All posts by Sierra Grayson

About Sierra Grayson

I am a freelance photographer based out of Delaware. I specialize in all kinds of photography - you name it, I can capture it (to a socially-acceptable point, of course).

Best Instagram-Worthy Photo Editing Apps

I’ve seen it happen all the time. Well, I haven’t actually seen the process happening before my eyes, but I have witnessed the backlash. I’m talking about the inevitable outcome of using poor editing on an Instagram photo. Photos with amazing potential get squashed under the weight of others that were more creatively or professionally edited. Well, you don’t have to be a “professional” in order to ensure this never happens to your Instagram feed. You just have to do a little research on the appeal of edited photos and then use the right technology to get the job done. To help you out with that, I’m sharing my list of the best apps to use to get amazing Instagram-worthy edited photos.

Camera+
You may have seen this one popping up in the Instagram world, and that’s because it is so great for taking and editing photos. The grid setup on the camera allows for even a beginner to learn perfect posing and framing rules. The camera also has the ability to use wide angle, telephoto, and duo-camera functionality. Once you get into the Lightbox editor on the app, you can use “The Lab” to enhance your photo to its fullest edited potential like I did with the photo on the left when I turned it into the photo all the way to the right.

Lightroom
I would be letting down everyone if I didn’t talk about Lightroom in this post. This is a photo editing app for your phone based on the ever popular software for your computer that you can download through Adobe. A cousin to Photoshop, Lightroom allows the user to flawlessly edit their photos with very minimal knowledge about the “fancy stuff.” There’s even a really helpful Presets function that makes theming your feed as easy as possible. If you’ve ever found yourself staring at a Photoshop screen like “What the hell do I do with this?” then you need to get Lightroom. It is more user friendly, and there are easy to follow how-to videos for Lightroom all across the Web.

Canva
Okay, so, Canva is mostly used for editing graphics. But it has some pretty useful photo editing tools too! And you might need to put a graphic on your Instagram. Let’s say you just started a meeting group (like a book club or something). Canva can help you take a photo of your first meeting and turn it into a beautiful promotion piece with pretty writing and doodles on it to make you stand out!

There are plenty of photo editing apps in all of the app stores. These three are the ones that work for me, but you might be able to find one that you feel functions even better for you. The most important thing to remember is that your style is your style. Apps and other tools are just there to help you bring it out.

Do you have any other apps you use to edit your Instagram photos? Let me know in the comments below!

Top 3 Couples Photography Tips

Did someone say couples photography? Oh my gosh, yes! How cute is it to have beautifully rendered photos of you and bae on your walls or on the nightstand next to your bed or on your kitchen table… Wait, on your kitchen table? You know what, do it – I don’t judge! Getting to take photographs of couples who are clearly in love gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, like I’m doing something good with my talents on Earth.

Do you want to take your photographs with bae to the next level? Well, find a photographer who super loves photographing couples (*ahem ahem*) and use my top 3 couples photography tips to get some of the cutest photos ever!

  • Make sure you and your loved one are clear on the types of photos you want. Do you like more serious pictures? Do you want to experiment with funny candids? What about a mixture of both? Talk about it beforehand!
  • Pick a location based on your personality inclinations. This relates more to how you handle being in public. If you’re choosing to photograph on-location somewhere and not in a studio, make sure it’s a place where you’re comfortable. For example, if you get skittish or embarrassed easily around other people, you might want to think twice before getting photographed at the mall during Christmas time, you know?
  • Have pose ideas in mind before you go to the photo session. Now, your photographer may be able to help with this (and likely will be able to help with this). But it makes the session run much more smoothly if you and bae already have a few pose ideas picked out and saved somewhere. Pinterest is a great reference for this; check out this board I created just for pose ideas!

Those are my 3 biggest tips for a more effective and efficient couples photography session. Speaking of couples photography, did you know that for the entire month of February 2020 ALL couple’s photography sessions will be 50% off?! You didn’t know? Well, you better be thankful I told ya! Click here to learn more about this awesome discount.

