Life & Love

Pro Tips on How to Elevate Your Photography Game At Home

Because we’re going to be staying inside for awhile, we got tips on nailing the shot—whether it’s an outfit selfie, an artful nude or a professional headshot—from the comfort of your home

Pandemic life has been an adjustment, to say the least. As cities have gone in and out of (and back into) lockdown, we’ve become our own hair colourists, estheticians and office managers. We’ve staged Zoom weddings, gone on virtual first dates and turned our living rooms into candle-lit restaurants. And we’ve gotten pretty good at taking our own photos at home, snapping outfit pics, artful nudes and, yes, even professional-looking headshots chez nous. But there’s always room for improvement so that we don’t phone in our next sext with something that looks like it wasn’t downloaded from iStock. (Looking at you, Chris Evans.)

Since we likely won’t be taking croissant-eating selfies in the Jardin des Tuileries like Emily in Paris anytime soon, I got advice from Toronto photographer Briony Douglas on how to be Jenn in Toronto Living Room instead. Here, Douglas answers all of my most pressing questions about how to be your own best at-home photographer including tips for maximizing the camera features on the new iPhone 12 Pro. Plus, scroll through photos of Toronto content creators Donte Colley and Sarah Nicole Landry (a.k.a. @thebirdspapaya), all shot by Douglas on iPhone 12 Pro. 

Yes, you can take a good selfie even when there is zero natural light

Feel like you’re living in a dark grotto? Chic photos are still possible with Night Mode, which is available on most new iPhones and Androids. “This is one thing I love about the new iPhone 12 Pro—Night Mode is now available on the front-facing camera and it’s really good at taking selfies in the dark by sucking in the little light there is and illuminating your face,” says Douglas. Brace yourself for the next tip, which is so easy and genius, I can’t believe it never occurred to me before. “You can actually use the display of your iPhone 12 Pro to illuminate your face when taking a selfie in Night Mode, too by reducing or increasing the brightness of your display based on the look you are going for.” *Brain explodes*

Pandemic job hunting is real and it is possible to take a professional-looking headshot at home

With so many Canadians coping with layoffs because of COVID-19, LinkedIn has never been so lit. With Douglas’s tips, you can make sure your new DIY headshot is, too. “Natural light is your friend for this! Sunny days are actually not the best, but if you can pick an overcast day then the clouds act as a natural diffuser for the skin. For a dramatic effect, shoot inside next to a window.”

Read this next: How to Actually Apply for a Job Right Now

Wanting to take a pretty food photo doesn’t mean you’re more basic than Emily in Paris—here’s how to nail the shot

If being ringarde is wrong, I don’t wanna be right! Douglas concurs. “As Emily says, being ‘ringarde’ is essential to life. There are so many different tips and tricks [for how to shoot a cool food photo], but I love to go on Pinterest and find new inspiration there. One quick tip that I have from [a recent shoot I did with] Sarah [Nicole Landry, AKA @thebirdspapaya] is holding flowers at the base of the camera to create the illusion it’s being shot through flowers.” An aerial photo of my homemade frittata shot through flowers? Emily Cooper could never.

Read this next: Now’s a Good Time to Learn How to Sext

Artful nudes don’t have to be for anyone but you (or your besties)

Is it just me or are more and more people taking artsy nudes for themselves instead of a partner or lover? Douglas says the easiest way to elevate your artful self-portrait is to experiment. “First, make sure you are creating these because they make YOU happy! Second, the body is so incredible and to be able to use it for art is such a wonderful expression of ones self, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box and get creative. This can be done by coming in closer for the picture; for example, the curves of the body or a shot of just your legs. There are so many different pieces of art just waiting to be discovered.”

Sarah Nicole Landry shot on iPhone 12 Pro (Photo: Briony Douglas)

You can shoot a bomb outfit photo at home that *isn’t* a mirror selfie

This one is easy, even for us amateurs. “Bless the self timer on the iPhone!” Douglas tells me. “Or if you have an Apple Watch, you can control from there and see the photo your phone is seeing.” P.S. If you do venture outside for a socially distanced walk with a pal and need to capture her cute outfit, try playing with the new Wide Camera (available on iPhone 12 and 12 Pro). It’s got the fastest aperture of any iPhone and captures 27% more light. That means better pics in low light and tons of detail on both the OOTD *and* the backdrop behind her.

Who among us hasn’t tried to take a photo of a beautiful sunset or insane full moon and been gravely disappointed? Douglas says don’t give up!

When asked if it’s possible to shoot a sleek full moon shot, Douglas, a longtime artist and professional photog, says don’t get your hopes up. “I am more than 30 years old and have never taken a good full moon photo for the life of me,” she says with a laugh. “That said, a sunset you can totally nail! If you have your iPhone handy, the AI will correct everything to make sure you have perfect colours captured.”

Read this next: The Best Gift for Your S.O. Is Knowing How to Take Good Pictures

Night Mode will make you feel like a legit photographer

When all else fails, shoot at night and play with colours. “Night Mode is by far one of my favourite features of the iPhone 12 but like with anything, you should play around with it and see what works for you! For the images [I recently shot] with Donte [Colley], I used Gels over a light but you can create this effect at home as well. If you place a sheer coloured material over a low light, like a red scarf for example, you will make the whole room a dark red! Play around and have fun with it. For any Night Mode shots, make sure you and your subject stay still and look for a scene with just a tiny bit of ambient light behind your subject.”

Scroll through for more of Briony’s shots with Donte and Sarah, all shot on iPhone 12 Pro: 

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