Practice Makes Perfect

“The best camera to have is the one that’s with you all the time,” NatGeo photographer Cotton Coulson states. I know I always struggle with taking the perfect picture whether it’s for Facebook, Instagram, or anything in between. There are so many photography tutorials on the web so here are some of the best tips that I’ve taken away from my favorite ones.

If I haven’t mentioned it already, I have a food Instagram account (@foodforthought11) so I think a lot about how to take the perfect picture to get the perfect Instagram. These three articles, 10 Rules of Photo Composition, Tips for Better iPhone Photography, How Instagram Filters Work, give several tips that will help you shoot the perfect insta or just capture a unique photo!


You need to choose your subject and camera viewpoint that makes it the center of
attention in the frame. That way all of the other objects won’t take the spotlight and will just be apart of the background. Secondly, as you may already know, putting your subject in the center of the frame makes for a boring photo. Instead, we should try to move our subject away from the center and balance it with everything else in the scene (areas of contrasting color or light). Although this may sound hard, practice makes perfect.

Focal Point

Meyer says that you should always fill the frame. To do this, you should “zoom into fill the frame, or get close to the subject in question.” (1) This makes it easier to control what’s in the background and can give you a more interesting take on things. Sometimes you need the background, sometimes you don’t, but you should always pay attention to it. Look at your subject and try changing your position or using a wide lends aperture. This can replace a cluttered background with one that works or even put your background out of focus.

A third thing to think about is lines. Lines exist everywhere and can actually control the way people’s eyes move around the picture. Converging lines can draw you into the image while curved lines can lead your eyes on a journey around the frame.


Always remember that light is key. “But my favorite light is bright overcast, open shadow, or even a bit of fog” Coulson states. The key to this is to be really selective about how to isolate and frame your subject to include/exclude certain colors. Meyer claims that “Bright primary colors really attract the eye, especially when they’re contrasted with a complementary hue.” (2) Another way to do this is to exclude a bright splash of color against a monotone background. It’s all about the subject, subject, subject and what works with the story you’re trying to tell.


Here are some specific uses for all of the Instagram filters:

  • Clarendon: It intensifies shadows and brightens highlights in your photos. Use when you want colors to pop.
  • Gingham: This filter gives a more vintage feel when you’re trying to be hipster. If using with a darker photo, it gives it can give it a yellowish tone. If using it with a photo filled with light, it gives it a brighter, dreamy look.
  • Moon: This filter is bed used when you want a black & white vintage look.
  • Lark: This filter brightens your images and intensifies all of your colors. Use this filter with outdoor nature landscapes or portraits.
  • Reyes: This filter brightens up your image while giving it an old-time feel. This filter is best used for portraits if you’re trying to hide any blemishes on your skin.
  • Juno: Intensifies colors, especially red, yellow and orange. This filter is best used for street photography.
  • Slumber: This adds a yellow mask which is best for dream-like photos. Use this filter if you want more of a vintage and romantic feel.
  • Hudson: Highlights the cooler colors (blues & greens.) Best for outdoor shots.
  • X-Pro II: This bumps up contrast, adds a vignette, and makes all of the colors warmer. Usually best for wider landscapes of cities, fashion, and nature.
  • Lo-Fi: Brightens colors by bumping up the saturation while adding shadows. Definitely best for food photography.
  • Inkwell: Also known as Instagram’s basic black-and-white filter.
  • Helena: Adds an orange and teal vide, usually best for outdoor shots like the ocean.


I think one of the best parts about photography is that anyone can do it. Always remember to keep your iPhone dry, use two hands for stability, and have it on you at all times because you never know what’s going to pop up in front of you!


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