Jun 30/17
By Ed Garcia

The camera you need is already in your pocket.

Every day is filled with countless opportunities to capture awe-inspiring images. It doesn’t matter where you are. You don’t need a model on the other end of your lens or to travel to the ends of the earth for an amazing shot. Some of my favorite images have been captured while out for a run at the park or on my way to grab lunch. The key is to open your eyes and take notice of your surroundings. Have you ever noticed the shapes painted across your walls by shadows as the light spills through your window? Or how much difference a slight shift in perspective can go in making a bad image a great one? All around us there are beautiful moments ready to be captured, especially when you least expect them.

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I own a large amount of camera gear, but it’s heavy, cumbersome and does me no good when it’s at home. It should go without saying that we all don’t need a $3,000 camera and $1,000 lens to take a great photo. I once heard someone say, “Not every picture is worth a thousand words. The value of an image depends on how much you give it to say.” For that very reason, I tell people it doesn’t matter which camera you use – your pictures will only ever be as interesting as you push yourself to make them.

The following collection of images were shot entirely with my iPhone 6s. Many were taken just outside of our offices. For editing, I jump between a few different apps: VSCO, Priime and Snapseed. I think VSCO gives some of the best options for general image adjustments. Priime offers great presets for tone/color adjustments on the fly. Snapseed lets you clone and clean up images just as you would in Photoshop. All the apps I use are free and generally serve the same purpose, so I would recommend using what is easiest or more comfortable for you. In the end, the composition should really be the star of your image – not the filters that were placed on top of it.

The key elements I look for when taking pictures with any camera are: light, lines and perspective. There are definitely a lot of other factors, but I believe these are the most fundamental.

  1. Lighting is important because it’s a powerful tool for creating a mood. Start training yourself to take notice of the shadows created by it. Are the lines it creates soft or are they sharp and defined? It’s those shadows that will give your images depth and shape the contrast of your image. Begin to experiment with light and when you see the results, think about the message they convey within your image.
  2. Lines help add visual interest to an image. If you take a closer look at any of my images you’ll notice I use lines to do two things. The first technique is using them to create strong vertical or horizontal lines. This will give your image some structure. The second technique is using lines to create some natural movement that follows your subject or draws the viewer into it.
  3. Perspective is a tool that goes a long way for telling a story. Before I take a photo of something for the first time, I ask myself, “How is everyone else taking this photo?” Odds are they are all shooting it from the same forward facing perspective. I’ve never seen the value in taking an image that has been taken a million times before. Instead of falling into this trend, see what happens if you take the photo kneeling down or perched up above everyone else? It could be better, it could be worse – but the odds are in favor of it most definitely being different. Try it whenever you are shooting and over time you’ll grow an understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

Hopefully this leaves you feeling inspired to look a little more deeply at the world around you. And the next time you are plagued with the question of “I want better pictures. What camera should I buy?” – maybe think instead, “How can I do more with what I have?”

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