In 1997, the first point, shoot and share camera was inserted into a cellphone. The concept was created by a man named Philippe Kahn who wanted to share a photo of his newborn daughter with friends and family.
Today, the camera on your smartphone is one of the most prominent and valued features. Anyone can capture a breathtaking sunset, take a selfie with a pet, or snap a mouthwatering food shot of sugar-dusted donuts or colorfully textured sushi (later to be uploaded to social media, of course).
And while there are still big camera enthusiasts who invest in quality equipment, the vast majority celebrate convenience with mobile photography. Although smartphones make it easy to point and click, there are a wide range of tips and tricks to help squeeze the best quality photos out of our smartphones.
You don’t need an expensive camera, editing software, or all the pricey extras to take great photos – you just need to know the tricks of the trade.
Keys To Lighting
The same rules of photography apply to phoneography. The right light, angle and compositional approach to a subject results in the best picture. A smartphone’s biggest weakness, however, is its inability to take good pictures in low light. This is why all those indoor shots often end up looking blurry and muted.
While professional photographers rely on the flash to assist with lighting, smartphones typically have a poor flash, which often makes the photo look yellow, washed out and overexposed. There are a few solutions to this issue:
Take advantage of natural light. Make sure your subject is facing a light source. If you’re indoors, take photos near windows, but never against as it will lead to an overexposed backdrop.
Use the HDR setting on your smartphone. High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography typically takes three to five photos of different exposures in a quick succession. Your phone then combines the images to create a single photo with a higher range of colors and brightness (learn how to use the HDR setting for iPhone or Android).
Gridlines And The Rule Of Thirds
There’s more to a good smartphone photo than the old point and click. Most mobile devices have a feature that allows you to turn on gridlines. Gridlines are a series of lines superimposed on your screen that help you better compose and set up your shot. And here’s where it gets technical – gridlines are based on the “rule of thirds,” a principle of composition that enables you to achieve a more naturally balanced photo. All you need to do is turn the phone sideways to use a landscape orientation, place the points of interest in the intersections or along the vertical/horizontal lines and voila! You have a shot that is visually appealing for your viewers.
Subject, Angle, And Symmetry
It’s easier to frame and compose a shot if you’re focusing on just one subject. Use negative space (the area around and between the main objects) to make your subject really pop. Negative space can be anything from a large expanse of sky to open water.
You should always try to match the height of your subject. For example, if you’re interested in taking a photo of your pet, try kneeling to the ground instead of angling the phone down. In order to achieve a more creative shot, find a unique angle or perspective. Of course, a unique angle is only part of a memorable composition. Look for symmetry, repetitive patterns and small details. If you want a more artistic shot, try playing with reflections or opt for extreme close-up; a close-up can create a beautiful abstract. Not only will you capture more detail, but you’ll also fill the whole frame with your subject. Remember – you’re better off stepping closer to a subject than using digital zoom.
How-To Take A Good Selfie
Did you know that “selfie” was named the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionary in 2013? The selfie (or a self-portrait photograph) has become increasingly popular among young adults and celebrities alike. While there’s no wrong way to take a selfie (it’s a form of self-expression after all), these tips will help you snap a selfie like a pro:
Distance is key. Don’t hold the phone too close to your head as it might result in lens distortion, making your face look wider than it actually is. The last thing you want is a selfie that looks like it was taken in a carnival funhouse. Make sure you look into the lens before you snap the picture (wandering eyes or a deer-in-the-headlights look are common with selfies). Finally, be aware of your outstretched arm – decide whether or not this is something you want showing in your selfie.
Don’t forget about the background. Yes, a selfie is all about, well… you. But that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore the background. Check the backdrop before you click. Is it clear? Does it have texture? Are there any strange intersections that will make it look like something is sticking out of your head? Oh, and watch out for anyone passing by – you don’t want a photobomb in your selfie!
Consider the light source. In order to get the best selfie, it’s best to be lit from the front or side. If your selfie is back-lit, your face might look dark and silhouetted.
Be still and relax. In order to get a clear, non-wobbly picture, you need to remain still. This is difficult when you’re both the photographer and the subject.
Be considerate. There’s a time and place for selfies. Before you start snapping pictures, consider your surroundings. Be considerate and thoughtful before you take a picture. Before you snap, ask yourself the following questions: Am I offending anyone? Am I exhibiting good etiquette?
There are a wealth of apps to edit, adjust, and manipulate digital photos. There are apps that crop, polish, replicate vintage filters, feature a range of presets, and reproduce the feel of film photography. There’s also popular photo sharing apps such as Instagram and Snapchat. In fact, there are so many apps that you could spend an eternity in a post-processing search for perfection, editing and adjusting. Here are 10 editing tools you should consider:
The best smartphone photo has nothing to do with the features on your phone. Your artistic eye, imagination, and the creative way you see the world is the basis of a memorable photograph. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try something new. There may be apps to craft and edit images, but photography starts with your unique and personal vision.
With the rise of mobile photography, everyone can be a storyteller in images. From candid snapshots to unexpected moments, follow these simple tricks and you’ll take better photos with your phone.