As phone cameras get better and better, we need to make sure our photography techniques do too. Taking photos on a phone can be very different to using a regular camera. If you want to take the best possible images then you need to do more than just click a button. Here is a list of our tips and tricks for improving your phone photography:
Where to start?
So, you want to take a nice photo to spruce up your social media, but what should you be photographing? Obviously, we can't tell you exactly what to take pictures of, but we can give you some advice on what to look out for.
- Make sure you have an interesting subject. Whether this is a person, object or landscape; you want your image to stand out from the crowd.
- Make sure it's well lit. You don't want dark or grainy photos (unless that's the look you want to achieve!). Natural light is the best; however, indoor lights still work well. Keep your eye on the weather for a lovely sunny day to go out and get your photos.
- Look at photos you like for inspiration. Sites like Instagram and Pinterest are filled with photos you can use as inspiration - that way you can mirror the style that you like.
Now, let’s look at actually taking the photo. We recommend you take your photos in landscape mode, as this mirrors the look of traditional cameras. However, portrait photos do have their place, so make a judgement based on what you're taking a picture of. Avoid shooting images square, as it's very easy to crop photos after you've taken them. Shooting them square limits your options in post-production, so it's always better for the original image to be as flexible as possible just in case you change your mind.
Most phone cameras will auto-focus, however, manually focusing will give you more control over how the photo looks. A lot of phones allow you to tap on the screen to change the point of focus, this also may adjust the lighting. For example, if I was taking a photo of a person my phone might automatically focus on the background rather than them. If I tap their face on the screen the phone will readjust and focus on their face. This is also a useful feature as doing this adjusts the light, so if your subject is pale and blending in with the background, if you tap their face the lighting should readjust so you can see them better.
If you want to really up your game, turn on the camera grid in your settings. This tool will help you utilise the "Rule of Thirds". The grid splits your image into 9 sections, and by lining up your subject with one of the intersections or lines of the grid you will create a more interesting and dynamic image. This won't work with every photograph, but it might be just the technique to take your photo to the next level.
Using the flash can be very useful if you're taking photos in the dark, however, it's best to avoid using it as much as you can, especially if you're photographing people. As the flash on most phones is right next to the camera, the light is hitting people straight on, this can be quite unflattering. It also means you run the risk of having red eyes in photos, which is always best to avoid.
Most phones give you the option to add a filter straight onto the camera function, however, it's always best to apply filters in post-production. This is for the same reason that we don't want to take square photos, you want your image to be as flexible as possible. Imagine that you take a black and white photo, but later realise you wish it was in colour. If you take the photo in colour you can change it to black and white afterwards.
There are hundreds of photo editing apps out there, and most of them function in very similar ways. Two popular examples are VSCO and Adobe Lightroom. VSCO not only allows you to edit images, but also post them in their community section. Adobe Lightroom can be connected to an existing Adobe account so you can sync your photo editing up from your phone to your computer. Both of them offer free and paid versions, though the free versions are still extensive on their own.
The main features of both of them is that they have 'pre-sets' and more detailed editing. 'Pre-sets' offer different filters that will automatically apply their settings to your images, this is a very useful tool for beginners as you don't have to touch any settings that you don't understand. The more detailed settings are better suited to people who know a bit more about editing, and both apps allow you to adjust things like contrast, exposure, white balance and colour tones.