066 Taking Amazing Cell Phone Photos with Amy Jackson


Amy Jackson is the founder of www.learnblogphotography.com where she empowers bloggers and entrepreneurs to ditch stock photos and learn to create their own high-quality biz photos. 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 14-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.


Welcome to The Art of Living big. I’m your host, Betsy Pake, and this podcast is designed to share interviews, stories, and new ideas to help you redefine what could be possible for your life. Thanks for listening. Now let’s go live big. today’s podcast is brought to you by audible. You can get a free audio book download and a 30 day trial by going to audible trial comm backslash live big. They have a million jillion titles, okay, 180,000 different titles for you to choose from. You can listen to it on your iPhone or your Android or an mp3 player. I love audible. In fact, just this morning driving my kid home from school, I started to listen to white hot truth.

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you guys something to look into. You can get your free trial over at audible trial, comm backslash live big. And now here’s the show.

Hey, everybody, welcome to this show. I am here today with my friend Amy Jackson. Hey, Amy.

Hey, how are you? Hey, I’m

good. Thanks so much for being here with me today. Tell everybody a little bit about you and what you do. I’m I’m excited about this. And I’m excited to learn a little bit more about how this all goes down. So tell everybody about you and what your business is. All right.

Well, I am a single mom, my son is 14. And he’s a fabulous young man. And since other people have told me that I am not afraid to say it. So you believe it right? Yeah, yes, you know, it’s true, then. Um, but I am the founder of learn blog photography.com, where I teach entrepreneurs and bloggers, photography for their websites, using your smartphone. So cool. And if anybody’s listening and they’re like, well, I don’t have a blog. Don’t shut it off. Because

you might teach us how to take a really good profile picture or cover photo, right? for Facebook. Yeah, you can use it for anything.

Yeah. Right. Yeah. Go even, you know, just general social media photos,

right? Yeah. If you really want to get your Instagram down, this is the podcast to listen to which that’s another story. We might have to talk about that, because I really struggle sometimes with pictures. And I use my smartphone for a lot. I have a fancy camera, but I don’t even feel like because I don’t know how to use it. I don’t feel like it really takes better pictures than my iPhone does. And

I heard that before,

right? And unless I am in like the perfect environment where I’m at my house and I have all the lights and all that stuff. Like it. Oh, it seems like a crapshoot. So tell. Tell me how you how do you do this?

Well, that’s not a short answer.

Teach me Your ways. Yeah. Well, so let me let me go this way first. So do you think people can take really great pictures? They don’t need to purchase a really expensive camera?


Are you a photographer like by trade? Or did you just get really good at the smartphone stuff?

No, I’m, I’m actually I work in the medical field. But I was always that person that had a camera in their hand. Whenever they went to an event. They’re like, Oh, we need a picture. Hey, where’s Amy? Yeah, yeah. So, um, and then I wanted my very first DSLR it was at a company Christmas party and I wanted this fancy camera and I ended up using it just in auto mode, like everybody else would write for a couple of years until I was like, You know what, I have this really cool camera and I’m not doing it justice. So I decided to learn how to do you know how to take it out of auto and actually use it in manual mode. And then I thought this is pretty fun. I really really like this Yeah, so I you know, went from just learning how to use manual mode to actually doing it kind of on the side so but when I got into blogging and photography wasn’t my first blog, I was tired of dragging it out all the time. didn’t want to have to you know, pull out the big heavy camera or take it out with me because it gets really cumbersome sometimes depending on what it is you’re doing.

Yeah, so like I always have my phone with me and so if I’m out and about So back in the day, I used to carry like a little one of those little skinny like cameras do you know I mean, it was a camera. It was before phones had cameras, and I always had it in my purse. So I always had lots of pictures. And I always really liked that so I don’t like carrying around like a big camera especially if I am like on vacation because then I feel like a tourist right? So

So having like just your phone with you just makes so much more sense really. In now that the and I’m not even talking like the iPhone x which is about the But in general, like, I just had an iPhone six, and now I have the Galaxy S seven because the six died. But, um, they take fantastic photos, there are some instances where you would really, really have to get a fancy camera to get like the perfect shot, but it’s becoming much less often because they really do an amazing job. So, right. Yeah, most of actually, now all of my blog photos are strictly done with the camera. And if I can’t get the exact Look, I want with just, I mean, with just my phone. There’s always there’s a ton of editing apps out there. And some of them are truly specialized. So I think one of the hardest things that people, especially if people were are used to using something like Photoshop, or even the free versions of those, they they can get kind of an all in one approach just by using that one program. But the apps nowadays are super, long, fantastic, and some of them, but you may need to use multiple apps to get the same look that you want to achieve. But usually you can actually do it with just your apps. So

