Who doesn’t love scrolling and admiring the aesthetically pleasing Instagram profiles on your feed? While it may inspire us, it can also be a frustrating reminder that you don’t know how to take pictures like that. Well the good news is, you can and it’s not as hard as you may think.
Owner and creator behind Instagram photography account @itookitonmyiphone, Morgan German tells us how you can be just as creative capturing pictures with an iPhone than with an expensive camera, which she discovered after going to the barn with her friends and refusing to carry her heavy camera along.
With a minimalist approach, Morgan captures the raw and beautiful moments of horse and rider that emphasize the idea that anyone can take a decent picture of their horse without all the fancy equipment. Considering how iPhones have advanced since her first discovery, Morgan shares her most recent tips and tricks on building confidence behind the camera and capturing aesthetically pleasing pictures of your horse that will just simply make you happy.
See It the Way Your Phone Sees it
Many times we’ve seen a great photo with our own eyes, only to be disappointed when we actually pull out our phones to capture the moment. “For me, the most important thing to consider when I’m about to capture a picture is how my phone is going to see it,” says Morgan. While we may not be able to capture exactly how it appears with our own eyes, we can try a few different things to get us as close as we can.
The first thing to consider is lighting. Lighting is such a huge factor when it comes to photography and can make or break a photo. The most important thing to remember is to always take photos when there is plenty of natural light available. Don't wait until the sun has set to try your hand at photography! The pros can make dark photos work, but a naturally lit environment is more forgiving while you're learning. This will not only support the quality of the picture, but will bring details of your subject to life.
Another important factor to consider is the composition. Determine what is visible in your foreground and background, then work from there. With portrait mode, you can soften the background, but you still want to make sure whatever is in the frame of the photo is pleasing to the eye. We all know how frustrating it is when we capture a great picture, but an awkward horse show spectator is photobombing in the back.
Your Phone Has More Than Portrait Mode
Learning all about what your phone has to offer is key. Researching and playing around with all the features on your camera serves as a great resource when trying to expand your photo taking skills.
Whether it’s portrait mode, the focus “lock” feature or something as simple as using the grid tool, a lot about taking your photo game to the next level is simply learning about your machine. Morgan uses an iPhone, but almost all phones these days have excellent photo capabilities.
"The grid on the iPhone helps me a lot. From keeping my photos straight to determining where I want to place subjects, I can’t live without it. The iPhone also comes with a feature that lets you “lock” your focus which is handy.” Also to consider, on recent iPhones, the ‘mono’ mode can completely remove a background and leave it black or white which is great for headshots.
Change Your Perspective
In order to expect to get better at something, you must practice and practice...then practice some more. Go out and take some photos with your phone's camera and have some fun.
“I took so many photos before people started to respond to them and before I even felt they were worthy of publishing on my page,” says Morgan. Using your phone's built-in camera may be better than using an app, mainly because when you need to be quick to capture a moment, you don't want to have to worry about scrolling through to find the app (and we all know just how fast our horses can move).
It can be frustrating when trying to capture the “perfect picture”, but it’s important to remember to have fun and stay consistent. Don’t delete the photos you don’t like right away. Take a day or two and go back over them. Sometimes there’s a gem hiding in the rough or something you may have not liked before, now that it’s in a new light, it may give you a different perspective.
Don’t be afraid to play around. Be risky, make mistakes and learn from them. Looking back at pictures and seeing where you could have improved is a great way to better your skills. Also, be open to advice and comments. People love to tell you what they think about your work and it helps tremendously to have a second or third opinion.
A Filter Can Ruin a Good Photo
While filters can offer a wide range of breathtaking benefits, it can also backfire, making the image look heavily edited and lose its originality. You want your photo to look natural, so it’s best to keep the editing to a minimum. Apps like VSCO and FOCOS offer great filter options that are simple, clean and not too drastic.
Choosing about three filters is key when trying to keep your photos looking consistent and complementary to each other when posted on your feed. An advocate for a good app, Morgan says, “FOCOS is so important for the focus of the photo. I got it right when I got my 8+ (I saw an ad about it on Instagram) and if I had to delete every app on my phone except one, FOCOS would stay, no question. I’m able to adjust the focus of my photos after I take them and change the strength as well. I don’t think any of my photos would look as good as they do without that app.”
Photography Is More Than Fancy Equipment
Taking pictures with your phone should be fun. “You don’t need an expensive lens or a crazy nice camera to take a good picture of something you love -- you just need to love it,” she says. The point of using your phone is that it's something you have with you all the time.
Getting too caught up in one technique because it “looks” the fanciest can hinder us from capturing the really raw and beautiful moments. Adopting other techniques and inspiration tools is key for success when trying to better your picture taking skills.
"I started a mood board on Instagram where I searched for beautiful photos taken by everyday people. They weren’t posed, they weren’t set up, they were just taken, and that’s what it's all about. Enjoying the moment," she says. Inspiration is all around us.
Final Tips from Morgan:
Check out Morgan's work on her IG account or her website.
Read this next: Riders, I'm Here to Convince You to Make a Beautiful Instagram,