Top Ten Tips for Phone Photography
Whatever did we do before mobile phones? It seems unthinkable now that not so very long ago we were not able to be in constant touch with friends and family by phone or text, check emails and social media constantly, and organise pretty much any aspect of our lives with an app!
In fact, sometimes we can wish that technology was not quite as widespread as it has become. How frustrating is it when you’re trying to get to a supermarket shelf but someone is there having an intense phone conversation comparing the relative merits of different brands …. or when you look round a bar or restaurant and everyone is thumbing their phones instead of talking to each other …. or when you are trying to enjoy that long-awaited gig or event but all around you people are pointing their phones to the sky!
These days it seems that many people would rather capture an event in a photograph than enjoy the moment itself. But is it possible to do both? Can you get better at mobile phone photography and then be able to spend more time enjoying the present than storing memories for the future? Read on for our Top Ten Tips for successful phone photography.
- Keep it clean!
No we’re not talking about the content of the photos but your phone itself! When you think about it, our phones end up in all kinds of places – dusty bags and pockets, messy office desks, public transport, pubs and clubs. So it’s a good idea to give your phone a good clean – especially your camera lens – so that it starts off with the best possible chance of taking good clear photos.
- Hold steady
Sounds obvious but you are never going to get a good shot if either your hand is shaking or you are moving around too much. It is particularly important to keep steady when you are trying to take photos in low light, as any movement of the camera will result in a blurred image.
The best thing to do is either to hold the phone with both hands or find a solid surface to rest it on. You can even get tripods for mobile phones these days, though these may not always be practical in a crowded environment.
Every phone is different but they all have a way of focussing on the subject, for example tapping the screen where you want the main subject of the photo to be. Also check out whether your phone has the ability to blur the background as this will have the effect of bringing the main subject more sharply into focus. It is worth taking the time to get one or two good shots at an event using these methods rather than clicking wildly and ending up with a lot of blurred wasted shots.
- The rule of thirds
When thinking about focus it is helpful to remember the “rule of thirds”. This related to the concept of mentally dividing up your image using two horizontal lines and two vertical lines – a little like a noughts and crosses grid. See example below. The idea is to position the important elements either along the lines, or at the points where they meet, and your main subject in line with one of them. This can help to create balance in your photograph and give you a more interesting shot. Some phones have a screen grid that you can turn on to help you when you are composing a shot.
- Don’t zoom!
If you’ve ever used zoom on a mobile device you will notice that the result tends to be a bit blurry (no, it’s not just you!). This is because the digital zoom facility on most mobile phones will crop the image as you zoom in, resulting in an unfortunate loss in image quality. So it’s not possible to get a good quality far away shot on a mobile phone: your only alternative is to get closer to the subject you are trying to photograph.
Most mobile phones have various different photography modes including panorama. This is an ideal choice for a landscape or other outdoor shot that just won’t fit into a normal frame. Using panorama mode you can pan the camera slowly across the scene to capture it all, as in the example below. Practice makes perfect: find the panorama mode on your phone and get used to it so that when you need to use it in real time you are confident about what to do.
- Avoid cluttered backgrounds
When taking photographs always look carefully not just at your subject but also the background. A background that is either cluttered or contains a major distraction can ruin your photograph. Another thing that you may not notice when taking a photograph is clashing colours. If they really spoil the photograph then one solution is to put that photograph into black and white to overcome the problem.
- Change your perspective
Whilst considering backgrounds it is also a good idea to try your photography from a number of different perspectives. Rather than just standing and taking whatever is in front of you, why not try either getting down low and shooting from ground level or climbing up higher (if safe to do so!) and getting more of an aerial shot? The advantage of mobile phones is that they are so small and light you can use them in various locations where a bigger camera wouldn’t work.
- The golden shot!
If there is something that you really want to capture, don’t leave it to chance. Unless you are very lucky you are unlikely to get your perfect shot first time, so take as many shots as you can from different perspectives, angles and distances. Check as you go to see which shots are turning out the best, then you can adapt accordingly and try and improve further on the shots you like so far. One of the main advantages of digital photography is the ability to delete all the photos that didn’t work, so that you just end up with the good shots you want to keep.
- Don’t over process
There are so many photography processing features on phones these days that it is tempting to play – and also tempting to think that they can turn a bad photograph into a good one! But over-processed photos can just end up looking ridiculous: the processing can actually ruin what was good about the shot in the first place. Be particularly aware of introducing grainy and over-saturated colours. By all means add a bit of editing to your photos but only apply effects that will enhance the best qualities of the original photo.
Good luck with your mobile photography! If you have a special event coming up for which you would like someone else to do all the hard work taking photos then do get in touch with us here at Venture Studios. We have a range of photoshoot experiences available that can be purchased either through our website or by getting in touch with us direct.