If you didn’t Instagram it, did it even happen at all? The millennial philosophers of our day would quickly ask. And the answer is – nope.
But curating a wanderlust-inspiring or hunger-inducing grid takes skill, and we could all probably use some tips from the pros. So we’ve teamed up with Instagram lifestyle influencer Melissa Celestine Koh, equipped her with the Honor 7C smartphone, and asked her to dish the deets on how she captures and curates her Instagram feed. Read below for six of her tried and true tips.
1. Composition tip: use the Rule of Thirds
Composition, in photography, is the placement or arrangement of visual elements within the photo. A useful guideline to keep in mind is the Rule of Thirds which will help you compose better shots.
Widely accepted as the golden rule of composition, the Rule of Thirds involves imagining that the image is divided into 9 equal parts by two vertical and two horizontal lines that divide the image into equal sections.
By aligning key elements of the photos to these lines – like your subject or the horizon – instead of positioning your subject in the center of the image, you’ll create more tension and interest in the image. Also, most smartphones have a grid setting that you can activate, so you don’t have to imagine the lines on your screen.
There are a hundred different guidelines for composition but my advice would be not to get too hung up on them. Great composition means framing your image in a fashion that draws attention to your subject while portraying your intended message. So keep this in mind the next time you take a photo.
2. It’s always better to under-expose instead of over-expose
Always remember that you can never salvage an over-exposed image even with the best post-editing apps or software. An image that is over-exposed has lost all the details and lowering the brightness later on won’t bring the details back.
It’s always safer to under-expose your shot a little by tapping on the brightest part of the image and letting your phone camera lock in the right exposure level before you snap away. You can always brighten the image with editing later on.
3. Use natural light to your advantage
Have you ever chanced upon the perfect photo backdrop, whipped out your phone, found your perfect framing and angle, expertly positioned your subject but still didn’t manage to get the shot to look amazing? Chances are the lighting wasn’t right.
Lighting can easily make or break a photo. So here are some useful guidelines you can follow to get sunlight working in your favour:
- When you’re taking a photo of a subject but the sunlight is way too harsh (i.e. bright), have your subject stand in the shade facing the light. You’ll find that your subject and the back drop are more evenly lit with no harsh shadows on the subject’s face.
- If you’re indoors, in a cafe for example, sit near a window where natural light is streaming in and as far away as possible from artificial lighting. Shadows are hard to shoot unless you have flash or external lighting.
- But also, learn to play with shadows. Shadows aren’t always the enemy. Learn to use them to mask certain aspects of your subject or to add contrast to your images.
4. Use an editing app to bring out the best in your photo
Once you’ve captured your image, you can take it to the next level with an editing app. There are a few great editing apps on the market but my favourites are Snapseed, where you can do spot editing and TouchRetouch, where you can remove unwanted objects by cloning the areas around it.
For beginners, focus on the basics such as exposure, saturations and contrast. Once you get the hang of things, you can explore other tools like grain, fade, shadows, highlights, and even the healing tool to remove unwanted distractions in the photos. Before you know it, you’ll be a real pro.
5. Explore macro-shots and capture the little details
From the amount of details they can capture (megapixels), to image depth (aperture), to their ability to capture in low light, mobile phone cameras have come such a long way.
Dive into the world of macro photography with close up shots of the minute details and you’ll add yet another dimension to your images.
6. Do it yourself (The Selfie)
The selfie might not be for everyone, but for those who embrace it, it is an excellent way to capture a more personal (pun-intended) image that effectively captures the emotion of the moment. It’s fuss free and a whole lot of fun!
And who says a self-portrait can’t look professionally taken, especially with the improvements to front cameras in mobile phones. I love the Honor’s selfie function, especially the beautifying effect as it makes me look good even on a bad day!