4 Things to Consider When Shopping for a Photographer

Shopping for a photographer can be a pretty overwhelming process. There are a lot of us in the market (believe me, we know; we’ve heard it from our parents and that one overbearing uncle way too many times). But it doesn’t have to feel like a nightmare! Here are 4 things to consider when looking for a photographer for any kind of photos:

  • Do they have a portfolio that you can easily view? Some photographers keep their portfolios locked away unless you expressly ask to view their previous work. I keep my portfolio photos viewable on my website so that my clients can use them in making a decision about my services.
  • How does their style of photography compare to your wants and needs or the vision you have for your photos? Portfolios can help you identify the style of photos that a particular photographer usually works with. Note: even though a photographer may appear to work in a specific style, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t work in others.
  • What are their prices like? This is a biggie. Price shouldn’t be the only deciding factor in looking for photographers, but it does make a lot of difference in who you’re even able to choose based on your budget. Just take it into consideration, and make sure to be crystal clear on what your photographer’s prices are before you sign anything.
  • Are they local to your location or would they be willing to travel to your location? Now for the most part, if you’re doing a portrait or other type of photo session that won’t require a lot of travel, this point becomes slightly less relevant. But what if there is a really great photographer in your home town who you want to use for your wedding in Tahiti? Something you have to look out for.

When my husband and I were shopping for wedding photographers, we didn’t have a clue. What’s the best price in our area? Would they be okay with doing first-look shots? What if we don’t have food for them at the wedding? But we buckled down, came up with this list (if a little abridged), and started our research. If you can look through photographers in a way that allows you to compare them based on your own needs and wants, you’ll be a-okay.

road trip/vacation photos!

So this past week, I went on a road trip to the beaches of Delaware to celebrate Independence Day, and it was so much fun! I want to share those photos with all of you because it was such a spiritual experience as a photographer to take a step away from “business shoots” and just take photos of the people I love and some places where I’m truly inspired. Let me know what you think in the comments!

My Updated (And Now Official..) 2019 Planning Routine

Hello again my friends! I wanted to post this updated planning routine today as we are officially at the half-way point in the year – only 6 more months until Christmas which basically means the year is half over!

I’ve perfected my planning system – the system I will officially be using for at least the rest of this year. Keep reading to learn more about what exactly I do to stay on track and keep on top of my crazy busy life!

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So I have a few different methods or areas of planning, and you’ll recognize the logic here if you read my post about my favorite smartphone apps (a good quick read if you’ve got a couple minutes). My planning supplies are: bullet journal, smartphone, desktop computer. Please note that these methods are generally only used for things that I’m involved in by myself – household planning that would require my husband to be included is done with a different system entirely! (Because..I’m crazy)

Desktop Computer

I just recently purchased a desktop computer (even though I do have a laptop), and I can honestly say that I do not regret my decision at all. It’s so nice to have a larger monitor to work with when designing my “productivity wallpapers.” The wallpaper pictured below is one that I started using about a month ago in conjunction with the sticky notes software on my computer.

I basically use this as a catch-all area where I can quickly jot down any events/to-dos/reminders that I think of while I’m browsing the Internet, editing photos, or writing. It’s a way for me to visually see everything at a glance without having to scroll through a smartphone or pull out any paper/pens. You’ll notice that the wallpaper has different sections (and a color code) that allow me to organize the sticky notes at least a little bit.

Smartphone

This is where the crux of my on-the-go planning happens. I don’t usually cart around my bullet journal – which you’ll read about next – and I definitely can’t take my digital sticky notes with me wherever I go. So my phone is where some other magic happens!

I use Google Apps for all of my Gray Graphics communications and content implementation, so it only makes sense that I use it while I’m planning for some stuff as well. This helps keep my iCal app on my phone free of business events or other tasks that I don’t need to do right away for my personal life. Plus, I can access the GA suite from any Operating System (which is great ’cause my desktop uses Windows while my laptop/phone runs on Apple’s iOS). Again, I really only use these apps while I’m out and about so that I have another way to do the “sticky-notes-on-my-desktop” thing without having my actual desktop!

