Only use flash as a last resort.
If you have to use flash—say it’s a special occasion with family, and you’re outdoors at night—Larrow advises being intentional about the distance between the subject and the camera. He noted that the flash on iPhones can cover a distance of 20 feet, but it’s not going to be very effective from that far away. And if you’re too close, the flash can blow out your subjects, particularly people with lighter skin tones. “Somewhere in the 3- to 5-foot range is where you want to be, and if you have a darker skin tone, getting a little bit closer might help,” he said.
If there’s one light source, like a lamp of a streetlight, “shooting so that the photographer’s back is to the light source is always helpful,” he explained, “because then, that light is going past the photographer onto the subject.”
If, for some reason, you’re in a place that’s pitch-black and you really want to take a group photo, you can have everyone turn on the flashlights on their phones to add additional light to the scene, Larrow said. The idea is to have as much light as possible, and for it to be as even as possible. “But I generally avoid flash unless absolutely necessary,” he added. “It’s not a big light and it’s generally everyone’s excuse to take terrible photos.”
“If you’re ever asking yourself, ‘Did I edit this too much?’ the answer is almost always yes.”
While it’s easy to overdo it, Larrow says it’s fine to use editing tools sparingly. He advises adjusting the white point and the black point to make the whitest white and the blackest black distinct in your image. Then, play with the highlights and shadows to make the brightest parts of an image stand out.
“If you’re going to use ‘clarity,’ don’t use ‘sharpen,’” he noted. What’s the difference between the two settings? Sharpen makes every single pixel in the image sharper, while clarity increases the contrast of the midtones, so it’s less harsh—but you still shouldn’t use it too liberally. If you feel the need to use sharpen, it probably means that your photo is out of focus, “and no amount of sharpen is going to fix that,” Larrow said, “so either embrace that it’s out of focus, or try taking the photo again.”