Step Up Your Instagram Photos

Ocean sunset photos, mountain selfies, and casual ‘relaxing in my vacation home’ shots are the stuff of many travel-lovers’ Instagram feeds. For us regular folks, aka not photographers, it’s easy to get jealous of the seemingly perfect photos. It’s natural to want to capture memories when on a trip of your own, but sometimes you just can’t seem to get the same kind of shot you see all over Instagram. Here are some tips to get the best photos to post or just keep for yourself. 

Use the right gear

No, we don’t mean you need a fancy DSLR camera. If you have one, great, but we’re here for those with just a smartphone! Smartphone cameras have come so far, that’s really all you need. That being said, a small, lightweight, and flexible tripod like this one, may come in handy, especially if you’re taking photos of yourself or you and your party without having anyone left out. It’s best if you can get one with a bluetooth remote so you don’t have to try to beat the self timer. These are light and easy to travel with, and keep you from propping your phone up on a precarious rock or wet, sandy log. 

Think about your composition

As a general rule of thumb, unless you’re going for a specific photo, it’s a good idea to shoot your photo horizontally. This takes in more of the scenery and you can always crop it to look how you want later. When it comes to framing your photo, keep the rule of thirds in mind. Imagine an image divided by two horizontal and two vertical lines. You then want to place the most important elements in your shot along those lines or at the points where they meet. Most phones will even let you turn on a grid that’ll help you visualise this. For iPhones, go to Settings –> Camera –> Grid to turn it on. Composition ties in directly with the background (we’ll talk about that next!) so be sure to look at the whole photo and make sure nothing is too distracting from your subject, this can usually be fixed just by moving around to different angles. 

Pick the right backdrop 

Along with the framing of your subject, the background is also important. It’s difficult to find a bad background on the Oregon coast. But keep in mind that if you want to put a subject in the shot like the converted bus you’re traveling in, your dog, you, or your kids, try to pick a simple background that isn’t too distracting. If you don’t have a plain background, position your subject so that the surroundings have natural or structural lines that lead your eye directly to what you want them to look at. Again, try different angles until you get the right look! 

Use your phones extra features to your advantage 

Knowing your phone and using the little features it comes with will be a huge help. For this example, we will be talking about iPhone features, however, most androids and other smartphones  have very similar features that are used in a similar way as well. First, make sure your photo is in focus! Most autofocus is pretty good, but it’s never a bad idea to double check. All you have to do is tap on the screen where you want the focus and it should register that. You can even lock the focus by pressing and holding for a second. If you’re trying to get an action shot, maybe of the sea lions at the aquarium or your kids running on the beach, hold down the shutter button and your phone will start taking a “burst” of photos. Later, you can go pick the best ones to keep. This will help reduce the risk of closed eyes or blurry shots. Playing with exposure can be a daunting task at first, but your phone makes it so easy! Gone are the days of an overexposed photo that’s way too bright to post, or a photo that’s just so dark it’s useless. All you have to do is double tap on the screen and move the slider up or down and see, real time, what looks best for your photo. 

Lighting is key! 

Lastly, lighting can make or break your shot. Especially on a mountain or at the beach, golden hour will always be the best natural lighting you’ll ever find. Golden hour is the first hour as the sun is coming up or the first hour as its setting. It gives your photos a nice, warm hue naturally and no harsh shadows, which makes it perfect! If you’re out to dinner, relaxing by the fire, or just in low light at your Sweet Home, have a friend hold up their phone flashlight and move around behind the camera until you get the right lighting, then snap away! Finally, if you’re trying to take a photo of someone or something with the sunlight behind them, use your focus and exposure tools together to make sure they aren’t just a silhouette, or turn on the flash (yes, even in the daylight, it will even out!). 

Your photos, whether they’re posted or not, are an amazing way to look back on and remember your amazing time on the Oregon coast in a Sweet Home. We hope this helps you elevate your photos and feel like a professional just with your phone! If you have any questions before booking your getaway/photoshoot, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-519-0437 or email us at We are staffed 7 days a week and waiting to help you easily plan a great, adventurous vacation in a gorgeous home, so you can Stay Relaxed!

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