Oh, cool. Okay, so let’s talk about I want to talk about the apps. And I want to talk about like, actually how to, like set up a picture like, Is there some sort of trick if you if you’re just using a smartphone? So let’s talk about that first, like when I go to actually take a picture? Is there something that I should always be looking for? Or should I always be like, in natural sunlight? Or like, what is the trick that I’m supposed to be looking for? Is there something

the no extra equipment needed? version would Yes, require sunlight? However? Like, not all sunlight is good sunlight, I guess. Okay. So you don’t want like the sun beating through the window and hitting your scene, whatever you have set up, you actually want it just outside of that. So it’s bright, but it’s not got that pounding light on it.

Right? So it’s like not too hot. So it’s like, where it just is kind of lit up. But not you can’t tell where the sun is beating in.

Right, right. Kind of like, you know, if you had like houseplants and some of them say indirect light. Yeah, same scenario, you want to get a bright location, but not where the sun’s hitting us.

Okay. All right. So I want to be where it’s nice and bright, but not where I’m like, really, in a direct beam of sunlight, where I’m squinting or wherever, whatever I’m taking a picture of looks like sort of washed out. Right? is there other things I should be looking for?

Um, well, some of that will depend on what you know, what your purpose is. So like, obviously, props are going to be hugely important. Otherwise, you don’t really have anything you’re taking a photo of. So but that’s gonna depend on your individual niche. So I mean, if somebody is an entreprenuer, and they’re kind of doing a digital thing, you, obviously you get the photos of somebody sitting at a computer or, you know, generalized props that kind of represent that. Really, though, it depends on whatever your niches but and I think, personally, less is more. Okay, this doesn’t tell you that. And so part of you don’t want a crowded scene.

Right? So like, no white space. Right? length rise tends to be better. Yeah.

Yep. Definitely.

So when I’m going out to take pictures, like, Is there a certain kind of, you know, I’ve heard people talk about the thirds, like looking at the picture in terms of thirds.

Is that is that anything? Do you know what I’m talking about? Absolutely. So it’s called the rule of thirds. Okay, yeah. You can on yourself on your smartphone, you typically I’ve never run across the phone that can’t do this. There should be a grid function that you can turn on. So as you’re looking at your screen, you can see the it’s kind of the Tic Tac Toe board.

Okay, yeah, yeah,

yeah, that’s your grid function function. And so the rule of thirds says that you’re going to line up your props or you’re subject to your person, whoever you’re taking a photo of, along one of those lines, whichever it is vertical or horizontal. And the most important aspect of it is found at one one of the points where two of those lines cross. So if you look at those points, yeah, no, yeah, two lines cross. And so you want to line it up, like so if it’s a person, you typically want their eyes fall at one of those points.

Oh, interesting. Okay. Yeah, yeah, I see what you’re saying. So I’m looking at my phone now. And I have the grid, which I never noticed that I even had the grid on until, until I looked just now and I see. Okay, so if I’m doing it with a person, I would want to have their eye kind of in the middle of one of those


or in the middle of the line. So the intersection,

yeah, intersection point where two lines meet. And then which point is really depends on how you line things up. Yeah. So if you’ve got their head down in the bottom corner, and there’s nothing else surrounding them, you know, you wouldn’t want them all the way down at the bottom right hand corner. Right?

Right would look off, right? So like it

almost like us, like,

what look like what would look appealing if you were looking through, like Instagram,

right? Like, what would look appealing? Where would it look the best, right? And that that concept, or that principle is actually used a lot. You know, even if you watch TV, a lot of times, they don’t if there’s just one person talking, a lot of times they’re not centered. It’ll be off to the side, right? And, you know, I even I fell for it many years ago now. And we had taken a photo of my son and I and I was like, why does that lady not put us in the middle? It looks so stupid. You and then I was like, oh, in hindsight, I was the idiot.

Right? Yeah, cuz you don’t realize it? You think okay, and I think probably cuz like, You grabbed a camera when you’re like a little kid, right? And you start taking pictures, and you put everything right in the middle. But really, if you’re looking at it from more of a aesthetic point of view, it does look better to have it more to the side. And a lot of cameras come with the filters in them now. I think that’s fairly new. Like, well open up the camera, like I open up my iPhone, and I’ve got options for a filter, do you think you should use those or just wait and change the photo inside the app? While you’re shooting? Yeah, I’m not a fan of actually using a filter while I’m shooting. Okay.

