1 – Rule of Thirds
Use the rules of thirds grid to help compose your picture while taking your photo, or use it while cropping it after it’s taken.
- Line up subject’s close to the intersections
- Line up the horizion on the top or bottom horizontal line
Most cameras and cellphone cameras have a rules of thirds grid which can be of great benefit when composing your pictures. The rules of thirds grids can help you layout and angle your picture. The four intersections of the rule of thirds grids are usually where the focal point is best positioned. I usually put most of the frames weight or subject or focal interest in the top left or top right intersection of the rule of thirds. I use the horizontal lines to guide me and usually line up the horizon on one of them or close to one of them.
As you can see using the rule of thirds helps balance a nice picture. Sometimes your subject can be in the center also, but it can turn out nice when you use one of the rules of thirds intersection. Even if you compose your picture badly when shooting it, you can fix it by using the rule of thirds in the cropping tool. This can help you lock in your rules of thirds or balance the weight of the picture later.
2 – Avoid Back-lighting
Avoid backlighting when taking pictures by using a flash or moving the subject to where the light faces them
- Move the subject so the light faces them
- Use a flash even in the daytime to light up the subject
- Try to edit bad backlighting with
- Lower Highlights
Back-lighting most of the time can ruin a picture by making the subject too dark or look like a shadow. Try to avoid backlight unless you are using it for an effect. If you can’t avoid it, turn your flash on even in the daylight to brighten up the subject. Using a flash in the daylight can help a lot with exposure issues. If you have a shot with bad backlighting there are a few editing tricks to try to calm it down. You can try to decrease the highlights settings in your editing software. You can also try to use the defog, dehaze, sharpen or clarity tool. Because cellphones usually have fingerprints and grease on their lenses, bad backlighting will wash out and fog parts of the pictures.
3 – Exposure & Brightness
Adjust your exposure when editing to make sure your subject is not to bright or too dark.
- Adjust the exposure the subject is light right
- Even dark pictures can look great when the exposure is brought up
- Use high exposure to wash out blemishes
- If faces are dark try adjusting the “shadows” up
Even if your picture looks dark you would be surprised that with a little exposure change you might get it too look great. With cellphones these days, they can shoot so many megapixels that sometimes just brightening up the exposure can make a dark pic look great. Sometimes you can blast the exposure high enough to make faces look washed out and angelic. This can also remove skin blemishes and wrinkles. If the subject or faces is too dark but the rest of the picture looks good, try adjusting the “shadows” exposure up while maintaining the exposure of the rest of the picture.
4 – Filters
Try different Instagram or Photoshop Express filters on your photos to help them stand out with more character.
Here are some of my favorite filters:
- Photoshop Express
- Vignette Glow
Why do we love Instagram- Filters are easy to click presets that can that stylize your pictures by adding color, exposure, contrast and more. Most cellphone photo editing apps have filters now a days. I think Instagram probably has my favorites. On Instagram I love using Gingham, Ludwig, Lo-Fi and Nashville. In Photoshop Express I love Vibrant, Autumn, Silvered, Superpunch, Contrastpunch, Cinematic and Vignette Glow. You will probably gravitate to ones you like. Most of the apps you can adjust how much of the filter is used. You may find that some photos may look good with a black and white filter. Something I have been doing is using Splash tones from Photoshop Express. Check out how these jeans turned out.
Black and White can look great too:
5 – Vignette or Blur Edges (Tilt Shift)
Use a vignette or blur your edges to make your subject pop. To me it seems every picture looks better with darker edges.
- Vignette – Darken Edges
- Tilt Shift – Blur Edges or Top and Bottom
- Photoshop Express
- Boxes Icon
- Vignette Black
- Boxes Icon
These two effects just make everything look better. I use vignette on most of my pictures. Vignette is basically a dark fade on the edges of your picture. Instagram can blur the edges which looks awesome. You can also blur the top and bottom and adjust the size of the blur or vignette. You can also vignette with Photoshop Express.
