It's always with you: how to take better photos with your cell phone.
We’re all capable of making beautiful photographs. Because of cell phones, most of us have a camera on hand most of the time. Good thing, because I am a firm believer in simplicity, and that you can take an amazing photo with whatever camera is available to you. In fact, even as a professional photographer, the majority of the pictures that I take, print and frame come from my cell phone. It’s simply always available when I need to take a photo. The key is learning as much as you can about how to use your phone camera, a bit about how light works, and a few easy tips that will make the pictures you take look awesome.
In chronological order, here are some simple tips to step it up a couple of notches (maybe even 100 notches!):
01- START WITH A CLEAN LENS
Easy! Give it a quick wipe before you take a picture. Smudges show up making murky, foggy photos.
02- TURN OFF YOUR FLASH
The flash will light up whatever is closest to it, and nothing else. It can be helpful if you are taking people pictures in a dark environment, but generally it will muck up your pictures.
03- TURN ON YOUR GRID & COMPOSE YOUR SHOT
Your phone’s camera settings will allow you the option to use a grid. Turning this feature ON will help you to compose your shot.
Your camera grid can help you decide where to place the subject of your photo. You’ll notice that the grid is broken up into 9 equal squares (or thirds). The rule of thirds is a composition guideline that you can use to make your photos more naturally appealing to the human eye. Simply use the by gridlines and their intersections to line up your shot.
Aligning the horizon, placing 1/3 of it above or below.
Placing your subject to be off centred on one of the intersecting grids
Line up your shot with leading lines to draw attention to a focal point
That said, the world is your oyster. You can also break the rules now that you know them (I like to centre my subject when it makes sense).
04- AVOID ZOOMING IN
It may be tempting to use the zoom function on your camera, but, this will pixelate your photos. Yuck. If you can get closer to your subject, walk up closer.
05- LIGHTING BASICS
When your light source is behind you (window, the sun) the light will fall onto your subject. When the light is behind your subject, it can create a silhouette (ie. sunset). Overhead light can create unflattering shadows (for example, mid day sun or overhead indoor lighting).
A good tip is to stick to evenly lit spaces, which will create even light that is easy to expose. An outdoor example is shade, indoor would be turning off the lights and using window light if its available. Sometimes none of these options are available, but if they are, all the better.
Cloudy day? Do not fret my pet – clouds create the most beautiful and even light because they act as a soft filter.
06- DECIDE ON WHAT YOU WANT TO FOCUS ON, SET IT, AND FORGET IT
You can easily draw attention to your subject by locking the focus on your camera. The example in the video is on an iPhone, but for most camera phones all you need to do is press and hold the yellow square to lock to focus. From there you can use the slider to adjust the brightness (exposure).
There are two main aspecting when it comes to editing your photos:
Composition. Is. So. Important.
You will get the best results when you focus on your composition. If you didn’t get it right when you took the picture, editing can help. That said, it’s best not to rely on editing to fix photos….a crappy picture will still look like crap after you edit it, just fancier (i know this through years of trying to fix failed photos!).
Cell phone come equipped with tools to crop and straighten. PLEASE, mind the horizon. Straighten it, it will make a huge difference! If the horizon is straight, your picture will look great. If it’s not, that will stand out. This can be done either in your phone or even in instagram.
Editing tools can spice up your pictures. You can find them in your camera app, in external apps or on insta. Here are a few that I like to use.
Thanks for following along! Be sure to shoot me a message with any comments or questions. I am always happy to help!