We all know that selling your product is an essential part of running a small business. One thing that is crucial to doing this is having great photos of your product in action. Since many of us rely on our phones for business related activity, I thought I’d keep this tutorial very smartphone-centric. So today, I’ll be walking you through how to edit photos on your phone.
This is Week 3 our of June Skills Focus Series for Pineapple & Pine. This month we’re breaking down tips and tricks for Photography for Instagram. You can check out the Week 1 Skill on Lighting over at A Plush Pineapple. And you can the Week 2 Skill on Flat Lays right here! Keep an eye out for Week 4 Skill on Instagram Branding & Feed Aesthetics next week at A Plush Pineapple.
So You Took a Photo…
Ok, now first things first, you took a photo. I want to start by reiterating that you need a good light source to get a good photo. Editing is not a replacement for poor light; to over-exaggerate greatly, its like putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. But really, if your photo is dark and full of shadows, there’s not much you can do to save it. Re-light and shoot it again. For some tips on lighting, check out Sarah’s post on Lighting in Product Photography.
And next, I want to talk about your phone. Since I’m going to be talking about how to edit a photo on your phone, we should probably talk about our phones for just a second. I will be referencing my iPhone 11, but I will try to use general terms that can apply to other smartphone models. The iPhone’s have had a 12 megapixel camera since the iPhone 7s, chances are if you’ve upgraded in the last few years, your phone camera is definitely capable of taking quality photos.
I’m not a photographer or even an expert in the field, so I won’t even try to talk about the fancy DSLR cameras. Someday *crosses fingers*! But for now, I’m just going to walk you through my process of getting those freshly taken photos ready for Instagram.
Tools for Adjusting your Photo
Now I like to do my photo adjustments using the tools on my phone hardware, but not everyone has the same phone. If you don’t have these options, or you don’t like the results you are getting, check out Lightroom or Snapseed for your photo adjustments.
The first thing I will do is breakdown the editing tools that I typically use, then I’ll give you the “recipe” I use for my photos. These are just some of the editing tools available on your phone or editing app. Don’t be afraid to play with other features besides the ones I’m talking about today.
This feature will adjust your photo for you. It will apply a combination of adjustments to your photo. This will be the fastest way to adjust your photo, but may not give you your desired results.
Adjusting your exposure will adjust the tone of the entire image. With higher exposure, the entire photo will be lighter, while a lower exposure will make the entire photo darker. While this is similar to Brightness, it going to have a much more drastic effect on your photo as whole.
Brilliance is a more localized way to adjust your photo. It’s going to add brightness to darker areas of the photos, as well as add highlights and contrast. All of these brilliance adjustments will only effect the tones of the photo, not the color.
Highlights refer to the bright areas of your photo. Adjusting the bright areas of your photo can add definitions. But be careful not to overdo it as overly bright spots can be distracting.
This feature will adjust the shadows in your photo. While it can reduce the impact of an unwanted shadow in your photo, it is likely not going to erase it entirely.
The contrast feature will adjust the how the lightest and darkest colors of the photo contrast against each other. Reducing contrast can mute harsh tones of your photo, but it can also reduce stitch definition of your crochet project.
This one is pretty easy…brightness adjusts about how bright your photo is.
Saturation will effect the color intensity of a photo. Higher saturation will give you a more vivid photo. This is a great feature if some of your other settings have washed out your colors. But be careful as your photo can get a bit cartoonish with too much saturation.
Vibrance is a good alternative to saturation as it only adjusts the more muted colors and leaves the more saturated colors alone. If saturation is leaving your photo looking a little out of this world, try adding vibrance instead.
Warmth is a great feature to use if you didn’t get your lighting quite right. Studies show that people respond better to bright photos with cooler tones. So if your photo has a lot of yellow undertones, you can cool it off with this tool. Or if your photo is just too blue, add a little warmth to liven it up.
Sometimes when you’re adjusting your photo, you lose a bit of your clarity. Adjusting sharpness can bring back the definition that you may have lost.
