The Five-Minute Photo Fix: Take Better iPhone Photos Instantly

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Have you ever wondered how to get that crisp, clear, perfect image on Instagram? How some food photos look good enough to eat, while others look a little… ick?

In this week’s quick tip of the week, I’ll show you how to turn your food photo from “are you sure that’s edible?” to “holy cow, get in my belly now!” in less than five minutes. That’s no joke – it’s THAT easy. Really, the most difficult thing about this tutorial is not eating the cookies before I finished taking photos. 

The Five-Minute Photo Fix. Turn your food photo from "are you sure that's edible?" to "holy cow, get in my belly now!" in less than five minutes.  Really, the most difficult thing about this tutorial is not eating the cookies while shooting!

what you’ll need

Here’s what you’ll need to produce a studio-quality image in five minutes flat:

  • A spot near a window
  • Daylight (clouds or sunshine work!)
  • A sheet of white paper
  • Your object(s)

This little trick is all about lighting. By using daylight near a window and not in direct sunlight, you’ll create the nice, soft shadows. Is it cloudy out? Even better! The after photo in this post was actually taken on a very overcast day. With sunlight, your shadows will be a bit harsher, but cloudy will give you just enough light, unless of course, it’s thunderstorming.

the set up

The set up is so incredibly easy. Grab a spot near a window. Grab a sheet of white paper – even the simple, day-to-day computer paper works. As long as your object is smaller that the paper, you’re golden. Here’s a look at my crazy simple set up. It’s almost funny how simple it is:

The Five-Minute Photo Fix. Turn your food photo from "are you sure that's edible?" to "holy cow, get in my belly now!" in less than five minutes.  Really, the most difficult thing about this tutorial is not eating the cookies while shooting!

I lightly fold the sheet of paper to more easily prop the piece of paper up against an object behind the subject (in this case, cookies). When you shoot, you’ll be eye-level with your subject, which will give the image a nice, seamless background, much like a mini studio photo! There are more advanced ways to set up a lightbox for images like this, but this is the fast and easy, super budget-friendly method.

The Five-Minute Photo Fix. Turn your food photo from "are you sure that's edible?" to "holy cow, get in my belly now!" in less than five minutes.  Really, the most difficult thing about this tutorial is not eating the cookies while shooting!

See the above photo? The colors are off, the shadows are harsh, the background is dark. All-in-all, not a great photo. Do you know why? It was taken with the curtains drawn and flash on. The iPhone’s flash is not your friend in most situations. Turn it off! Always! Okay, almost always. There’s a time and place for everything, but when natural light is available, there’s no need for it.

You can easily toggle your iPhone camera’s flash: When your camera app is open, in the top right corner is a little lighting bolt. Tap it and three options appear: Auto, On and Off. Tap off and you’re good to go.

The Five-Minute Photo Fix. Turn your food photo from "are you sure that's edible?" to "holy cow, get in my belly now!" in less than five minutes.  Really, the most difficult thing about this tutorial is not eating the cookies while shooting!

Here’s the finished product with natural light. Open up that curtain, let the light in. Jump down to eye level and once your camera app is open, tap your subject on the screen to get that beautiful focus. With my final photo, I popped it into one of my favorite mobile apps, VSCO, brightened it up, sharpened just a bit and lightened the shadows. Easy as pie, right? Er, cookies.

Post in the comments your before and after photos using the 5-minute photo fix or tag me on Instagram @brendagdalton. I’d love to see how you use this quick method to improve your photos.

How To: Font Pairing for Beginners

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How to pair fonts in graphic design like a professional - Design tips for bloggers and online businesses by 835 Creative

What makes or breaks a design? Is it the size of the graphic? No. How about the colors? Eh, sometimes. But what happens if you have 8 different fonts in different sizes and you have no idea where to look or what some of the things say and now you’re totally overwhelmed and you’re thinking in run-on sentences because that’s what bad font choices can do sometimes? Bingo.

The fonts you use on your graphics for your website, social media and print materials can make or break or small business or organization. It can either make you look 100% professional, you have your stuff together and can provide awesome services or products… Or look like you’re running an operation out of the trunk of your car part-time. Choose your fonts wisely!

