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How to Take and Edit Your Photos
by Student, Maddie L. , Providence, Rhode Island

How to Take and Edit Your Photos

With my trip to Québec City quickly approaching, I plan to take dozens, maybe hundreds of pictures. Plus, as social media becomes an increasingly integral part of traveling and the ability it has to transport your followers to the country you’re vacationing in, it feels important to produce only the best pictures for your feed. I have compiled a list of steps to taking the perfect photos, as well as how to best edit them.

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1. iPhone or Camera?

As the cameras on smartphones continue to get increasingly professional, people are choosing them over digital cameras more and more. Convenience is key here, especially when your camera can fit in your pocket. I tend to turn to my iPhone lens on a day to day basis. When using your iPhone’s camera, it can be very helpful to enable the grid setting to stabilize your photo. I like to do this when traveling because if I’m taking a picture of a monument or some interesting architecture, it allows me to get a really accurate shot.


2. Choose Your Subject

Choosing an interesting subject for your photo is not difficult! Everywhere we turn there are beautiful people, objects, and landscapes to be captured via photography. No matter where you are traveling, there are unique landmarks, monuments, sights, foods, or landscapes to be photographed. When photographing an object or food, have it be the central subject of your picture. You want to have a simple background that will not distract the viewer’s attention from the main object that you are photographing. When photographing humans, I find the most compelling photographs are candids that show an interaction. Capturing somebody at an interesting or unexpected moment can make for a beautiful shot. Landscapes are also a popular thing to photograph, especially when traveling. Nature, sunsets, or cities provide for countless beautiful scapes to capture.


3. Find a Different Perspective

The most unique and eye-catching photographs are those which are taken from a different perspective. A picture stands out the best when its photographer decides to go out of the box. I like to experiment; photographing the same subject from many different angles. Sometimes the one you least expected will turn out to be your best photograph! This skill can also be what separates your image from hundreds of others on your follower’s feed. Once you develop an eye for angles and perspective, you will become a more skillful and talented photographer.


4. Lighting is Key

Although this may seem like a given, light is actually the basis of how a digital camera functions, and is vital in any type of photography. Whether it is a person, object, landscape, or food, when shooting, it is crucial to have good lighting. I always play by the rule of having the light behind the photographer’s back or behind the camera that’s shooting the picture. This will allow the subjects of the photograph to be best highlighted. It will allow an even balance of light and shadow so that you won’t have too many dark spots or too many washed out ones.


5. Forecast Photography

Whether you plan to shoot outside or in natural light, your photos will turn out differently depending on the weather at the time you take them! It’s a great idea to use the weather forecast to your advantage when taking photos. Especially when traveling, you can’t always predict what the sky or lighting will be like at the moment you want to photograph something. One of my favorite times to photograph anything is Golden Hour. This is the point in the day either right after sunrise or right before sunset. It occurs when the sun is closest to the horizon, producing a warm glowing effect to whatever the subject may be in your photograph. The light is soft, magical, and golden of course! Blue Hour is the opposite, and can also be a beautiful time of day to take stunning photographs. A cloudy or overcast day can be great weather to take photographs in because it won’t make harsh shadows in your photo or too much exposure. Whatever the weather may be, use it to your advantage to take a photo with unique and beautiful lighting.


6. Get Appy!

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of free apps with presets and editing tools that allow you to make enhancements to your photos. Most either free or costing under two dollars, photo editing is becoming easier and easier now that it can be done by the touch of your finger. My ultimate favorite photo editing app is VSCO Cam. It allows you to take and edit photos with mobile presets, filters, and super advanced camera controls. I like it because it allows me to enhance a photo without making it look overly edited or forced. You can adjust settings like the contrast, clarity, white balance, and saturation with sliders and presets. Photofox and Snapseed are similar apps that have the same functions. When using a digital camera, I often upload my images to Photoshop on my laptop. While the software can be expensive and much more complicated than the simplified apps for your smartphone, I am always extremely content with the way in which my photos come out after I’ve edited them on Photoshop. Whether you purchase a fancy program or use the superb apps available, editing my photos is one of my favorite ways to make them stand out.


7. Practice Makes Perfect

Overall, practicing these skills by getting experience shooting in different conditions and editing your photos is what will make you a better photographer. I always have fun getting a group of my friends together for a photo shoot, or taking a walk around my neighborhood or the city and seeing what unique things I can find behind the lens that would make for an interesting photo. It’s the repetition of finding your perfect lighting, niche subject, or signature editing style that is what will make for a gorgeous Instagram feed, or simply a beautiful photo.

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