Like many millennials, I’m an Instagram junkie. It’s my favorite way to connect with people I care about and living far from many of them, it’s an excellent way for them to feel involved in my life, too. With a camera in our pocket at all times, we can take photos of absolutely everything; we no longer worry about wasted film or developing a bad picture. But since film is no longer precious, we may have lost our creative spark. If you want to up your social media photo game and take quality pictures that capture the essence of your loves, life, and dreams — and create beautiful mementos for future generations — let the bloggers at A Beautiful Mess guide you in catching life’s big and little moments with style and grace.
1. No Fancy Camera Necessary
Think you can’t take a great photo without the right equipment? You don’t need a DSLR to take a quality photo — just your smartphone or a point-and-shoot camera. Simply follow these three tips to get the most out of your subjects:
- Light is your friend: Low-light photos turn out grainy; always move yourself or your subjects to light sources whenever possible.
- Get close: Great shots often capture one detail, close up. And don’t be afraid to play with crops and angles on even large subjects.
- Try an app: You aren’t limited to Instagram filters. Try enhancing your photos with apps like VSCO Cam, Picture Show, and Snapseed.
2. Experiment with Props
Whether the subject of a portrait is you or someone you love, props can be a great way to show some personality or provide a seasonal touch. Try incorporating one of these props into your next photo shoot:
- Vintage or contemporary books
- Flowers or fall leaves
- Quilts, blankets, and scarves
3. Take Macro Photos
Macro photos are extreme close-ups of features or objects. While there are special macro lenses for fancy cameras, you can capture them with your smartphone, too. All they require is a sharp point of focus — either the entire subject or its most important feature — with the rest blurred. Look for subjects with lots of different colors or textures for the most interesting shots.
4. Capture a Collection
While you may not collect stamps or souvenir spoons, you probably collect something — maybe it’s cookbooks, wine corks, yarn, or your colorful shoe collection. Whatever the objects of your affection, try both carefully arranged shots as well as a few messy ones. Experiment with different angles and different times of day to see what light and view works best.
5. Try the Thirty-Day Self-Portrait Challenge
Document your everyday life (and switch up your selfie game!) with this month-long challenge. Simply photograph yourself or something about you — a silhouette shot, your office space, a cute accessory — every day for thirty days with only you as the photographer. You may be surprised at what you learn (and how creative you get with your shots)!
6. Show Them Off
Do your photos get lost in the digital detritus now that you don’t need to print them to see them? Encourage your creativity with easy crafts like memory magnets and holiday ornaments. Not only will you be inspired to take more interesting shots for these new mediums, but your photos will enjoy life outside of the digital space.
How to Make Memory Magnets
Self-adhesive magnet sheet
1. Print your photos. Photo paper is preferred, but plain old copy paper will do, too.
2. Peel back the paper on the magnet sheets and adhere your photos. Trim the excess.
How to Make Holiday Ornaments
Photo prints or copies
Clear holiday ornaments
1. Cut your photos, using the ornaments’ diameter as a guide.
2. Roll up the image and slide it into the ornament, using the pen to help unroll it.
3. Add sequins and replace the ornament’s cap to display.
For lots more tips, tricks, and creative inspiration, check out Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman’s A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book.