There is actually a science behind every perfectly crafted Instagram or Pinterest photo. Some might think it's as simple as just a post and a hashtag, but it really is all about the lighting, equipment, scenery, editing and so much more. Whether you are taking photos for fun or professionally, here are my top six tips to help you take your photography skills to the next level.

1. Use Natural Light

This one is a must, and it makes for some of the prettiest shots. Natural light can make photos look perfectly lit and whimsical. I always try to shoot on sunny or partly-sunny days, around midday and right next to an open window to ensure maximum light.

2. Learn Your Camera or Phone

It doesn’t matter if you have a point-and-shoot, a big expensive DSLR Nikon or Canon or even an iPhone 8. Take the time to read the manual and really learn how your camera works. Figure out the settings and features and before you start taking photos, and practice using it until you feel completely confident with it.

If you are just using your phone, take the time to actually through your iPhone camera settings. You will be surprised to find there are many new features available on the newer phone models.

3. Pick a Cool Location

Photography is indeed all about location. Some of the best outdoor shots come from picking the right, solid place. At this time of year, sunflower fields, pumpkin patches, waterfalls, hiking trails and even metropolitan areas are a prime spot for taking breathtaking photos.

4. Give Yourself Some "Props"

Props are a really creative way to add some personality to your photos. For my photoshoots, I like using magazines with well-designed covers, my favorite makeup products or jewelry and flowers. Include some props in the background to really showcase your personality.

5. Use a Steady Hand

To make your photos sharp, be as still and stable as possible when shooting. A little trick that my photographer friend taught me is to take a deep breath right before the big shot, that way I’m entirely still and hopefully my photos won’t turn out blurry. If you have a case of shaky hands, you can always invest in a tripod to anchor your camera. 

6. Always Edit

Even in perfect lighting with a high-quality camera and background, photos still need a bit of help. I like to use Photoshop or free apps on my phone to help edit my photos, like changing up the sharpness, clarity and exposure of my shots or to just add a quick filter. Don't want to spend a fortune on editing software? Use sites like PicMonkey or Fotor to edit for free.

Some more of the best (free) photo editing apps that you can download straight to your phone or computer are VSCO, Pomelo or ECP Photo.

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