How to Make Better Phone Photos

I make a living taking pictures and I spend my life on my phone obsessing about what I'm going to Instagram. These are the very basics of what I often see people doing wrong. Happy to go deeper. Open to requests!
  1. Clean your lens
    This is my number one pet peeve and probably the number one way I am annoying in person. Everyone's lens on their phone is gross from their hand/bag/pocket. Wipe it with your shirt and your photo will be 1000x better already.
  2. Level your frame
    If youre taking a picture of a restaurant or a store or a landscape or anything with lines in it, take a moment to see if your phone is at a 90 degree angle to the floor (straight up and down). Probably it isn't. This will immediately add production value to your photo, promise.
  3. Take a few
    It increases the odds you'll get a good one and there's no shame in not nailing it in one shot. Few do.
  4. Adjust for shadows or highlights on the fly
    As you're shooting tap the screen on the darkest part of your composition to instantly adjust exposure and brighten the image. Tap the lightest part to make it moody. Don't be afraid to have lots of light or lots of dark. For interiors tap the dark part and it will make windows go white and the space feel airy!
  5. Let's all stop VSCOing
    I can't take any more vsco filters, for real. They are a lovely company and gave me great press and I used them forever but the look is too much now and everyone's photos look the same!
  6. Try Darkroom App instead
    I started using Darkroom App recently AND I LOVE It. You don't have to load your photos into it, it has your whole library in it automatically. It has CURVES. You can make quick contrast/saturation adjustments and the interface is super easy. There are a couple preset filters PLUS you can save it with white borders for Instagramming a rectangle!
  7. Don't Yolo to death
    Recently @scoutregalia and I were in Hawaii, swimming with sea turtles. We watched 3 girls and a selfie stick pose for photos for 10 solid minutes (they were trying to get a good jumping "Yolo" shot in front of the waves. Then they walked down the beach and stepped on a kid playing in the surf because they were still trying to get the shot. We never saw them actually get into the water and experience life. Cautionary Tale!!!
  8. (It was this beach and it was bananas)