Lessons From The Best

Lucy Laucht's Top 10 Photography Tips

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Lucy Laucht photo of Parisian river

In a world that's filled with photographers around every corner, there are a few that stand out through their ability to create vivid lines, striking colors, and distinct depth. In this new series, we're sitting down with a few of the world's most renowned photographers to hear their tip 10 photography tips. Next up? World-traveler and master of the iPhone lens, Lucy Laucht.

Tip 01

Use What You Have

Lucy Laucht black and white photo of palm tree

People often ask what I shoot with, and my advice every time is "the best camera is the one you have with you." While I use a DSLR for assignments and shoots, my iPhone is often the most unobtrusive way of capturing the world around me when traveling. Sometimes, the simpler — the better!

Tip 02

Create A Story

Lucy Laucht photo of woman riding horse

Ask yourself, what’s the story you want to tell? Think beyond capturing just one image. A good photo story is a series of images that communicate a concept or idea. Experiment with capturing a series: first establish a shot that shows the situation or environment, then focus on the details. Does your story have a human element? If so, play around with capturing portraits and candid reportage style.

Tip 03

Maximize Your Tools

Lucy Laucht photo of three young people sitting on rock in the water

Maximize the tools that are available to you while you're shooting. Some of my favorite tips? Clean your phone lens before taking a photo. Tap and hold on your phone screen to lock in focus. Manually increase or decrease exposure by moving the sun slider up or down. Use portrait mode for people pictures or from airplane windows.

Tip 04

Look For Light

Lucy Laucht photo of light flooding room through circular window

A little homework to find the light: set your phone to front camera mode, as if to take a selfie. Now find a window. First take a selfie with your back to window. Now turn around and take a selfie facing the window. Now take a picture with the window either to your left or right. There's a crazy difference, right? This is a basic lesson of knowing how to light your subject properly. The first photo, with the window behind you, is known as ‘backlit,’ and while backlighting can be a beautiful technique at sunrise or sunset, it’s generally terrible at midday on an iPhone.

Tip 05

Set An Alarm

Lucy Laucht photo of sun hitting cityscape at golden hour

I find iPhones have an amazing capability to balance exposure and colors at sunrise and sunset, sometimes in a way that my DSLR just cannot reproduce. So set your alarm or forgo cocktail hour, and get out there and shoot.

Tip 06

Make A Composition

Lucy Laucht overhead photo of coast with clear water

Consider the basics of composition including the rule of thirds principle, which is essentially breaking a scene down into thirds so that you have nine parts. By placing points of interest in the intersections or along these horizontal and vertical lines, your photo becomes more balanced. Use the grid setting to compose using this rule. (Also worth remembering: rules are made to be broken, especially when it comes to photography!)

Tip 07

Crop It

Lucy Laucht photo of boy sitting outside of museum

The right crop makes a picture. Play around with cropping your images to isolate your subject in the frame — your eye will immediately go straight to the person and distractions will be eliminated.

Tip 08

Make Movement

Lucy Laucht blurred photo of bridge and city skyline

Bring life to your photographs with movement and blur. I love to shoot during twilight, which is the hour before and after sunrise when the light is low. To add blur, simply move your phone quickly as you take a photo. This works nicely when your subject matter contains lights, or a human element.

Tip 09

Make A Style Yours

Grainy photo of women at small table by Lucy Laucht

Learn your editing style, because it can bring a picture to life. I favor the VSCO app (AV4 is my go-to treatment style), and I like to up the grain for a film emulation. I also sharpen and add clarity to each image. Then I like to use Instagram’s native tools, and my edits usually include lux, brightening, and sharpening.

Tip 10

Give Space

Lucy Laucht overhead photo from aircraft of snowy mountain range

Lastly, I like to add white borders to my images on both Instagram and Stories because I like how they allow each image breathe a little — almost like prints on a wall. My go-to apps for this are Squareready and InShot.

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