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deluxemodern musings

Photography Tips

Pretty up your photos

February 18, 2015

Hello! Long time no blog. I always tell my clients: “if you’re not going to blog, then don’t have a blog.” And I thought about taking mine down. But I love to blog, and I want to blog, it just always seems to come last. Well, here’s to getting it going again, because I have some really fun ideas to talk about. (And shoot, I just came back from Alt, the most awesome blogging conference ever). But we’re here to talk about making your photos prettier. We’ll get right to that, but….

First. I just updated the blog & website over this past weekend. (Did you see the photos of our new studio? Did you? Huh)? Yes, I know, I update the site quite often, but never to this extent. It just didn’t reflect everything we do here, or encompass what I really wanted to show the world.  And, honestly, the blog was a train wreck: categories all over the place, and tons of old irrelevant posts that I didn’t want on there anymore.  This takes quite a bit of time to update. A whole weekend in fact. But the real reason for this post is to talk about photos. While cleaning up my blog I came across an old post called “Not a photographer” in which I had posted *cute* and highly filtered photos of little vignettes, wholeheartedly admitting being a crappy photographer, finding it funny that over 90% of my clients were photographers at the time. This was from 2010, I don’t even know if Instagram was around yet, but I certainly wasn’t on it.

Photography Tips

Over the years as a designer, I started to realize more every day how important good photos are for a business or brand, and how you really need to be able to take at least some of them yourself. (we’ve created some good ones to get you started, available here). Since that time I have tried really hard to improve my photography skills, and I see them getting better, so I thought I’d share a few of my tips here: things I’ve learned, and apps I like to use to make my photos prettier. Oh, you should follow us on instagram! These photos were all taken with my iphone, and are on our instagram account.

TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR INSTAGRAM AND MARKETING PHOTOS LOOK GOOD  (these are what work for me, not highly professional advice).

#1. Edit everything. Nothing gets posted anywhere without being edited. Ever. (see editing tips below).

#2. Do not take indoor photos with overhead lighting on. You’ll get yucky dark yellowy looking photos. Ew.

#4. Natural light is best, but keep out of the sun. Hang out near a window to take photos if you’re inside.

#5. If you’re using Instagram for business, keep photos of your kids and pets to a minimum. (unless that’s your business). People really aren’t that interested.

#6. Keep your photos clean and clutter-less. Less is more here, for real. Shoot your subject without a lot else going on: you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.

#7. Lighten and brighten: people respond to brighter photos with a touch of warmth. This is a biggie.

#8. Crop ’em: You can do some really cool things by cropping your photos. You can change the focus or the whole feel of the image by playing around with this.

#9. Shoot behind the scenes, what you’re working on, your desk (clean it first) or your cute new shoes. If you make a little effort to “style” it first, it will pay off.

#10. Should we talk more about styling in another post? Let me know.


APPS WE LOVE: (pretty sure these are just for the iPhone. Sorry Android guys).

#1. Pic Tap Go: is my very favorite photo app. Specifically the “lights on” filter. (you can adjust the levels). This is great to brighten and whiten your photos, and is kind of my secret weapon.

#2.  Tadaa: you can adjust the clarity of the images, exposure, contrast and saturation and add warmth, and about a million other cool things. I sometimes will add clarity to a photo here, then brighten it in Pic Tap Go, then open and crop in instagram, then hashtag away. (it’s a little bit of work, yes).

#3. Did you know there is a DSLR app for your iPhone? Tadaa SLR can literally give you a pro effect: blurred out backgrounds, sharp center focus, etc. It’s pretty cool, but takes some getting used to.

We have had so much fun improving our photo skills, we decided to combine it with our styling skills and created ready-to-go-styled stock photography. Of course we don’t use a phone to take these images, and we do use studio lighting. The photos available in our shop, you can see them here.

Our next post will give you some ideas on different ways to use the photos for your website, blog, social media, and marketing materials. I can’t tell you how nice it is to have great photos to work with when updating your site or marketing. Oh, and the new website homepage was shot spur-of-the-moment in the middle of a messy studio. With an iPhone.


  1. Stephanie

    oh what a great post with concise but extremely helpful tips. I didn’t know about those apps. I use Camera Plus and Vsco but those look interesting.
    Can’t wait to hear more about styling !

  2. Kirsten

    Thank you for these tips, Christine. I found your blog after watching a Creative Live Pinterest course. I love the warmth and sense of light in your photos.

    I second the vote for a post on styling. I’m currently searching for interesting ways of showing smaller paintings in a styled setting–on a shelf, a mantle, in a home office, etc. Also, I’m struggling with how to show behind the scenes art studio shots that are not too messy, but still retain a sense of authenticity.



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