How I Adjust My Photos…
As promised, I’ll give you the super secret recipe to which tools I use to adjust my photos. I typically start with exposure. I increase my Exposure slightly to lighten all the tones in my photos, being careful not to wash out my colors. Depending on how my photo looks after this first adjustment, I sometimes will add a bit of Brilliance so I can brighten darker areas without washing out the whites. If there are any noticeable shadows, I will reduce Shadows slightly, but I try to be careful not to reduce them too much as I lose stitch definition without shadows. If my stitch definition isn’t popping, I will sometimes increase Contrast to get them there. And the last thing I do is to add a teeny bit of Saturation if I’ve lost color.
Most of the time, I can get away with just Exposure adjustment. That is definitely my most used tool. Sarah, on the other hand, likes to increase her brightness by about 40%. The way you edit your photos is highly dependent on your style and the aesthetic you’re going for on your Instagram feed. (We’ll talk more about that next week!) I encourage you to play with the tools on your phone, or try out an editing app (Snapseed, Lightrooms,…etc) and figure out which settings you like.
Cropping Your Photo
Sometimes the best way to edit a photo is to crop it. Cropping photos is something that you especially want to pay attention to when your talking about photos for Instagram. How you crop your photos can totally change the style, but it can also remove imperfections and unwanted items. Here’s a few things to think about when you’re cropping your images.
1) Make it Square
Now, Instagram images don’t have to be square. Different ratios will show up in people’s feed. However, on your main page, Instagram will automatically make it into a square, possibly cropping it in a way that you don’t care for. I generally try to make most of my images square to begin with so that I can control how the image is cropped.
2) Remove Unwanted Areas
Many times when you’re taking photos, you’ll miss things. Maybe a shadow or a wrinkle, or perhaps your photo went outside the frame of your backdrop. Sometimes you might even want to remove “extra” elements to you can focus on your product more. Cropping can really save an image that may have seem like a lost cause.
3) Zoom In on Detail
Cropping is another great opportunity to zoom in. Most of our cameras and phones take high enough quality photos that we can zoom after the fact and still have a pretty decent image. Sometimes cropping in tight will give some texture or detail that we missed in the larger image.
Filtering Your Photo
I’m sure you’ve all seen Instagram pages that look so cohesive as whole. Many times this is the result of applying the same filter to all of your photos. By doing this, the tones of your entire feed tie together. Filtering your photos is a great way to give your photos a distinct “signature” on Instagram. We’ll talk more about branding and feed aesthetics next week with Sarah, at A Plush Pineapple. But for now, I’ll go over a couple different ways to filter your photos.
One tip when choosing a filter is a try it on a spectrum of colors. You might find that one filter makes your red tones really pop, but makes your green tones look washed out. Or it looks great on your products but looks terrible on skin tones. When I selected my current filter, I tried it on a series of photos with different colors, specifically greens, yellows, pinks and skin tones.
1) Use Instagram Filters
Now this might be the most obvious way, but I figured I’d talk about easiest methods first. Instagram has filter options built right in! You can preview how your photos will look with each filter in the app and adjust the strength of the filter with a slider. PLUS…if you click the “Manage” box at the end of the filter roll, there’s actually several more filters to choose from. If you decide to go this route, pick a filter you like, choose the strength, and stick with it for all your photos. Or at least until you decide to “switch filters”.
2) Use Your Phone’s Filters
Many smart phones actually come with built in filters. On the iPhone, this is one of the options when you click ‘Edit’. There’s a handful of filter options and a slider to adjust their strength. Just like Instagram, if you find one you like pick one, choose a strength, and stick with it.
3) Filtering Apps
There are also lots of photo editing/filtering apps out there to choose from. There’s Lightroom, Snapseed, A Color Story, VSCO, Canva…just to name a few. I am currently using A Color Story. One thing I liked about it was that I could make a custom filter by combining ones that I liked and then saving that custom filter. So now I can add “my filter” to my photos in just a few seconds. Filtering apps will give you far more options than your phone or Instagram, however, you often have to purchase special presets or filter packs to get these options.