What do Absolut, Harley Davidson, Delta, Burger King and the New York Rangers have in common? If you’re thinking an eye for incredible imagery, then you’d be right. Each one of these beloved brands (along with a dozen or so others) have partnered with top Instagram influencer Angeliki Jackson to create beautiful images on behalf of their businesses. On Instagram—where she’s known as Astrodub— Angeliki’s talent comes to life.
A knack for color, creativity, composition and community has landed Angeliki among Instagram’s elite. Today, she boasts more than 133K followers. Last year, PASTE magazine named her among 25 of the most skilled Instagram photographers. And she has also served on numerous discussion panels on the topic of mobile photography, representing Apple as well as the Soho Gallery of the Digital Arts.
Needless to say, Angeliki—who has fashioned a custom filter set, dubbed Astro, for mobile picture editor Aviary—possesses a wealth of knowledge that can help mobile users take beautiful pictures with nothing more than their phones. She was gracious enough to share some of her tips with us in a comprehensive guide published earlier this year. Throughout the pages of Instafamous! A Guide to Taking Better Photos from 12 Instagram Influencers, you can find 25 tips for enhancing your mobile photos. Below, we share and elaborate on three of Angeliki’s suggestions.
1. Shoot in landscape.
“Nine out of 10 people will simply pick up their phone, point it at something cool and take a photo,” Angeliki tells us. She warns against such creative haste, however. “This makes for some distorted perspectives and dizzying images,” she says. “It also makes it really hard to crop as a square if, say, you were shooting for an Instagram post.”
To improve the composition of your photo, shoot in landscape. This will enable you to include more of the surrounding scene, which you can always crop out at a later time. “Turn your phone horizontally, and hold with both hands as you compose your shot,” Angeliki says. “This works great for landscapes, portraits and general everyday photography.”
PRO TIP: USE YOUR GRID
One way to take a steady, clear photo is to use your camera’s built-in grid function. “Make sure your grid is on so you can shoot as straight as possible,” Angeliki says.
If you’re using Instagram, simply tap the wrench icon on the righthand side, and then click into “adjust” (it’s the first option on the scroll bar). From there, tap on the grid—it looks like a hashtag—in the upper lefthand corner to populate your panels. Tap again for even greater precision.
Angeliki also suggests turning on your camera’s HDR setting, which is available on most mobile devices. The benefit here is twofold. While the grid helps to better align your photo, HDR mode—which stands for high dynamic range—optimizes your lighting and shadows. Most mobile devices allow you to manually turn this feature on or off.
2. Take a step back.
Most of us are guilty of this common photo faux pas: narrowing in on the item of interest without giving much thought to the people and objects that surround it. “I see a lot of pictures missing … the bigger picture,” Angeliki tells us. And yet, oftentimes, an object is made more beautiful, prominent or powerful because of the area around it.
PRO TIP: INCORPORATE A HUMAN ELEMENT
“The next time you pass by an amazing mural, wall, building, etc., consider stepping back a bit to capture more of the structure and art in your frame,” Angeliki says. “Try including the human element (i.e. a passerby) to show scale and add some life into your image. Try even crossing the street (but always be aware of traffic) to see how the shot will look on a wider angle or from different distances.”
3. Use your phone’s native camera.
Instagram recently announced that they’d be storing photos at a higher resolution than they previously were. Until now, Instagram images were sized at 640 x 640 pixels. Users should now note that Instagram images are 1080 x 1080. The change was said to be prompted by the introduction of larger mobile devices, such as the iPhone 6 Plus, which boast screens that are larger and more pixel-dense.
Still, when it comes to making magic with your mobile device, Angeliki encourages photographers to user their native camera. “There are thousands of photo apps out there,” she says, “but as tempting and convenient as it may be to shoot an image through them, most of them do not shoot in as high of a resolution as your phone does.” She refers to Instagram’s framing to illustrate her point. “If you shoot your picture in Instagram, not only are you stuck with a medium-quality image, but you are also stuck with a square.”
PRO TIP: IMPORT YOUR IMAGES
To ensure that she has complete control of the way her photo is cropped, and so that she always has an original image to go back to, Angeliki uses her phone’s native camera app when on the job. Then, she imports that image into whatever editing app she is using.