How To Take Instagram Worthy Photos With a Smart Phone


*Outfit sponsored by @lovechicos

Have camera phone will travel

While this falls a little outside of the kind of life advice I usually give I still believe in sharing life hacks to make your life easier and while no one HAS to take photos for Instagram or any other social media platform the reality is most of us do. In the rare case that you don’t do the social media thing, but maybe you just want good pics to send to family and friends highlighting an amazing vacation or some other milestone, I still want to share my tips with you because I get A LOT of questions about who takes my pictures and what kind of camera I use. Although I don’t think my photos are all that amazing (I can certainly point you to some accounts with killer photos- @squarepearls, @moreturquoise and @JanetGratefulGardenia and @chicoover50 are some of my faves) I do think my photos are pretty good for mostly ametuer shots. I don’t typically use a professional photographer with a fancy camera and out of this world editing skills, but I have worked with two of my favorite local photographers on occasion. But again, the bulk of  my photos are taken with just an iPhone by my youngest daughter, although I have to admit that  she does have a pretty good eye!

Oh shoot…


Here’s my layman’s advice on getting get shots with just your smartphone

  • Always face the sun. In order to get natural lighting right, you or your subject should be facing the light. Not the person holding your camera.
  • Set up the shot. I like to shoot quickly and there is nothing more disappointing than taking a ton of shots just to realize the lighting doesn’t work or there is something weird about the background. I always ask my partner to stand in for me and I take the first shot. This way I get to see what the shot will look like. Expecting another person (unless they are a pro) to know what you want might be asking too much. Always take a test shot.
  • If you are photographing a person or (being photographed) take the shot low. I sometimes forget this in my haste and you can definitely tell. I am 5’3 and I like to look as long and lean as possible. Shooting low elongates you. Ever wonder how Kim and Kourntey look so good in those full body shots? My new intern took my featured shot and I love how it turned out. Thanks Sammy!
  • Look for an interesting backdrop or scene to make your shot pop. I was totally oblivious to this and would often walk right past a great place to shoot. My daughter would literally  have to grab me by the hand and say “Mom look at this wall!”
  • Ignore the people around you-in the nicest way possible. This was the toughest thing for me. As much as I post, I’m not really a look at me kind of person. I don’t mind being noticed but I don’t like asking for it. So it felt very weird to have a mock photo session in public. Luckily for me I have been able to spend time around other bloggers who have showed me how it’s done. My friend @frostedevents took great video while walking down a crowded NYC street. She’s definitely IG story goals. Her confidence inspires me! My older daughter always reminding me sternly not to worry about the people around me helps too.
  • Use an app like Snapseed or VSCO-to help with lighting. I don’t do this as much as I should but I’m trying to remember to use it more.
  • Only post your best shots-I took a picture of a friend and coworker a few months back and after I snapped the picture she walked away. Later when she looked at it she said “I don’t look good.” You’re the only one who always looks good in photos!” I told her that I did think she looked good but she only had one shot to choose from. I never take only one shot. I have no problem being honest about that. I take SEVERAL pics but then choose the best of the bunch. There are plenty of pics that don’t make the cut. No one is photogenic ALL of the time.
  • When all else fails laugh-laughing at myself in photoshoots has produced some of my favorite shots. So if you aren’t into the stoic faced supermodel post then laugh a little or a lot and I bet you’ll get a great pic and a good belly laugh.

That’s a wrap

I would like to purchase a nice camera and take a photography class in the near future as I do believe there is a difference in quality, but until then my iPhone will do. I just ordered a Socialite selfie light ring for my iphone. I will have to update you on how well that works. Do you have photography tips or questions? If so please leave them below.


Until Next Post,

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Tonya Parker is a counselor, author and certified life coach who believes in helping women look and feel their best! Ambassador for O, The Oprah Magazine and author of Single Mom Chic

14 thoughts on “How To Take Instagram Worthy Photos With a Smart Phone

  1. Very informative Post. My kids take my pics most of the time too and sometimes I use the self timer and tripod with my camera. I’m also looking forward to taking a photography class in future. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great advice Tonya. I’m so flattered by the mention in the post..thank you so much. I really need to get more into iPhone photography. The best camera is the one you always have. : )e


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