One of my passions is photography. I still have my Nikon 35mm camera that I used through high school and part of college. But, these days my phone is attached to my hip, along with my family, so my camera on my phone has become my number one source of life photos – and that’s OK! With technology these days, the major updates to phone versions usually entail enhancement of their cameras so by paying attention to a few key details, from angles you’re shooting to apps you’re using for editing, you can capture those unmissable moments. Below, I’ve compiled my top nine photography tips for professional-looking photos using your cell phone.
- Clean your lens
If you’re like me, my phone goes everywhere with me. Take a second before snapping and wipe off the camera lens. Phones collect dirt (it’s gross) and are oily and smudgy from fingerprints.
- Just use your camera (not the in-app one)
Some apps compress your photos when taken in them, so don’t use them if you want to be able to print the photo one day. I’d also recommend sticking with the normal setting on your phone and editing or adding filters later. Another tip, the camera will expose more accurately when you use a full frame, and again, if you want to print photos, you won’t have issues with sizing.
- Don’t zoom in.
The digital zoom on any phone is far inferior to the optical zoom of a quality SLR lens that is designed to NOT diminish the quality of the photo when zooming is needed. My recommendation is taking with photo without zooming at all, get as close as you can to your subject, don’t worry about the atmosphere surrounding your subject – sometimes that gives an even deeper meaning to the photo. Like I said with the filters earlier, if you need to crop later, you can edit your original photo.
- Take as many shots as you need.
You’re not using film here, so take as many shots as you want/need to. Use the “favorites” button in your iPhone photos app to pull out the best photos, then delete the ones you don’t want. It takes a few more minutes, but it frees up space on your phone. (I’m completely guilty of NOT following this tip – but, it really will help in storage).
- Understand the settings on your camera.
Let’s be honest, if you’re relaying on your phone as you’re main source of photos, you should probably understand the settings and options. I keep my HDR on “auto” and turn “off” my live photos. If I want a video, I’ll use that feature. Again, helps a good bit with space.
Play with your angles. Don’t just sit there and take photos of your subject from one point of view. Move around and take pictures from multiple angles. Doing this captures light and shadows in different ways and highlights your subject too.
Another tip – take photos of people without posing or staging. Some of the best photos I’ve taken of our family have been right in the moment of whatever was happening.
- Follow the Light
Lighting is the most important thing to pay attention to when taking a photography, and with any phone camera that is even more the case. Find a window, go outside, and embrace the natural light. Artificial lights leave an orange tone on your photos, so turn them off. From this post, you know I love my iPhone’s camera but I HATE the flash. I never use it. It is just terrible. Most phone cameras now-a-days are built to do well in low-light, so I’d keep the “auto” flash off.
- Use an app (after)
My top picks are VSCO, Camera Awesome (made by SmugMug), PicStitch, these are some of my favorites. I also use boomerang – because I have a little one that’s into sports and doesn’t stay still. I do use the filters in Instagram, but I try to do that sparingly. Did you know the hashtag #nofilter attracts more likes on lifestyle photography than any other?
- Print Your Photos + Buy the Storage
My parents have dozens of albums at their house that we love digging out and looking through. Up until a few years ago, I printed very few of the 100’s of photos I had taken, unless it was for a work project or client. I started using Chatbooks when Luke was born and I subscribed to their Photo Book Series (highly recommend) and I don’t even have to think about it. Once my next album fills from my Instagram posts I get an email and can add, edit or rearrange in the next book going to print. Also, I’ve had great luck using Walmart to print all types of photos and photobooks. I made this really nice picture collage for Dan’s 30 birthday and printed the photos in wallet size, which was perfect for any kind of photo. The size worked perfectly and allowed me to use more photos and not have to trim anything down to fit in the frame.
I can’t suggest this enough – invest. in. storage. We take photos everyday of our lives. They capture moments and are there to remind us of people and times that are so important to us. What would you do if you lost those? I know I’d be crushed. There are so many options to file storage in this day in age. Some are free, some are not. Do your research and backup your files. We recently started using Google Photos – it’s so easy, especially with the app. I’ve also found that they do some pretty cool things with your photos while storing them – create videos, add animation, make albums – and you can see all of that when you’re signed into Google.
Those are my top nine tips. Did I miss anything? Do you have suggestions on shooting with your phone cameras?