Gone are the days when taking a great photo meant going through a labor-intensive process.
Unlike the days of yore, we can now take high-quality photos, edit them without the need for fancy equipment, and share them with others near-instantaneously — and all on the same device! Proof? Just take a look at your Instagram.
No longer dedicated solely to the creation of one’s selfies, the camera phones of today have become an avenue for both budding and professional photographers to showcase their skills in photography.
Make no mistake though: taking a great photo on your smartphone is not as simple as pointing and shooting. As Conde Nast Traveler once put it: “Instagram has made everyone a photographer, but not all Instagrams are created equal.”
So, how does one make the most of his trusty smartphone when it comes to photography? And how does one get to shoot swoon-worthy shots while still having fun at the same time? Here, a short guide:
Know your gear.
What good is your phone’s fancy-schmancy, 50-megapixel quadcam when you don’t know how to shoot with it? Learn everything you can about your phone’s capabilities and limitations, and save yourself from unnecessary headaches when shooting.
Shoot in Manual Mode
Most phones now allow users to customize their camera settings. Go on Manual and play around with your camera’s shutter speed and ISO. This will make editing much easier.
Understand How Light Works
In photography, light is your main tool when it comes to making images so it’s best if you understand how it works. When composing your image, take your time and observe how light and shadow interact and contrast with one another, and use this to capture more visually interesting photos.
Tip: Diffused, indirect sunlight is flattering for most subjects. Shoot an hour or so after dawn or before sunset for best results.
Fill The Frame
If your shot is in danger of losing potential visual impact due to a busy background, crop in tight around your main subject, and eliminate the background altogether so all attention falls on your subject. This works particularly well with portraits.
Understand The Rule Of Thirds
The most basic of all photography rules, this means dividing your shot into nine equal sections using a set of vertical and horizontal lines and placing the most important element(s) in your shot on one of the lines or where the lines meet.
Tip: Most phones come with a grid option for shooting. Use that to your advantage.
Balance Your Image’s Elements
Achieve a balanced composition by evening out your positive space i.e. your main subject’s visual weight with negative space. Doing so makes your image look fresh and airy.
Make The Eye Dance
Basically this means you have to make your viewer’s eyes move throughout the photo. You can achieve this by looking for strong patterns, lines, and symmetry, and then using them in your composition.
While we all start out as sticklers for the rules, it pays to take risks when shooting. Snap a photo sideways. Try and capture a photo wrong side up.
Shoot a lot. Share only a few.
Learn the art of editing. Sure, you managed to take killer still-life images of your breakfast, but let’s be real, are you really going to flood your followers’ feeds with the same image the entire day?
When uploading photos, choose only your best work. In a world where your audience is at the receiving end of a barrage of photo albums, less is more.
Take your time shooting. A large part of photography involves waiting for what street photographer, photojournalist, and Magnum co-founder Henri Cartier-Bresson calls the “Decisive Moment.”
Keep Your Phone Clean
Unless you’re aiming for a dreamy, Old Hollywood-style image complete with cloudy vaseline vignettes, make it a habit to wipe off the grease and grime from your camera’s lens. Your phone will thank you for it.
Oh, and make sure you’ve enough juice in your phone when shooting. You don’t want it dying on you just as you’re about to take that One Shot.