I, if you’re like doing a brand new thing, and you always have the same filter, I mean, maybe you can do that. But I like I like, I like to be able to be creative. So I want it the way it is. Yeah. And then I will apply my filters later. And a lot of times, filters, especially Instagram filters, they are like overdone, you really need to go in and tweak them and not just use them as at face value. Right as they are. Yeah. So that’s why I personally like to just take it natural. And sometimes I actually love black and white. So, you know, I’ll change the photos that I want black and white. But if I don’t, then I want it natural, you know, in color. And I like to be able to have some variation. But

does it change? Like if I take a picture in black and white? Is it different than if I turn the picture of black and white later? No,

it’s a version. Okay. I mean, you could have two versions this way. This way you could, you know?

Yeah, make that choice, right, then I can look at it and compare it with stuff and have a choice. If I’m doing it just in the regular

like real life kind of version. Right? So you could have it in color, but then you can save a copy in black and white.

Right? Yeah, yeah. Okay, so I’ve got light, it’s bright, but I’m not in direct direct sunlight. And then I’m using that rule of thirds, where I’m putting the person right in the crosshairs, right their eyeball right in the crosshairs to help me kind of line things up. And if I’m taking things like just with the regular no filter just the way they are, then I can go into the apps, and then I can adjust and make things look the way I want. Is that

right? Correct.

Okay, so talk to me about some of the apps, what would I use? or How could I make this look good?

I love apps. So sometimes they vary based on what platform you’re on. But the one app that I love, and I should back this up, obviously, your inherent camera app has some editing capabilities. But I much prefer actual, like, downloadable apps for editing, because that’s really what they’re made for this, you know, the apps. I think the the editing portion of the camera app is kind of like an afterthought, in my opinion.

Right? Yeah. Like they just have to have something.

Yeah, yeah. Right. So my number one app for just generalized editing is Snapseed. Okay, that is on both and it’s free.

Okay, so I have Snapseed. But I don’t know that I’ve ever really used it. What do you because it’s a little confusing when you go in there.

What What if? And now it just got worse? because let me tell you last week on Tuesday, I did a tutorial in my group. Yeah. Going over a specific tool. And then over the weekend, it looks 100% different. They did an update and totally revamped the entire thing. And I was like what

I do they do that. So frustrating. So

tell. Do you have a what’s your group? So if people want is it just for your paid members? Of course, or is it just an open group? Nope. It’s an open group. I mean, it’s closed, but it’s free. Yeah, yeah. What can people find that

they can search, learn blog photography, it’s actually really long. I didn’t think of this through ahead of time, but it’s learned blog photography, photography, private member’s club, okay. Okay, so it’s in there, you could probably just find it under learn blog photography.

I’ll put a link in the show. notes to. Okay, that way people would

say, Oh, perfect. Yeah, great.

Okay, so, so in there, you do tutorials on this kind of stuff. So if we really want to see it, because I need to see it. I need to tutorials. Yeah, like I got to see. So that’s the place where people could go and really learn more and get more help with this.

Yes, absolutely.

So what do you like about Snapseed? Because I know it does like a sharpening feature. And I’ve heard people say, Oh, you got to do the sharpening and Snapseed. But I’m like, Yeah, I don’t know what I don’t really know. Opening means, and I can’t use Snapseed. So tell me more.

Um, well, sharpening itself is just kind of makes it a little more crisp and a little more. I don’t want to say detailed, but

I knew what you’re saying now stand up.

Yes. Yes. So how am I ever?

Yeah, okay. But no one had done that. However, I would say.

However, you can overdo sharpening and it’ll look horrible. And I had maybe a little bit. Yeah, but it’s like, okay, so it’s gonna send generate some fine lines, too. So if I go and overdo sharpening, you know, some of the ladies might not like the way the people I

do not want any sharpening. I need dulling. Now you overdo an app to like the other way, like, I see some people and they post and it looks like they’ve been faced tuned to the point where you’re like that, that doesn’t mean at least try to fool me.

You don’t look real now. You look like a doll. Yes. Yeah, exactly.

So be careful not to overdo any of these right? Hmm,

yeah. Sorry. Yes, it’s, it’s, it’s like a fine line that you really have to, obviously you tune in to what you like, but you have to really keep in mind, you don’t want to overdo it. And that’s one of the problems with a lot of the filter apps that you can use. Just because it applies everything so heavy that you really need to then kind of go in and tweak them.

