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How to Take Phone Photos for Social Media

We believe that social media is meant to be social but this aspect can be easily overlooked when trying to curate professional and cohesive social media feeds. We always emphasize the importance of authentic pictures but this time we want to focus on in-the-moment phone pictures for social media. If you've ever tried to capture authentic in-the-moment photos for social media, you've probably realized just how difficult it is to get good photos while still being present. Here are some of our tried and true tips for getting quality images consistently and quickly:


Though we take the majority of our photos using a professional camera, we also use our iPhones. With the right lighting, settings and apps you can achieve strong photos that attract and communicate to your audience. Here are some tricks to get the most out of your smartphone images:


Look for even lighting by avoiding harsh shadows or harsh bright light.

If you’re inside, place your subject near a window.

If your subject is a person have them either facing the window directly so they have even, flattering lighting.

If there are shadows, try pulling a white or sheer curtain over the window to diffuse the light.

When shooting flat lays I use a white foam board to bounce light back onto my surface and fill any shadows. (As seen in this photo)

If you’re outside, it may seem contradictory to avoid light… but getting in the shade will give you nice even lighting in the middle of the day.

PRO TIP: Try to find a shadowed area surrounded by cement or white buildings. This will create natural reflectors, which will give you more even, flattering lighting.


Even when our photographers are shooting with professional cameras, they try to "crop in-camera." This is when the image you are viewing in camera is the photo you want for your final product. Take the extra effort to get the composition and angles right when taking the picture, rather than trying to crop and straighten the image after. Not only does this cut down on time spent on editing, but it keeps image quality at its best. Whenever you crop your photos or zoom in phone, you are losing picture quality.

PRO TIP: Having difficulty composing your images? Following "The Rule-of-Thirds" is a great place to start.

Using the grid on your photo helps ensure that your lines are straight and your composition is spot on.

PRO TIP: When taking pictures of people, be aware of where you are cropping your photo. Here are just a couple tips:

  1. Be sure not to chop off hands or feet. A photography rule-of-thumb is to never crop at one's joints.

  2. Make sure nothing in background is sticking out of heads. Be aware if there is a tree, light post, street sign, etc. in the background and be sure it is not seen directly behind your subject.


You can do this by using AE/AF Lock. It may sound intimidating, but it is really simple.

(You can watch the video below. Slow it down to watch each move.)

  1. Launch the Camera app on your iPhone.

  2. Tap the screen to choose the part of the image you want to focus on and expose.

  3. Tap and hold on your focal point until you see an AE/AF Lock banner appear at the top of the screen, to lock exposure and focus.

  4. Slide your finger up and down to adjust the exposure.

  5. Tap the shutter button when you're ready to take your photo.

  6. Tap anywhere on the screen to unlock the focus and exposure.

PRO TIP: When in doubt, choose underexposing your photo (having your photo slightly darker) rather than overexposing (your photo being slightly brighter). This is because digital images are unable to recover detail if the highlights are too bright.



After you’ve taken photos and are happy with how they look, you will then need to edit them. The most important thing to remember when it comes to editing is to find what you like and stick to it. Consistency is essential to make your pictures and social media look polished and cohesive.

I'll be sharing three ways you can edit pictures, so no matter your skill level with technology, you will be able to edit you photo! (we promise!)


This method is the easiest because it does not require a third-party app and has basic controls that are user friendly.

1. Open Photos on your iPhone and select the photo you are wishing to edit.

2. Tap the "Edit" button in the bottom right-hand corner.

3. You will see options to adjust the Crop, Angle, Light, add a Filter, and more. Choose an adjustment, like Brightness or Saturation, and slide to change the strength and intensity.

4. I always start with Light. I typically bring up the brilliance, exposure, brightness, and contrast. But it all varies depending on the photo itself. Sometimes I will adjust the shadows to be darker if the photo looks flat or brighten the shadows if they are too dark for my liking.

5. Once I am finished with the Light portion, I move on to Color. I typically tweak the Saturation and Contrast.

6. I rarely make photos Black and White, but if you want to you can either use a Black and White filter, or bring the Saturation down to -100 and adjust your Black Point setting to your liking.

7. If you don’t like how your changes look, tap Cancel and revert back to the original.



The next method gives you a little more control with a little more effort. You will need the free VSCO app (you can find it in your app store or click here and have it texted right to your phone). VSCO filters can be a little harsh and have a distinctive look, but when their intensity is dialed down they are a great tool to use on your photos to make them look consistent.

  1. Download and open the VSCO app.

  2. Import the photo you wish to edit. Once it is imported, select the photo and tap the edit icon on the bottom (second from the left).

  3. First you will select a preset you wish to add to the photo. My favorites are A6 (it has a natural, warm edit with bright highlights), HB2 (has warm highlights with cooler shadows), and M5 (a warm edit).

  4. Once you've selected the preset, you will then click on the preset again to adjust the strength. For A6 I normally stick to around 6, but stay around 3 for the other two presets.

  5. Next, you will tap the edit button (second from the left again) and begin making more edits. I always go in order of the settings, starting with Exposure.



This last method uses Lightroom, a free app, which has more capabilities than VSCO. We love using presets to edit images consistently and quickly. Our favorite presets are by The Light & Airy Photographer , Jana Bishop, and Kindred.

  1. Download and open the Lightroom app.

  2. Purchase and download presets, if you choose to use them (you will receive instructions on how to do this with your presets).

  3. Select and open the image you want to edit. You can do this by tapping the blue picture with a plus sign icon in the bottom right-hand corner.

  4. On the bottom, scroll to the far right and select "Presets" (third from the right) and select which preset you wish to apply.

  5. Once you've chosen a preset, start editing! (I picked a Jess Kettle present in my video below) I start by adjusting the light. I begin by bringing the exposure up on the slider. I adjust nearly each aspect under Light, depending on the photo. PRO TIP: In Lightroom you are able to adjust the curve (icon in the top right corner) this allows you to bring up the mid-tones without much change to the highlight or shadows.

  6. I then move on to editing the color... Temperature is very important to be mindful of with photos. I try to make mine neutral - or slightly warm. But this totally depends on the look you prefer. Typically warmer tones are more flattering for food and people.

  7. I typically bring up the clarity under the "Effect" tab. You only need a little to make the photo pop a little more (I rarely go above +10).

  8. Under "Optics" I like to always have my Lens Corrections Enabled. This ensures that nothing in your photo is distorted.

  9. Occasionally a photo will need more editing than normal. I like to use the "Selective" tool if I want to make edits to certain parts of the photo (I typically will brighten some areas that appear dark). I use the "Heal" tool to remove anything distracting in the photo. And every once in a while I will use the "Geometry" and "Crop" tool to adjust any lines, that may be crooked or distorted.

  10. Once you've finished editing your photo, you will tap the "Share" icon in the top right corner and save the image to Camera Roll. Always be sure to select "Maximum Available" for the Image Size.


If you need help with your brand photography and live near Auburn, Alabama, contact Eloise. If aren't local to us, we work with small businesses across the USA. When we are working on their branding, we will help them find a photographer in their area to capture their brand.


Billi Jean
Billi Jean

Thanks for the great article. I agree that photo content is very important for promoting social networks and other web projects. That's why I try to use only high-quality images. And I recently used Depositphotos for shavasana images for my yoga blog, and I was impressed by the variety and quality they offered. It made my content visually appealing and engaging!

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