Ad Age Photography #PROTIPS

How Do You Snap Great Shots?

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Everyone with a smartphone is an amateur photographer. So we asked some expert snappers: How do you take a really good picture?

Share your tips with #photoprotips

Cubby Graham- Creative at Charity Water/ Instagram contributor with more than 540,000 followers

On light: "Finding great light is the most important thing. It means going out in the mornings and evening when the light's really beautiful. The iPhone doesn't photograph well in low light or harsh light, so going out one to two and half hours before sunset is good."

On editing apps: "There are three that I really use. My primary one is VSCO Cam. I think it's the premiere editing app for iPhone. One of the things I'm passionate about is not manipulating the image. Staying as natural as possible. VSCO process in a way that compliments, but doesn't distort… it also has skin tone corrections so people don't end up looking green like the hulk with certain filter packs."

On creating an Instagram following: "I tell people the content that you create is the audience you're gonna attract. I like to take photos of what I find beautiful and inspiring."

Matt Duckor- Assistant Editor, Bon Appetit (also runs their Instagram account and Instagram training)

On filters: "I don't really recommend using Instagram filters. Go through programs like Snapseed, or VSCO Cam, there's Camera Plus and tons of other apps out there. Most of them, for food, tend to give a weird retro faux-not-natural look and we want our photos to look as delicious as possible whether it's on the magazine or on Instagram."

On food photos: "We tell people to take photos directly above whatever food they're photographing, so straight down, holding the phone straight above it. Or shoot straight on, holding the phone straight up on a level surface and taking a photo -- like when you're taking a photo of a drink or something that's standing up on a table. That's what we do on our Instagram and that's what I do personally."

"Shooting at a 90 degrees doesn't end up looking very good. On a normal camera, that's a totally acceptable way to shoot, but on an iPhone, it doesn't really end up yielding a great product."

Larry Kramer– President & Publisher, USA TODAY

"Taking photos isn't about the equipment; it's about your eye and how you compose the photo to tell your story. While I used to carry four expensive Nikon cameras with interchangeable lenses when I was a news and sports photographer a long time ago, the world has changed dramatically. Much of what I could accomplish then can now be done with my iPhone. Most importantly, I can react quickly to seeing something that IS a great photo.

A few tips: always frame a photo and try to put a natural border around what you're emphasizing. If it's a beautiful picture of a lake, look for a natural border of trees to shoot through in the foreground. It will give the photo depth, and help the lake stand out. And some simple apps, like ProCamera, help tremendously by letting you use one spot on your screen for focus and another to set brightness. Happy snapping!"


Michelle Fernandez- Director, Marketing ITCG Camera & Video at Canon

On group photos: "If I'm in a group of people, I actually don't hold the camera in front of me. To kind of get more of a candid shot, I actually extend my arm out and look at the group from a different perspective... Everyone has a different point of view when you're in a conversation or group environment. The position of your camera is out -- not so that you're taking a selfie -- but so that you're taking your side profile or the side profile of your friend or the environment. It kind of gives a different spin. That's another way to tell your story."

Bob Kupbens– VP, Marketing and Digital Commerce, Delta Airlines, and photographer at Wood Stone Photography

On editing apps: "My favorite editing tool is Snapseed. It's by a company called Nik that was purchased by Google. You can edit contrast and it's really a fully featured editing tool... I don't post anything publicly from my phone that hasn't been through Snapseed."

On the camera app: "Sometimes the camera on the iPhone decides what you're focusing on. It's a little blue box and you can actually move that around. A lot of people don't know that you can take a moment to refocus."

On angles: "I love photos that are not taken from a traditional angle. A lot of the photos are taken from between 5 and 6 feet off the ground (depending on a person's height), because the average person's perspective is at eye-level."

"People look heroic from low and they look smaller or you can show more mass when you're higher up."

Sarah Herron- Designer, 72andSunny

On photo apps: "My favorite is called AfterLight. It's great for framing, stylizing and filtering."

On taking a good photo: "Take your time trying to seek out interesting or naturally occurring compositions. Most importantly, be self-editing! I take anywhere between 1-30 random iPhone photos a day, but I always stop to assess whether posting any of the photos to my channels is out of compulsion, or because it really is a great shot. I ask myself 'will other people enjoy this photo?' 'will I still enjoy this photo 10 days from now?' Taking a picture of penguin printed socks can be done beautifully or also really horrendously depending on how you do it."

Instagram tips: "Try establishing a manifesto, or set of design guidelines for your Instagram. Some of my favorite Instagram accounts are people who've religiously adhered to a theme for their photo sharing, i.e. black and white, portraits, patterns, food, nature, typography, etc. In so many ways Instagram is acting as the new photography portfolio and is one of the best platforms for broadcasting your sense of design and individuality. Make it your own!"

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