If you've spent even 5 minutes on Instagram or other social media websites, you'll notice that some people seem to always have the best pictures. You might assume they're using professional photographers, experienced models, and special equipment. The good news is that none of those things are necessary to get kick-ass photos of you and your friends!
Whether you want to look your foxiest on your dating profile, make old classmates jealous on Facebook, or just have better pictures of yourself, these four handy little tips will help you get the perfect photos with just a friend in tow and a smartphone.
Rule #1: Location, Location, Location
Think about where you'd like to take the photos. Do you want a nature aesthetic or something more urban? Does your city have a downtown area with a lot of cool street art and interesting architecture? When thinking about location, consider the mood you want to set in the photos and also keep lighting in mind. A dark, dive bar might be your favorite hang out, but if the lighting isn't great it's going to be a lot harder to get amazing looking shots.
The easiest places to take great shots are outdoor locations on clear, sunny days. You get loads of natural light and a photo-ready setting -- whether you choose a local park or rooftop patio. You can get great indoor shots, but you want to be mindful of lighting. Choose places with big windows that get lots of natural light and shoot during the day. We've had lots of luck shooting in places like coffee shops, book stores and bars -- just as long as we shoot during the day and the location is getting great natural light.
This photo was taken outdoors on a clear sunny day with some local street art as the back drop. The resulting image is colorful and crisp.
Rule #2: Minimize the post-work
You can fix a lot of things in Photoshop after a shoot, but the less work the better. Make sure whoever is modeling is wearing a flattering outfit. Clean hands and nails are also a must, since details like that can show up in photos. If you're a woman, make sure you've done your hair and put on some make up.
Make sure you're shooting in a direction that works well with the lighting so your model isn't in shadows and the pictures don't come out looking too dark or grainy (unless, of course, that's the look you're going for). Use the HDR setting on your smartphone's camera to ensure that you're getting high quality images.
This outfit makes a casual t-shirt part of a put-together look by dressing it up with a crisp white skirt, a stylish handbag and some jewelry.
Rule #3: Take A LOT of pictures
This is one of the most important rules of getting great photos. Getting good shots is a numbers game. Even the plainest looking person can look much better in a photo if you get the right angles and light. Conversely, even professional models don't look great in every single shot. When we shoot lifestyle pictures for Boredwalk, we take at least 500 photos per shoot. If we're lucky, around 10% of those photos will be usable. Whoever is holding the camera should pretty much always be shooting. The more shots you take the better your chances of ending up with some shots you like.
This playful looking shot was one of several dozen playing with the dog. There were lots of shots that came out blurry or unflattering, but we just kept shooting the whole time the model was playing with the dog and managed to capture this still.
Rule #4: The best way to look natural is to BE natural
The easiest way to get candid natural-looking photos is to take candid photos. The reason most people look stiff and awkward in photos is because that's what they're doing when the photo is taken. They're standing still, they're forcing a smile, they're looking at the camera -- none of this makes for a great shot.
The best way to get a good photo of a person is to make them forget you're taking their picture. Make the photo shoot a social occasion, have props to interact with, have a conversation so the model's mind is on anything but the fact that you're taking pictures. If you have an especially hard time looking natural in front of the camera, sunglasses are a great tool for both looking cool and hiding the fact that your model might be looking at the camera too much.
You can't fake a smile this natural looking. The reason the smile looks great is because the model is mid-conversation and actually laughing. He's distracted by lunch with friends and not thinking about what the camera is doing.