How to take beautiful pictures

I’m not a pro photographer or anything cool like that, but I do love taking pictures.  I average 100+ images on my iPhone per day.  I am fully aware that I have issues.  But this post is not about PA {photographer’s anonymous}, it’s a couple tips I’ve learned along the way.

99% of the pics you see on SCB & social media platforms were taken with my iPhone 5.  I don’t believe you have to have one or some fancy camera, in fact I think the best camera is the one you already own.  You just have to take some time & effort to learn how to use it.

This post was actually inspired by our trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium last week.  A lot of the exhibits have low light and I saw quite a few people snapping pictures with their flash on.  I mean, who wants the flash and/or window reflection ruining a cool shot of the sea turtle swimming by?

Apparently I uncovered an unknown pet peeve of mine.  Who knew?

2014-01-01 12.59.20

Here are a few of my {very amateur} tips:

Turn the dang flash off

I never use my flash.  Like ever.  Mike disagrees with me, but he also takes like 2 pics a day.  Pshhhh  Winking smile

Natural light is the key to awesome shots.  I know it’s not always available, so you just kind of have to work with what you have and remember a cool filter can save a darker or less than stellar image.  We’ll get to that in a bit.

To get the last 2 shots, I held my iPhone really still, pressed on the jellyfish as my focal point and snap the pic.  I usually take a couple so chances of getting a great one are higher.  Then I save it + delete the others that didn’t make the cut.



It can totally make an image rock.  I snapped this one at sunset in Pebble Beach.  It’s completely unedited with no filter. 


Photo filters & apps

Playing with an image is the fun part.  My favorite editing app is A Beautiful Mess.  I created the image below with it by adding a cool filter to soften it up & added text.  When I uploaded it to Instagram, I added another filter just because.  I don’t always layer filters, but sometimes I end up digging them, so I roll with it.


I just used a single filter from Instagram for the cup of coffee.  BTW my absolute favorite filter on the IG is Mayfair.  It really makes the color pop.


Pixlr is another favorite online app  I’m not sure if they have a mobile app though.  It’s a free, web based app-no need to download anything crazy to my PC that offers a ton of cool tools.  I completely enhanced the basic image below that I took last April in Santa Barbra.


And made this.  The possibilities are endless.


I also dig PicMonkey so much I just upgraded for the year.  It’s another web based app & it’s user friendly for this creative inept chick.  Now they really need to get into the mobile app business & I’d be set.

Not really photo editing advise, but regularly transfer photos from your device to PC or laptop.  Then create folders for each day/event etc and delete images that don’t make the cut, you have multiples of or you just don’t like to keep it clean + organized.

<//end of SCB PSA for today//>

Please share your photography tips!

What are your favorite photo editing apps?


20 Comments on “How to take beautiful pictures

  1. I actually get paid to take photos! ( amatuer also) But I have been running a VERY small photography business for 2 years now…. Of course I do not use my iphone I do own a fancy camera HOWEVER for everyday use I LOVE my iphone camera! (truth be told sometimes it takes better photos than my fancy camera) but shhh do not tell canon that! Anyhoo, I also average a massive amount of photos on my phone so many that I have to clear space far too often! I don’t have a photo editing app other than IG. I kind of like the au natural photos or very basic filters! For my business I use a computer web based program but even then I prefer natural shots . sometimes i touch up or soften but once you edit a photo it is no longer a photograph it becomes an “image” ( techinical crap, don’t mind me) =) Happy running friends!

  2. I am a below average photographer, but I do love my iPhone 5 camera. I absolutely MUST use a filter in order to make my photos look better. Sometimes that doesn’t even work! haha. This is an area I would definitely like to improve – especially for my recipe/food photos. Thanks for the tips!

    • You’re welcome. A great tip for non blurry photos with your iPhone is to press on your point of focus until it comes in clear & snap your pic.

  3. I’ve been using the app Afterlight to filter all of my pics lately, so much that I haven’t even been using the Instagram filters…

  4. Your pics rock!!

    I use my phone camera way more than my Canon DSLR, it’s just easier for day-to-day pics. And yes, natural light is way better! I also don’t use flash unless it’s dark or I’m back-lighting something. If I’m going to shoot action, portraits, low-light areas, or some other scenario where I need multiple lenses, then I break out the DSLR 🙂

    The Rule of Thirds is always a good tip. I rarely shoot a photo where the subject is perfectly centered.

    On my phone, I think I use IG’s filters most of the time. On my computer, Adobe’s Lightroom rocks my socks off!

  5. I love you pic of the jelly fish and philz coffee:-)
    As for photo tips;
    Place a sheet of kleenex or tissue paper over the flash to difuse the light. I usually just attach the tissue with a piece of tape. I use this with my iphone as well as for point and shoots.

    I like pic monkey too.
    As for organizing pics. Flickr is helpful to organize.

  6. Wow – your iPhone pictures are than my camera pictures!
    I need to figure out how to turn the flash off on my iPhone.

  7. I love your pictures! Great tips! I also use my iPhone. I feel like my pictures come out better with my phone than with my regular camera, plus it’s so much easier to use! 🙂

  8. Love your pictures! Yes I use my phone for almost all my pictures – I used to have a huge amount of picture apps on my iphone but switched phones and now I need to get them all back!

  9. I hardly use flash too, but my subject (my kid) moves so fast that a lot of time, I feel like I should use the flash as otherwise it is blurry. Then again, if I didn’t just use my camera phone, it’d probably be better too. In my defence, the kiddo did ruin my point and shoot camera earlier last year…

  10. I just use my phone, instagram and ribbet (internet app) for pictures lately. Although I really should break out my nice Cannon camera, I miss using that big thing!

  11. Love the aquarium shots! One of my favorite photo apps is the Awesome Camera app. It has the focus feature and also allows you to zoom. Then, you can edit and upload directly to Twitter, Instagram, etc.

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