Right. Yeah. All right. So Snapseed? And what do you like? What kind of processes Do you usually do on Snapseed?

I will usually go into there.

Well, it used to be called tune. I’m not sure if it’s still called that I think it is. And that’s kind of like the brightness, saturation contrast. Yeah. Highlights, you know, a lot of the same ones you would see in like the the native app, camera app. Yeah. But I like it, I usually start there. And then the other thing that I really like is not only can you crop it, but you can kind of rotate it a little bit. So if you didn’t have your, you know, obviously, if like the wall looks crooked, you’ve got a problem. Or if the table looks crooked, you got a problem. Yeah, so you can kind of refine those in there. And my absolute favorite portion is called their selective tool. And you can like pinpoint specific areas and just adjust the brightening, you know, like the exposure, contrast, saturation, you know, so you can just tweak little sections versus making, like your,

if my pictures got like a dark spot in it, where where there was a shadow or something. I can just lighten up that spot? Yes. Oh, that’s really cool.

Yeah. So in fact, one of the girls in my group, she had taken kind of like a product shot for something her son had made. And she’s like, what is this? I took all these photos, they all had the exact same settings, the exact same lighting, whatever she’s like, but the shadow looks pink. Why does the shadow look pink? So we use that selective tool. And I put it right on the shadow, adjusted the size, just to make sure it was only addressing the shadow right where we wanted it. And then we changed. I think it was okay, right? When I changed that maybe it was even saturation, I can’t remember now what it was. Yeah. And I make the pink hue of the shadow actually look like a normal shadow color. And it didn’t do anything else for the rest of the photo. Oh, and so weird. Cool. That’s super cool. Yeah, so that’s one of the things, you know, these certain apps are made to do certain things better than others, you know what I mean? So it’s like, where you got

to go in and like, because one of the things is my problem is that I’ll go in and try to do something when I’m trying to like post a photo. But really, the trick is to go in and really just mess around with stuff. And like, just figure out how it all works and what effect different things have on the pictures you take. Yep.

What’s another one you like? So snap seed,

right? And then

I have one that I love that’s called touch retouch. Okay, and it’s also on both. I can’t remember how much it costs. It’s within a couple dollars at, you know, at the most. And so if you’re that obviously the idea would be if there’s anything that’s distracting or kind of caught in the back of your image. You want to just remove it when you Before you take the photo, you know, that’s going to be the easiest thing. But if you have a situation where we’re wherever you set up to take a photo, there’s a garbage can in the background, there’s a wall outlet or something like that, that you obviously can’t move, things like that, or a, you know, extension cord or whatever it is, you can go in and just remove that specific thing. So you kind of like paint the area that you want to remove. And it kind of recalculates and figures out what the pixels surrounding it look like. And it vanishes.

That’s crazy. So that’s touchretouch. Right.

Okay, cool. And I see a lot of people use and I see it on Pinterest. And I don’t know if it there’s a pronunciation to it, or if it’s just


letters, but it’s that V. S.

co. Do you know what is?


I see that everywhere. Is that one or is that just one that

like? Pete a lot of people use so it’s out there. It’s obviously it’s definitely out there. A lot of people rave about it. I didn’t think it was all that special. It has a lot of filters. Um,

I went I tried. I didn’t care for it. Okay.

Yeah. Yeah. So that one’s not the greatest. Okay, cool. All right. So we get snaps, rocket. Yeah, I know. Like, there’s ways to customize it. Because I always see like these recipes for filters on Pinterest. And again, like, I go in, like two seconds before I want to post something. And then I’m like, ah, Hell, I don’t know what this is. And I Abort mission and just throw up whatever photo I’ve taken. But like my, and, you know, I, I’m entrepreneur, but I don’t have a lot of photos on my website, necessarily. Yeah, I’m trying to think I don’t really I mean, the ones that I use, I use, like purchased photos, like for behind my blog post titles and that kind of thing. But

I do try to create like an Instagram and my

Instagram, like, socks, it’s so bad, that none of the things match. Like, isn’t there a trick? Do you think? And I and I know this is maybe I think it’s still on topic, right? Because it’s about creating, like these images that all kind of go together with your phone. And

I feel like

some people have these really beautiful curated Instagram accounts. And I don’t know if it’s just because I some of my pictures are dark, and some of my pictures are light and some you know, it all looks kind of mumble jumbled together. But is the trick really in like the editing and using these apps?