My Bullet Journal

I love, love, LOVE the bullet journal method of planning. I can literally customize any spread I use for inspiration so that it fits my exact needs. There’s no hassle involved with trying to rework an already-printed planner; I just have to draw in my own pages! (Honestly, the drawing is pretty therapeutic though, so I don’t mind it.)

This is usually the last place I visit on a Monday morning once I’m ready to plan out my week with a more solidified method. I use my “bujo” – as they’re usually called – to plan out my months and weeks and to brainstorm/plan my blog content from the sticky notes and GA suite stuff I have up until this point. And every morning after that, I open up my bujo and add any other things I’ve added to the two methods above while I didn’t have my bujo.. It’s a lot, I know.

Here are a couple of photos that give a glimpse into my usual weekly spread and blog planning spread.

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Basically, I’m an organizational wizard! (Or an organizational freak, depending on who you ask…) Anyway you guys, that wraps up today’s dose of inspiration and content. Do you have any tips/tricks/crazy-weird-things that you do to plan your life? Share them in the comments below!

Until next time!

My 5 Most-Used Apps

Hey everyone! Today I want to talk about the most-used apps on my phone. As a photographer, digital media manager, and writer, I have a LOT going on – especially on my phone! My 5 most-used apps help me focus on individual tasks and be as productive as I possibly can. Keep reading to find out what they are and how I use them!

  1. Alexa App (free; Dot is ~$40 on Amazon) – I have an Alexa Dot and use it mostly for home organization; my husband and I can both add to our shopping list or to-do list and can set different reminders based on which of us is talking to Alexa at any given time. It does so much more than that, but that’s how we use it most frequently!
  2. Cozi (free) – This is another one of those that my husband and I both have which helps to keep our home organized and running smoothly. We use the Cozi app to sync up calendar items (and set who is attending each item) and to plan out our weekly meals and who is cooking. The app also has pre-loaded recipes that we’ll refer to when we run out of dinner inspiration!
  3. Productive–Habit Tracker (free) – I can’t say enough about this app; it has honestly changed my habit game. You can set multiple different habits and assign a “completion schedule” to each individual habit. Every morning, I wake up and check this thing and just start checking things off the list. The app also has a “stats” section where you can keep track of which habits you fail to complete the most often or how many perfect days you’ve had. So great!
  4. Forest (free) – Okay, I think you guys have seen me talk about this on my blog before, but I LOVE the Forest app so I’ll talk about it more. It works to get you off of your phone while you’re trying to complete a task (or series of tasks) while also giving you a chance to make a real-world difference. You set a timer in the app for however long you’d like to work without checking your phone; I usually set my timer for 25 minutes then give myself a 5-min phone break before starting to work again. While your timer is going, if you don’t check your phone, the Forest app starts to plant a tree in your “Forest” in the app. Once your timer is up, the tree is fully grown (the longer the timer, the bigger the tree). If you check your phone or exit the app while the timer is going, your tree dies. The more larger trees you have, the more in-app coins you can earn. For every 2500 coins you collect, the Forest app developers will plant a real tree somewhere in the world!
  5. LightRoom (free) – I couldn’t resist putting a photography app in this mix as well. The LightRoom iOS app is completely free (whereas the actual software for a PC or laptop will cost you a premium), and there are so many cool functions. I am currently playing around with LightRoom “presets” that allow you to apply the same editing macros to any photograph. This has helped me so much with my Instagram branding. The app also keeps any of your edited photos in its own storage silo in the Cloud so that you don’t have to worry about losing anything. So nice!

Well folks, that’s it – my 5 most-used apps. Do you have any apps you use on the daily that you think your fellow readers would enjoy learning about? Drop them in the comments below!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post (a day late – whoops!). If you did, be sure to hit that “Like” button or subscribe to the blog – I would really appreciate it. Until next time!