VSCO, get it! It's the best free editing app that I've found. You can get the app for free on your photo. Using premium allows you more filters and to edit videos, but these combinations use only the free filters and work great.


How I Edit


This is the edit "recipe" I use most to edit my photos! It makes them vibrant without being garish, like most filters on the editing section of Instagram.


#1: Apply the Filter


The first step I do is apply the free VSCO filter C1. Because I thought the colors were too bright at 10 for this photo, I only set the filter at +8.4. Some days I will apply the filter nearly all the way and sometimes I'll only use it a little. It all depends on your photograph and what look you're going for. I'll talk more about theming your feed later on.


#2: Up the Exposure


My second step while editing my photos is to adjust the exposure. If I'm taking an indoor shot later in the day, I will set the exposure level at much higher. However, this was a sunny day and I took it early in the morning, so I only increased it by +0.8.


#3: Sharpen the Photo


My last step to edit this type of photo is to sharpen it. Sharpening is often subtle, but when you see the before and after, I like how it makes the photo look polished and clear.


The Before Shot:


The After Shot:


Why do you use the same filter most of the time?

There are two reasons that I tend to repeat this editing "recipe" with my photos. Number one is that I just love the way they turn out! Number two is that it's important that your photos have the same feel to them. This is how you get your Instagram feed looking consistent and aesthetic and how you keep your website polished. If you have a consistent editing process, people will look at the photos you've taken and know they're yours.


So how do I decide on my style?

The decision on how you want your photos to look isn't very forced. Start out by discovering what you like, what you think your viewers will like, and how you want your photos to reflect your brand.

For me, I like the way bright and airy photos look. My blog is cheery, so I knew I wanted to stay away from moody and dark filters. Based on where I live and the things I post, my feed doesn't have an abundance of outside or dark places. I had more of a mix of indoor and outdoor, sometimes with faces, sometimes not. Knowing that I had a variety of types of photos arrowing down what kinds of things I would post helped me decide on the filters to use.


A few final words on getting the most out of phone photography:

  1. Make sure your camera lens is clean. Any photo you take with a smudged lens won't turn out well!

  2. Natural light nearly always photographs well. Opt for the times of day where you have lots of lighting. When the sun isn't shining, get light sources such as lamps and professional reflectors to help with indoor shots.

  3. Play with your clothes. If someone is taking a photo of you, I find that it helps to play with your clothing in different ways to make the photo feel more natural. For example, I like wearing dresses in photos because you can play with and twirl in the skirts.

  4. Keep a few poses or expressions in mind. Chances are, whoever is taking your photo isn't a pro and doesn't want to spend an hour taking your photo. Before asking them to take the shot, get a few ideas of different poses so they're not waiting long. You can browse Instagram and see how people you love are posing for ideas.


I hope you enjoyed this blog post! Let me know if you have any more blog post questions or posts that you would like me to write. You can always leave me a message on my contact page if you have a question, want to chat, or are a new blogger looking for advice. Ciao, Zoe.


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