Instagram have just released a major new update, with no less than 10 new tools and a whole host of improvements. You can now adjust things like brightness and contrast, sharpen your pictures and make them, on the whole, that little bit lovelier.

That is…if you actually know what you're doing in the first place.

Whether you're using your phone or a flashy beat of a camera, learn how to take photos that people will actually want to see.

Danny North

Our expert Danny North has been a professional photographer for six years, shooting everyone from Muse to Rudimental and Foo Fighters to Oasis, with loads in-between. He’s also a total feckin’ dude.


01 Turn off your flash

That's my number-one rule for camera phones - it isn’t that powerful, it’s not a great colour, and it doesn’t really work beyond two feet, even when it’s night-time.

I’m a very firm believer in going with the flow of nature: if it’s dark and moody and twilighty, then use that. If it’s too dark, bring your flash out, but if you’ve got light, use it. Natural light will always look superior to flash. Always.


02 Think about lighting

Thinking about light can change a photograph from being terrible to being amazing.

If you’re taking a picture of your mate and the sun’s behind his head, your camera phone will almost certainly expose for the background, leaving your friend in shadow. Most people don’t think about how easy it is just to move your feet, or the person’s feet that you’re taking a picture of.


03 Do something different

Look for a new perspective, different to what everybody else is doing.

So, if you want to take a picture of something like the Eiffel Tower, get in close and pick out details. Or go directly underneath the tower, lie on the ground and look up. Get your knees dirty, get down low, climb stuff. Just get stuck in.


04 Don't zoom

Zooming on a camera phone is always a bad idea, because it’s a digital zoom – it doesn’t actually zoom, it just crops. You’re better off taking a photograph and cropping it using an app.

Want to take a picture of a parrot in a tree? Who’s going to look at that when you get home? But if you got up in the tree, got in close and it was pecking at the camera, then you’ve got an award-winning wildlife photograph right there.


05 He who dares, wins

It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is permission. If you’re at a festival and you see an opportunity to sneak backstage and get a photograph with some band, do it.

Nothing that bad will happen – a slap on the wrist, that’s it. If you ask them in the first place, you’re never going to get in.


06 The Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds sounds complicated, but it’s very basic and very important.

Divide your screen into three sections – horizontally or vertically – and use those thirds to frame the picture.

Try placing your subject on one side, then you have two thirds left on the other side. It makes things feel a bit more cinematic, and if you’re up some mountains or on the beach, you get to see the background.

It’s the difference between something looking considered and just a snap.

07 Mega-what?

Megapixels mean nothing. What you need to be looking at if you’re buying a camera is how good it is in low light because, ultimately, if it performs well, it means it must have a really good sensor.

Unfortunately, people normally fall into the more-megapixels-equals-better-camera mentality, which is completely and utterly untrue. At eight megapixels, you can comfortably print up to A3 in size.

08 Go manual

I can’t see the point in owning a really nice camera and putting it on auto.

I understand that it’s hard for people to go from fully auto to manual, because it’s a lot to think about, but if you just want to use auto mode, use a point-and-shoot snapper – you can get a really decent one for a couple of hundred quid.

If you’ve got a DSLR, grow a pair of balls and learn how to use it.


FHM's 5 Quality Cameras

As told by Dan Masoliver.