Authors, Bloggers, Self-development professionals and Messengers, Have you thought of shooting your own pictures, your own photos with your iPhone or smart phone camera, for your blog posts book covers and promotion? Have you already tried to auto-portrait yourself, or better, to shoot a proper selfie for your Avatar image but the results were not stunning and didn’t look professional enough? Well, watch this interview with Amy Jackson, read the following post, take notes and go for it. You can be an artist photographer too!

I am so excited to introduce you to Amy Jackson with whom we will discuss Subjects around photography: The type of photos which are good for book covers, how can you shoot your cover photos yourself, How can you make a pretty selfie for your profile, How to shoot for your blog posts’ featured images etc.

create your own covers with smart phone pictures, interview with Amy JacksonBut first, let me introduce you our special guest, Amy Jackson:

Amy Jackson is the founder of www.learnblogphotography.com where she empowers bloggers to ditch stock photos and learn to take their own. She also offers “Done For Your Biz” custom stock photo services for those who don’t want to learn, they just want it done.

Amy is a single mom to her 13-yr old son, who happens to share her passion for both skiing and photography. Amy is proud to be able to leverage her lifelong creative outlet and teach others how to benefit from photography.

Why would you want to make your own photographs instead of using stock images?

Of course, there are many stock photo banks – or image banks which are great to use, very cheap, and some of them are totally free… but… the problem is that these photos can be used by anyone, and on any extend. For blog posts, well, it is not that terrible to have a photo that has been used already, although it would be brilliant to be unique. When it comes to your own book cover though, really, you don’t want to have a cover photo that is around the internet more than 2000 times, right? And the problem is that even if you go and buy a very expensive photo from an online image bank, still, you might find this picture somewhere else as well. Only if you shoot your own pictures or if you pay a professional photographer you will be 100% that your cover look is unique. But… to pay a professional photographer might be a little costly, so, if your budget is low, I strongly recommend to try shoot the picture yourself.

How can you shoot your pictures for blog posts and book covers if you don’t own a DSLR camera?

Use your smart phone. Obviously. Nowadays, phones have really great cameras. Of course, owning a DSLR would be brilliant, but, if you are not a passionate photographer, why would you want to invest more than $1000? Make a good research though, if you are going to buy a phone soon. We recommend Samsung 7s, which you can purchase from Amazon.com. Check out those links.

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What makes a photo look professional?

  • Proper good lighting is essential. Try to shoot in bright light. if the light comes from one side, like in front of the window, this makes the image look more 3dimentional and it makes the hall picture a lot more interesting. Make sure you never shoot with the sun or the lighting source behind your subject and directly on the lens. The subject will look black… unless you want to make this effect for a specific reason.
  • Framing makes the difference. Most people who are not professional photographers try to put their subject in the center of the frame. That is not wrong if you have a single object, like an apple, with white background, but if you have a more complex subject with background and foreground, then you may choose to put it on one side to look more interesting and exciting.
  • Focus and out of focus. Make sure your main subject looks clear and focused. it is nice to have foreground and background a little blurry. If you have really good lenses and you can play with Iris, then keep in mind that the smaller the iris number is, the more bocket it will show in the background. If you shoot just with your smart phone, then there are many programs that they can help you do so in your computer. (Talk about cool online tools below)
  • Be alert on what shows on the background. Many times you will be really excited with your many subjects, but you need to take care what the surrounding shows as well. Once, I shot a wonderful picture of my little boy, and in the background there was a pair of slippers turned upside down… that didn’t compliment my picture well… you understand what I mean… take care of ugly buildings, garbage bins, cigarettes or dog p** on the street… things like that.

How can you edit your photos?

PinterestImg Smart Phone PhotosThere are many online programs, but there are also many applications that you can install directly on your smartphone. Here are some recommended tools:

  • Adobe creative cloud / photography: The best and most professional tool there is, and ever was. You many have it for only $9.99/month! Here is a link to check it out: http://www.adobe.com/creativecloud/photography.html
  • Free online photo editor: It is not bad, it helps you crop, rotate, flip, add filters and effects, borders and other goodies. Here it is: https://www.freeonlinephotoeditor.com/
  • Ipiccy helps you add many different filters, make your photos better, and add some edit on faces as well… quite professional even through free tool. http://ipiccy.com/

For your smart phone, you many download the following apps:

Find out more on photo edit tools at this recommended article: http://www.androidauthority.com/photo-editor-apps-for-android-337494/

Picture yourself: Selfies’ secrets revealed

With your smart phone, it is really not difficult to make brilliant photos of yourself. There are though something that you need to take care before you go out shooting, because you know how it is… the easier it seems, the most probable to make mistakes. So here are some rules, on what to do and what not to do:

Selfies Don’t

  • Never do “Duck Face”… come on… your lips do not look fleshy, they are just as if they are a duck’s mouth.
  • Do not put the phone very close to your face because smart phones have a very wide lens, and this tends to distort the images that are shot “close up”.
  • Do not shoot your pic in front of a mirror. Do not let the phone be visible in the frame as a reflection (of the mirror)
  • Do not shoot yourself in the toilet. PLEASE. It shows you were in the toilet. It really does.

Selfies musts

  • Get a selfie stick. The further the phone is, the better the shot will look.
  • Put your phone 25-30 degrees above your head level, this will make you look thinner, your eyes will look brighter, and your smile will look embracing and kind.
  • Make sure the sun or the lighting source is bright enough to give you good lighting, but not too bright because it will burn the photo.
  • Make sure the lighting source comes from around 45 degrees of your left or right side. This will brighten your entire face, but it will also bring some shadows, making your face 3 dimensional.

Other cool things to shoot: Backgrounds and abstract

For a book cover, sometimes all you need is an abstract nice picture for background, as the letters from the title, the subtitle and your name might take the entire space. Here are some ideas on what to choose for background:

  • Rainy sky
  • Forest from distance
  • Cloth, fabric, carpet and lace
  • Close up of materials such as wood, steel, rusted steel, marble, bricks etc.
  • Street graffiti on angle
  • Grass and flowers
  • Wet windows from rain, close up of wet from rain umbrellas
  • Waves in the sea, or rain drops in a lake
  • Waterfall close up
  • Food close up

Well, I believe that is enough information on starting your own photography career on your blog and for your book covers. Let me know if there is something you would like to add, or something you would like to ask us. I want to thank Amy for being with us and providing us with so much quality information. For more information on her work, you may find her at www.learnblogphotography.com or join her private Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/LearnBlogPhotographyPrivateClub and learn all about blog photography among wonderful, interesting and like-minded fellow members.