Tilt Shift / Blur Edges:
6 – Collage
Use a collage to string a series of moments together like a video inside a photo.
- Photoshop Express
- Layout From Instagram
Put multiple pictures together to create a nice college. This would be good for products also. Collages are good to show series of moments together. This can help you stand out compared to just using one image.
7 – Remove Trademark Names
Use a blemish remover to quickly remove trademark names.
- Photoshop Express
- Blur Photo Editor
- Various Retouch Apps
If you are advertising for your business you probably don’t want trademarked names in your photo. I recently just started using the blemish remover to take the brand names out. It isn’t perfect but for quick social media updates it works great. It usually just blends and blurs the background over the name.
8 – Text
Use text to create memes, funny pics, or professional graphic ads.
- Adobe Spark
- Pablo by Buffer
- Various Meme Generators
Be careful of adding text to an image. Usually it screams advertisement and people will breeze over it in a heartbeat. If you add text in a funny way, such as a meme, you will probably get more response. If you are making some nice promo text photos, try using adobe spark. It is great way to create styles and text quick and easy. There is a free version which will add a #adobespark hashtag at the bottom of your picture. If you have an adobe cloud account, I think you can render your photos without the hashtag. You can use just text and their stock images, or overlay text over your images. Adobe spark is a very nice app and they have a web cloud version you can use to on your pc. There are other apps also, Pablo by Buffer and a slew of Meme Generators apps.
9 – Text Bubble
Use text bubbles to bring a comedic cartoonish look to your media with funny conversations.
- Comic Caption Creator Lite
Text bubbles are fun to use. They can bring a comedic cartoonish look to your media. I have been using the BeFunky app to add text bubbles to my photos. If you use a text bubble, try not to use it to advertise, but use it to create a story in your picture. You can do some real funny things with it.
10 – Time-Lapse
Use a fast-foreword short video “time-lapses” to engage people with a new technique.
It seems that most cell phones have a time lapse feature these days. They can look killer online and in social media. They can give you a little bit of an edge. Basically, a time-lapse is a fast-forward looking video. You just go to your time-lapse mode on your camera and try to shoot something that is moving, like cars, people, rivers etc. Shoot it for about a minute then watch it. It looks way cool!!! It could set you apart from your competitors and give you a little edge when used sparingly.
11 – Hashtags, People Tags, Geotags, Alt Tags and Call to action
Don’t forget to add these to the outside of your pictures to help people find you and take them to your website.
Add many hashtags to your Instagram posts to reach a wider audience. I have used up to 20 hashtags hidden underneath my pictures. I acquired a couple good connects from having my #busking and #karaoke hashtag in twitter under my pics. One was an interview and the other was a teeming up with a car karaoke friend for business. If you are putting your images up on your website, make sure you have the “Alt Tags” with your keywords in there. Because of my “Alt Tags” my images come up when people search “Las Vegas Street Performers”. Try to take photos with people and tag them in your photo. This will hopefully get them to share it with their friend. Don’t start tagging people that are not in your photo to get them to see it. That would be considered spam and is annoying. I am guilty, I don’t do this enough, but put a call to action at the end of your writing under your pic. Lead people to your site, or article or wherever. What do you want them to do?
Hashtags and People Tags:
Call to Action:
Outbound Picture Links:
12 – GIFs and Animations
Use GIFS and Animations to create short clips that take your pictures to a whole new world.
- Giphy Cam
These are my favorite. Let’s face it video gets more results than images these days. Gifs are many pictures put together to create a short animation. But with apps now, not only can you put a selection of pictures together to create a GIF, you can use GIF filters which can superimpose animations into your photos. GIFS are so fun and can be funny and usually loop over and over. My favorite app to create GIFs is Giphy Cam. There are many more too. Sometimes I use snapchat to create an animation, then download the animation and post it on my other social media pages. Here I had a guitar pedal called the Rainbow Machine. I found a snapchat with an animated rainbow in it. How perfect. Look at how they went together to create this animation.
Giphy Cam and Artisto:
Giphy Cam and Snapchat: