Saturday, November 14, 2015



iPhone pic by Kreetta Järvenpää
Instagram is more popular than ever before. Are you there already? If not - should you? If you are - what kind of feed you have? If you feel you should do better you might like to read following tips I'm blogging here today. How to get a better looking Instagram feed photographed on your smart phone. I think it is possible, you don't have to have a real camera. 

The bottom line in every media is storytelling. What kind of story you want to tell? This time I'm not telling you how you should tell your story, I'm telling you how should you use your smart phone to take beautiful pics to tell your story.

I have iPhone and I use VSCO app and lately I've tried a bit of Afterlight too. All these pics in this post I've photographed with iPhone.
iPhone pic by Kreetta Järvenpää
There are few ground rules to remember when working with smart phone.

1. Lighting

Avoid difficult lighting conditions. In other words too dark and too harsh light. I recommend shooting in natural light. Make sure you don't photograph in straight sun light. Smart phone isn't the best in difficult conditions so make them easy - you have a chance to succeed. So find a shadow, photograph on gray day or diffuse the light with white fabric, white paper or block the light with neutral color cardboard (white, grey, black)

Find the direction of light. Easy test is just to look at where the shadow falls from your hand on a surface. Usually I prefer that the shadow in the picture is somewhere else than above the subject but I have seen that done too. I think the rules are meant to be broken. (but before that it is good to know what you are breaking) Avoid the light that makes sharp shadow - we want soft light. We want soft shadow. The hand test tells you if it is a good place to photograph with your phone.

2. Location

Location is very important. If you don't have a good location where the light is good and surroundings are fine then you have to create it. You follow the light. I'm photographing mainly still life and food with my iPhone so the space I need isn't so big. I can build the place where I photograph on the table, on the floor, on the terrace, on the ground where ever I have a good light. Try to find a good place at your home, office, workspace, garden - wherever the light is good. Use that spot. You can make your pic there. I use same places at home and at workspace.

3. Time

Yup. You need time to make photos. You get faster the more you do it. But it also happens to professionals that nothing just happens...if you know what I mean. Well, it is important also to let go and try again later or next day. It might also help if you can work together with someone who is also interested about same subject as you are. Make something together and see what happens.
4. Style
Learning by doing is such a cliché but it is a very good way to get better. Also I recommend you to watch what other people are doing. You can learn a lot only by looking at other people's work. How do they do it? I trust odd numbers. Remember you have to be careful with colors. With styling you can build a certain feeling to your pics. Do you want to go with certain colors, composition, subject, cropping or angle of view.

5. Composition
This is very important. Rule of thirds, negative space, diagonals, leading the eye...there are plenty of things to consider but most important especially in Instagram is to simplify. You are looking either at someone's single pic or at someone's grid in small size on your phone. You will decide in matter of seconds, will you or will you not follow this feed. Not only one pic has to be good but all those pics have to be good as a grid. It is a good idea to keep things simple. Begin your composition with your main subject. Add or arrange things as long as you find the balance.

6. Edit
What do you do to your picture is very important. Cropping happens here. I recommend to try manual photo processing first and if you want to use filters, that should be the last thing to do, and I never use filter 100%. Just enough to make a difference. But as I said rules are meant to be broken - always.

iPhone pic by Kreetta Järvenpää
I hope you haven't got too overwhelmed by all these things I've been telling you. One thing at a time. Forcing is never the right answer. Give time to your creative process.   

Here are a few beautiful instafeeds you might like to check.

Our Food Stories
Local Milk 
Fröken Skicklig 
Cannelle et Vanille  
Mimi Brune (only iPhone)

Most of all - have fun!


ps....I notice that all these tips could be worth writing a blog post. Have to think about it.


  1. Thanks so much for this, super helpful!

    1. So great to hear! Thank you. The phone isn't the easiest one to make beautiful photography but it is possible.


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