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Snapping Smarter: Taking Social Media Photos with Your Phone

Long frame photography for social media

Social Media Photography Tips

“The best camera is the one you have with you.”  This quote has been echoed among photographers for generations, and couldn’t be more true today with everyone walking around with a camera in their pocket. Today, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the technical jargon of digital cameras: megapixels, autofocus points, image stabilization…etc. While that advertisement you saw might lead you to believe that spending thousands of dollars on a high-end camera is the key to having stunning images, in reality, it’s only a small part of it. Smartphone cameras have evolved tremendously since the first iPhone was introduced in 2007. While they will never replace a proper full-frame camera, when used effectively, they are sufficient for creating quality social media content. Here’s are a few social media photography tips to take your smartphone images to the next level:

Lighting Tips for Your Smartphone Photos

Lighting is everything; it can make or break your images. Good lighting helps level the playing field between your smartphone and that $3,000 camera you’ve had your eye on. You don’t need high-end flashes or lighting equipment either, the most available (and often the best) light source is none other than natural light. 

When you’re indoors, start by moving away from those unflattering overhead fluorescents and position your subject next to a window. The window acts as a natural softbox to filter in the outside light. Avoid backlighting (placing the window behind your subject) and try to light your subject from the side. You’ll see window light used all the time – even in professional product or food photography. 

Lighting Tips for Social Media Photos

When you are outdoors, try to pick an overcast day to get beautifully diffused light. If there are no clouds in the forecast, find a shady spot to avoid the harsh shadows from the direct sun. And if the shadows are still too harsh, one trick is to make a DIY reflector with a white sheet of foam core to bounce the light back onto your subject and fill in those shadows. 

Photo Composition

You don’t have to be a master photographer to know the basics of composing your images. One of the most fundamental composition guides is the Rule of Thirds. As the name implies, the Rule of Thirds divides your image into thirds both horizontally and vertically to create a grid. This is used as a guide for where to put your subject in your photo. In fact, when you open your iPhone’s camera app, this grid is already overlaid onto your screen. Use it by placing your subject in the right or left third instead of centering it, which will make for a more visually appealing image.

Photography frame of plant in window with smartphone

Try going horizontal! The majority of the images in your camera roll are vertical since that’s the natural way to hold your smartphone while taking a picture. But most images lend themselves better as horizontal photos, and they tend to fit better on web pages as well. So try both!

Editing Your Smartphone Photos for Social Media

Last but not least is what happens after you take the image – the editing. The biggest takeaway is that there is such a thing as ‘too much editing’. While it may be tempting to throw all your favorite filters on at once, your audience will be able to spot tacky editing from a mile away. 

Keep your image as natural looking as possible while making tweaks to brighten or clean things up in your favorite editing app. Some basic adjustments would be to lighten the shadows, darken the highlights, and increase contrast (keep it subtle!). There are plenty of free and easy-to-use apps that can accomplish nearly all of your basic editing needs, such as Adobe Lightroom Mobile, Snapseed, or even the built-in editor on Instagram.

There you have it! Now that you have the basics of creating quality photos for your social media, get out there and start making new content! If you’re still scratching your head on where to start, we’ve got something for that.

Author Details


Brandon Fiege, MBA

Social Media Coordinator at Tipsy Social. Hudson Valley local with a love for all things inventive. European sports car enthusiast. Views social media as a tool that must constantly be sharpened. Always creating.