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Top tips for taking the perfect Instagram snaps this Christmas – and common mistakes to avoid

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CHRISTMAS is all about spending quality time with family, opening presents – and taking the perfect Instagram snaps.

If you feel your Insta game could use some work, you’re in luck: An expert has shared her top tips for capturing the perfect festive photos.

Taking the perfect family photo this Christmas is easy when you know how

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Taking the perfect family photo this Christmas is easy when you know howCredit: Alamy
Pro snapper Charlotte Graham has shared her top photography tips

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Pro snapper Charlotte Graham has shared her top photography tipsCredit: Handout

Speaking to The Sun, pro snapper Charlotte Graham recommended holding back on the flash and asking subjects NOT to smile to get the best pictures.

Charlotte – who has more than 30 years of experience in TV, film and photography – also urged Xmas revellers not to tap the screen to focus.

Avoid using flash

When it comes to flash, less is more in most circumstances.

That’s because smartphones nowadays are great in low-light conditions, meaning your flash is more likely to wreck a photo than save it.

For one thing, the LED flare is useless at long distances, and using it up close can often lead to light reflecting back at the lens.

“Be very careful when using flash,” Charlotte, 57, said. “Use it too close to your subject and you can blow out [overexpose] the shot.”

“It’s generally not needed as most modern phones are good in low light.”

If your subject is in complete darkness and you’re a few feet from them, the flash can of course come in handy, Charlotte added.

It’s also good if you fancy experimenting with light by using the flash creatively, the Sheffield-born photographer said.

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Don’t ask subjects to smile

It might sound counterintuitive, but try to avoid asking your subjects to smile in order to bag yourself a more candid shot.

Requesting a cheesy grin can put people “in a weird space, mentally”, Charlotte said, which can lead to awkward poses.

Instead, just allow people to interact with the camera however they please to get a more genuine expression from them.

Of course, you or your subject might prefer a nice toothy smirk in photographs – it’s really up to you to decide.

Try out burst mode

One common technique used by photographers – particular wildlife snappers and paparazzi – is to make use of “burst mode”.

Also called “continuous shooting mode”, the feature allows you to take multiple shots continuously in a fraction of a second.

You can then pick out the best of dozens of shots, instead of relying on a single, Hail Mary shot.

In the business, this is known as “hosing them down”, according to Charlotte, as the camera’s rapidly closing shutter sounds like machine gun fire.

Burst mode is particularly useful if your subject is moving, which makes it trickier to line up the perfect shot.

On iPhone, you can activate burst mode by heading to Settings > Camera > Use Volume Up For Burst.

Next time you’re in the camera viewfinder, hold the iPhone’s volume up button to take a burst of photos.

Avoid tapping to focus

Tapping your phone’s screen to focus on something in the viewfinder is a common mistake.

While focussing on something in the frame can enhance an image, your phone is likely already focused on what it should be.

That’s because it’s got an auto-focus tool that picks out what’s most important in the image long before you can.

Focussing manually is, therefore, more likely to ruin your image than improve the final result.

“In general, don’t tap to focus,” Charlotte said. “Let your phone’s camera do its own thing, as auto-focus is very good nowadays.”

Rule of thirds

A trick that every photographer worth their salt knows is the “rule of thirds” – a technique that’s sure to take your Instagram snaps to the next level.

It’s a rule of photo composition that splits the frame into thirds both horizontally and vertically, leaving you with nine segments.

Placing your subject along the dividing lines helps you frame your photo in a way that’s pleasing to the eye.

For instance, your subject might take up two thirds of your frame, leaving one third blank.

Alternatively, the subject could fill one third of the frame and leave two thirds blank.

“In an ideal world, split your photo into thirds to give a balanced image,” Charlotte said.

Most smartphone cameras have an option to add a grid of lines to the viewfinder to help you with this.

To do that in iOS, head to Settings > Camera > Composition > Grid.

Instagram automatically places a grid in the app’s photo editing tool, too.

Be careful when zooming in

Many modern smartphone cameras have powerful lenses that can magnify an image using computer trickery.

While it may seem like a handy feature, you’re actually better off not using the zoom capabilities on a smartphone – or any digital camera for that matter.

That’s because rather than actually magnifying anything, your camera’s digital zoom is effectively cropping the photo, sacrificing picture quality.

If you have no choice but to use it, Charlotte recommends holding your device very still to get the best shot.

“Be sure to hold your phone very still, otherwise the photo will blur or you will lose your subject,” she said.

“Where possible, use a tripod to keep your device steady.”

I found an iPhone hack that INSTANTLY makes any videos look way better

In other news, Samsung is reportedly killing off its beloved Note smartphone after more than a decade.

Apple has announced that it will let customers fix their own iPhones for the first time starting next year.

The UK is fighting an epidemic of hack attacks targeting consumers and businesses, according to officials.

And, NASA has slammed Russia after a missile it fired into one of its own satellites forced the space station to perform an emergency swerve.


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