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Tech tips

5 inexpensive products to make your photos and videos look just right

Suppose you’ve already spent big bucks on the latest iPhone or Android smartphone, and you’re ready to take mind-blowing photos for your friends and family. You fire up your camera, get in place and snap a photo — but lo and behold, it’s grainy and dark. What gives?

As powerful as your phone’s built-in camera is, it’s not a perfect system. Color balance, lighting and other factors can throw off your photo and turn what should be a professional shot into an amateurish mess. Tap or click here to see how you can put a professional touch on your photos.

But fear not, there are plenty of products and techniques you can use to bring your photos to life like never before. Here are some of our favorite tricks to getting the perfect shot.

1. Start using lenses designed for your smartphone

You don’t need to rely on your phone’s stock camera for photos and videos. There is a range of smartphone lenses that clip to your device and enhance your view without lowering your photo quality — or breaking the bank, for that matter.

This universal smartphone lens from CoPedvic uses specially coated glass to bring you a wider range of color in your shots, as well as different styles like a fish-eye lens, wide-angle lens, and macro lens for close-up photos. It even comes with a metal tripod so you can balance your shot without an unsteady grip.

2. Take video like a pro

Your smartphone is capable of more than you know, and thanks to its beefy computing power, all it takes is a few high-end accessories to turn it into a handheld movie studio.

This smartphone video and vlogging kit from Movo includes everything you need to shoot professionally, including a smartphone grip, boom microphone with fuzzy cover, LED lights and a Bluetooth remote. With this all-in-one kit, your home movies won’t look so homemade anymore.

And for iPhone 11 and 11 Pro users, here’s a quick tip. To keep recording videos from the photo app, press the shutter button and slide it to the right. Then, release it. You’ll keep recording without having to hold the button.

While you’re in this mode, you’ll also see a smaller shutter button that appears to the right. Tap it to take a still photo of what you’re recording, and tap the record button again to stop recording. Now you’ll have the perfect still photos to preview your masterpiece.

3. Use the ‘food photo staples’

Everyone loves to photograph delicious-looking meals, and with the right props, it’s easy to make your shots look phenomenal.

For starters, a white dinner plate is an easy way to get whatever you’re serving to pop for the camera. With a light background, the textures and details of your food will contrast brilliantly. This set of dinner plates from 10 Strawberry Street feature a clean, non-distracting design.

When you’re prepping food, the containers you use also make all the difference. This tan soup bowl from Jucox will make whatever you serve up stand out.

A wooden cutting board makes for a beautiful background. This bamboo cutting board from Royal Craft Wood can take years of sharp-edged abuse and has antimicrobial properties to keep your food clean. You’re not just making a meal for the camera, right?

And when it’s finally time to serve and present your dish, nothing says “gourmet” like a classic silver platter. This stainless steel oval platter from Winco won’t tarnish from washing and is much more affordable than competitors with precious metallic plating.

4. It’s all about the grip

We can’t ignore the importance of a sturdy grip. Without it, your video and photos are at the whims of your arm muscles, and even the best steadycam apps can’t get rid of all the shaking you’ll experience while filming.

Instead, you can rely on this trusty SquidGrip mount from Xenvo, which features legs that can bend and flex in whatever direction you like. You can use the SquidGrip to mount your phone to anything it can wrap its “tentacles around” and the included ball joint lets you angle your camera however you please.

5. Let there be light!

One of the main reasons people upgrade their smartphone camera is to take better photos of the things they’re selling online. Unfortunately, not everyone knows the biggest secret to get those perfect eBay shots: A lightbox.

These enclosed lighting fixtures provide natural-looking light from multiple angles, which can bring out even the tiniest details in any product you plan to sell online. This portable lightbox from Amazon Basics features a compact, folding design, and can stow away flat in your car or bag.

Bonus: Turn your photos into cash and personal treasures

Your photos don’t just have to sit in an album and collect dust, you know. There are several outlets online that let you host and sell your best photos. We recommend SmugMug, which gives you unlimited storage and organization tools for a fraction of what its competitors charge.

Get your free SmugMug 14-day trial today, and save 15% on a new account.

And for those of you with family members graduating, Target Photo makes it easy to turn your best shots into beloved keepsakes for all of your loved ones. A photo gift makes a nice “I was thinking of you” for the friends and family you can’t visit right now, too.

Submit your photos to Target over the web, and turn them into prints, mugs and even smartphone cases. It’s a great way to bring your photos into the real world — literally.

Turn your photos into cherished memories with Target Photo.

By clicking our links, you’re supporting our research, as we may earn a very small commission. Recommendations are not part of any business incentives.

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