I don’t think necessarily, that’s the case, because I think you can get a similar look, by just keeping some of the same colors in it. You know, if you always have where your brand colors, I’m not even sure. Yeah, they’re like orange and blue. So you could always include items that are orange and blue. Whether or not like having something light something dark, they’re gonna throw it off. But you if you like that, then I would say create a pattern. Oh, yeah, every every other image is light and dark than light and dark. And that way you can look over the entire scene. And it’s intentional.

Right, right. Yes. So that there’s an actual pattern to it, even though the actual photos may not look. Yeah, I know what you’re saying. So the overview, if you’re looking at the whole feed as of one as a whole,

yeah, right, right. Yeah, that makes sense. And then I’ve other See also seen people where they do like overlays. And so they always have the same overlay on it. But the image itself differs. what’s what’s an overlay? Something like, friend of mine has like her colors are green and purple. And so she has like these green and purple lines that always kind of come over the corners. Oh,

yeah. Yeah. That kind of thing.

Okay. Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. Cool. And how would somebody do something like that? That just a Photoshop function?

Oh, well. It’d be easier in Photoshop.

Yeah. Cuz you just make a tampon. Throw it on top.

Yeah. Yeah. The only other way you could do it is where you have like two photos. Like one, one lay over the other. And there are photo apps that do that. Yeah. As long as one one of them have to be a PNG file in your phone has to be able to kind of

Yeah, to deal with that. Yeah, yeah. So it’s transparent. Yeah.

Correct. Yeah, the PNGs can handle a transparent background with just whatever that image is on there. So what can people

can you give everybody your website and what can they find on your site?

So I have tons of resources. I have many blog posts up with tutorials, video tutorials and that kind of thing. And that’s www dot learn blog and photography.com. And there’s also a five day photo challenge if they could sign up For where it will give you like a different topic each day. It’s not like you have to take photos each day. And you’ll learn about little more about lighting that we had talked about, you’ll learn more about, like, once you call that a composition, where we talked about the rule of thirds, yeah, learn more about picking a good subject for your photo and backdrops, and flatlays and a few other things that are in there where you get some kind of basic but a little more in depth tutorial for each day on how to set up a, you know, a good photo.

Yeah, I like that. And I like that. I see people do those flat What are they called? Flat,

flat, lays flat lays,

right. And that’s like, where you’re up high. And you’re looking down on a, like products or whatever it is. That’s like flat on the table or whatever. Right? Right. Yeah, yeah. And those can look really good. But I would imagine there’s a real knack to that because the shadows

can be Yes, yeah. In fact, I also did a Gosh, I think it was at least 15 or 20 minute tutorial strictly on shooting a flatlay photo.

Okay, well, and they can do and they can find that on your website. Yep.

Okay, cool. Give me the website. Again. One more time learn blog. photography.com. Is that right? You got it.

Okay, cool. Awesome.

Well, this was so fun. Do you have anything else that you want to add before we wrap up that you want people to know or something they should do or an action they should take? They should not use their cameras. flashlight to take a photo? Oh, yeah, that’s the flash. Oh, yes. That can only use the flash.

Ah, that okay. That’s really good. Yeah,

cuz they don’t leave like a weird lighting on it. Right? Yep.

Yep. And also, I would say, don’t,

don’t let it hold you

back from doing something.

Whether you want to start a business or improve your Instagram or whatever it is. Because you don’t have a fancy camera. Like that’s not an excuse anymore. You can do anything, right. You can do the photos, you can do video, you can do everything with the thing you already have in your pocket. So don’t slow down. Don’t let it hold you back. Go to Amy’s website, really figure out how to make this work for you. And get rid of that excuse of why you’re not.

Right. Absolutely. Yep. Yeah.

Awesome. Well, thanks so much for being on Amy. This was really fun. Yes, it wasn’t. Thank you for having me.

Thanks for spending some time with me today. Remember, you can find me inside my facebook group at SS lB community.com. That stands for start small, live big community.com. And as always, here’s a little message from my husband.

That’s it.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


Meet Betsy!

I'm Betsy Pake!

*Ocean obsessed

*Probably hanging out with my dogs


*Deep thinker

Hey There!

About Betsy

Hi I’m Betsy and I’m a subconscious change expert.
By day you can find me digging deep into the unconscious beliefs and identity of my clients so they can move past self-sabotage and lack of confidence and gain traction in their career and life.