Anna-Alexia Basile is living her best creative life. From Banana Republic to J. Crew, the San Francisco-based fashion photographer has amassed an impressive client list and massive following on Instagram since starting her career at Refinery29.
Basile recently taught a course on how to create “pop portraits” with your iPhone as part of the return of Apple’s Today at Apple in-store series of workshops on creative topics like coding or design.
Basile gave The Standard some tips on how to make your smartphone photos stand out anytime and in any setting. As the saying goes, the best camera is often the one that’s with you.
“It really is such a special gift to be able to have these devices on us at all times. […] without the weight of a super heavy DSLR,” she said.
Here are some of his essential tips.
Always keep your eyes open
San Francisco is one of the most photogenic cities in the country. Basile encourages amateur photographers to pay attention to their surroundings, and if you see anything interesting, write it down by dropping a pin on your map app.
“I always tell people to keep taking pictures, to keep noticing the world around them, to really enjoy it and have fun,” she said.
Cataloging these spots can come in handy when looking for a unique place to shoot. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
The Painted Ladies may be a great Instagrammable backdrop, but “sometimes it’s nice to find a quieter moment in the city,” Basile says. In fact, she loves San Francisco’s POPOS, or public parks in private spaces.
Play with light and color
Speaking of light, pay attention to it. Let yourself be tempted by capturing the fleeting movements of light, or “play of light”, as it is called among photographers.
“The light game is so special because it’s temporary. It can last 5 minutes or it can last 5 seconds”, observes Basile.
When it comes to color, try one of Basil’s favorite techniques of layering similar colors on top of each other for a big, “beautiful monochromatic moment” or try another technique called color blocking for something more. “contrast”.
Also, don’t be afraid to bring fabrics, fun clothes, sculptures, or even crystals into your photo shoot. Basil recommends placing a crystal in front of your lens to create a kaleidoscopic “magic eye” moment.
Clean your lens
But before that, clean your lens! Everyday grime, makeup, and hand oils can easily give your photos a weird, blurry effect, which is why Basile recommends always cleaning your lens with your sleeve before taking pictures.
“Sometimes it’s the simple things that really make the biggest difference,” she says.
Adjust focus and exposure
Setting the focus can be another simple yet effective way to up your photo game. On an iPhone, for example, it’s quite easy to adjust the focus by simply holding your finger in the area you want to have raised.
“You’re basically telling your camera, ‘Hey, I want you to hold focus for this location,'” Basile said.
Adjusting the exposure on your smartphone camera is another easy way to take a clean shot, especially if your surroundings are a bit dark.
“You can actually just swipe your finger up on the screen, and it will increase the exposure, making the image brighter before you even take the shot,” Basile explained.
Widen your gaze
Rather than following conventional camera rules of working with a tighter lens, Basile encourages budding photographers to use the widest lens possible on your camera and get closer to your subject – perhaps even as he reaches out to you – to create “a more layered and dynamic image”. picture.”
“Rules are meant to be broken,” Basile said.
And while Basile says it’s always best to get closer to your subject, don’t be afraid to experiment with different zooms or lenses if you have them available.
“Having multiple lenses on the phone is so game-changing,” she said.
Think that you can only take panoramic photos from left to right. Think again ! Basile encourages amateur photographers to flip their smartphone camera over and try panning vertically to capture the full extent of an object. For example, maybe you want to show the scale of a tall tree, but it doesn’t fit in the frame. When this happens, don’t be afraid to turn the phone horizontally and pan up. Basile says it’s a great way to get a lot of information out of a photo with a very small camera.
Watch out for the wind!
While most people might think San Francisco’s iconic haze could make or break or photograph, it’s actually the city’s swagger that’s the bane of most photographers’ existence, Basile noted. Rather than giving a dress a nice swell or a nice play of hair, the wind can send a dress flying in a tricky direction.
“I feel like the problem with photography in San Francisco is always the wind,” she said.
In these cases, be kind to your subjects and help them adjust a stray hair or strap accordingly.