First, let’s break down some of the font terms:

TYPEFACE

Another word for font! You may hear your designer use typeface and font interchangeably. Don’t panic: it’s totally normal. Now you are prepared and can join the ranks of pro designers who dare never use the word “font.” Kidding, we all swap the two terms.

SERIF

A serif font or typeface that has lines attached to the endpoints or stroke of each letter. What does that mean? It means you’ll see little feet, known as a serif, on the bottom of most letters like the H, i, I, m, s, r and f in the graphic below. A terminal appears as a rounded end on some sans-serif characters, like a and f in the graphic below.

Examples of san-serif fonts are Times New Roman (below), Garamond, Bodoni.

Fun fact: Serif fonts have been proven to be more readable when used at smaller font sizes, such as large blocks of text since the serifs on each letter lead into the next letter more easily.

SANS-SERIF

Once you get the hang of serif, sans-serif is pretty self-explanatory. Sans = without. A sans-serif is a font without serifs, or lines attached to the endpoints. Examples: Arial, Helvetica (below), Museo Sans.

Fun fact: The font, Helvetica, has its very own documentary by Gary Hustwit. It’s not on Netflix Instant, but with a quick online search, you can easily find it online to stream or purchase.


While fonts can easily be broken down into even more categories under serif and san-serif, fonts are typically broken up into three categories: Serif, san-serif and script.

Here are some quick tips on pairing fonts for documents, whether you’re designing a logo, social media graphic, e-book, course or the hundreds of types of collateral for businesses.

USE NO MORE THAN THREE FONTS

This is a golden rule of graphic design, especially for smaller designs. It’s usually broken up into three categories: Header, sub-header and body text. Keep in mind that using the bold and italics on the same font does not mean you’re adding an extra font! Same font, different weight.

For social media graphics, I recommend only using two fonts. One can be your heading or a large, decorative text, and the other the body text (small-ish type that is often seen in paragraphs). Check out how I design my Instagram graphics:

You see two fonts in this graphic: The header and the body text. I repeat the header text at the bottom, in a different, complementary color for my brand to attribute the quote..
You see two fonts in this graphic: The header and the body text. I repeat the header text at the bottom, in a different, complementary color for my brand to attribute the quote..

On larger design documents like annual reports, media packets, brand style guides, etc. it’s common to see more than three fonts, especially to represent different sections. And of course, this rule can be broken ALL OF THE TIME… as long as you’re doing it right. Just starting out? Stick with this rule until you’re ready to branch out and can find fonts that complement one another.

PAIR TWO TYPES OF FONTS

Just because you want consistency in your brand identity, it doesn’t mean all of your fonts have to look alike! Pair a serif with a sans-serif, or a handwritten with a book font. Find a fun, script font and give it a modern, thin and sleek font to give it pizzazz. It’s like yin and yang.

Mrs. Glows  &  Museo Sans
Mrs. Glows & Museo Sans
Frontage  &  Futura
Frontage & Futura
Lovepen  &  Bodoni Smallcaps
Lovepen & Bodoni Smallcaps
Didot  &  Youngblood
Didot & Youngblood

NEVER USE SCRIPT OR NOVELTY FONTS IN LARGE BODIES OF TEXT

A good rule of thumb is if it is more than 5-8 words, it shouldn’t be a script font. It’s not about being a party-pooper, it’s about readability. You want your audience to know what important words you’re telling them, quickly and easily. The longer someone has to spend deciphering words, the less likely they’ll comprehend it and the less likely they’re going to keep reading.

Script fonts are perfect for big, bold headlines and logos. Anything else, you might consider swapping it for another font. Try to think about someone who may have never seen that font before, rather than the fact you can read it.


My favorite spots for fonts: Google FontsCreative Market and Font Bundles, all of which offer free, discounted and paid fonts.

Adobe Typekit is a great resource for free fonts, some of which linked above, if you are an Adobe Creative Cloud member. If not, click here to get any (or all!) Adobe Creative Cloud programs starting at less than $10 a month.

If you’re a current student, you can receive 60% off Creative Cloud, too.