Smart Phone Photography Tips
In these modern times, with phone technology improving all the time, you don't have to be a pro to get some very good results with just your phone. Here are my top tips on getting the most from your camera phone:
Clean your lens
Your phone is usually always with you, in your pocket or your bag. All the while, the camera lens is collecting dust and smears. Make sure you clean your lens from time to time with a lens cloth to stop you from getting milky images. You want your images to be as clear as possible.
One of the easiest ways improve your mobile photos is to turn on the camera's gridlines. This will superimpose a grid on the screen of your camera that is based on the Rule of Thirds. Try placing your points of interest on one of the thirds to enhance your composition and give balance to your image. Don't be afraid of negative space which refers to empty space, for example, sky, open water, a wall, an expanse of grass etc.
On an Iphone - Go to Settings, Camera, then switch on Grid
On a Samsung - in Camera, go to Settings, switch on Grid Lines
A Different Angle Experiment with taking photos from unusual angles. Think outside the box. Get low and shoot up, go high and shoot down, play around with angles to make your images more memorable. If you are shooting people or animals though, eye level is the best place to shoot so if you would like a portrait of your dog, get down to their level.
Leading lines Good photos often have a 'line' that draws the viewer's eye towards the focal point of the image. Examples of leading lines are staircases, roads, branches etc
Reflections and Shadows There are lots of ways to experiment with reflections - water, sunglasses, metallic surfaces. On a bright sunny day, look for interesting shadows and silhouettes.
Patterns and Texture Repetitive patterns can make great images. Patterns can be found in geometric shapes, architecture, tiled floors. Look out for patterns all around you. Don't overlook the small stuff either - Detailed shots of texture such as rust, peeling paint, tree bark can also make great images.
Symmetry and Balance An image that contains symmetry can make a very successful image. It is also a simple way to compose an image- make sure your image feels balanced and not too heavy on one side.
Critical to all photography - good light! The best camera phone images are taken with natural light and most camera phones cope very well with most lighting situations without having to add in artificial light. You can always tweak your image a little when you edit it. Tapping where you want to focus will usually correct the exposure in camera.
If you are shooting outdoors, then try and shoot either first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon. Avoid the midday sun if you possibly can as it is too harsh and creates shadows you just don't need. Cloudy days are the best for outdoor portrait photography so you don't have your subject either squinting into the sun or silhouetted. The best light in the entire day can be found at Golden Hour, the hour before sunset when the light is soft and golden.
Go easy with the flash- it can make your images look very artificial indeed, especially at night. In a well lit scene, a flash can sometimes lift the shadows a little but be careful with any shadows it creates behind your subject.
Most phones these days have built in editing software. If you don't want to use these, there are plenty of apps around that will help such as Snapseed or Photoshop Fix, all of which are downloadable to your phone. If you aren't a pro at editing, minor adjustments can really improve an image. Perhaps a slightly different crop - get rid of anything distracting at the sides of the image and straighten the whole thing if it is wonky. Lifting the shadows slightly or increasing exposure can also help. Take a look at your white balance too- make sure your images aren't too yellow (if you are shooting with artificial light indoors) or too blue. Go easy with filters - any filter used should enhance your image and not dominate it. Most filters are adjustable so I'd definitely stay within the 10-50% range if you choose to use them.
Concentrating on photography can really help you focus on the world around you, the beauty in the everyday that usually you wouldn't notice. You'll start to see things differently, I promise, if you just look. It's the perfect way to practice mindfulness!
Here are a few challenges you can try yourself either at home or whilst you are out and about:
Photograph something beginning with each letter of the alphabet.
Photograph only things of a certain colour eg red.
Photograph words you find and see if you can make a sentence. Or photograph letters and try and spell out your name.
See how many interesting reflections or shadows you can find.
Photograph the small stuff - insects, flowers, interesting patterns in sand etc.
How many interesting textures can you find? Think about bark, peeling paint, rust etc
Look at ways to improve your images by framing your subject and drawing your viewers eyes to your focal point - think about leading lines eg branches of trees etc
Experiment with all the ways you can take a selfie and no, I don't mean with a selfie stick! Think about reflections, silhouettes, shadows on the floor etc
You may also be interested in my Better Blog Photos article which also covers posing and home portrait photography.
If you have any questions, just get in touch