Wondering what the secret is to taking great photos using only your phone? There's no magic trick that will give you perfect images with the click of a button (sorry to disappoint you!) but there are a few simple tips and techniques that will help you to improve your images straight out of camera- and keep your editing to a minimum.
If your photos are for professional use for your business, chances are you may still want to edit them. Ideally though, we want editing to be used to enhance our image rather than relying on it to correct mistakes we made. It's much better to get a great image out of camera than it is to spend hours editing- whether you’re an amateur, a hobbyist or a professional.
Here are my top tips for getting better photos, right out of camera, on your phone:
Side note: all images shown here have been taken with my phone (rather than my professional camera)- I use a Huawei P20 pro- and are unedited.
1) Find the best light.
Photography is all about light, and the better you understand it the better your photos will be. It takes a lot of time and practice to really master light (I'm still learning new things about light and I've been shooting professionally for 12 years now!) but there are some quick and easy things you can try that will make a massive difference in the quality of your photos:
Use natural light wherever possible. If you are inside find the biggest window in your space, and use that light! If you are outdoors- find the sun.
Try placing your subject (person or object) so that they/it are facing towards the window light or the sun. Position yourself between the window/sun and your subject , but slightly off to one side so that you aren’t blocking the light and creating a shadow. This will provide nice, even light across your subject.
You can also position your subject so that the light hits them from one side, or so that the light is behind them (with their back to the window/sun) for more creative results- you will get more shadows and/or highlights this way, for a moodier photo.
If you are outdoors and it’s a bright sunny day, try to find a shady spot to produce that soft, even light. If you are indoors and the sun is shining directly into your window, move your subject further back or into another spot in the room where the light is still bright, but not so harsh.
If you are taking a photo with your phone, use your finger to tap the focus of your photo on your screen: your subject or your object. Your phone will read the light that’s on the subject and adjust settings accordingly for the best results. If you touch the background instead you might end up with a subject that is too dark or too bright.
I could go on about lighting forever- so I’ll do a separate blog post on that soon. But those are some quick and easy lighting tips you can start using right away to improve your photos!
2) Find the right focus.
You want the viewer's eye to be drawn to your subject, and that's where you should be focusing your shot. Images with no focus (ie. blurry) or the focus in the wrong place (ie. backdrop in focus instead of your subject) look unprofessional and can be quite confusing to the viewer- they don't know where they are supposed to look.
To focus using a camera phone, you simply use your finger to tap your subject on the screen: this will tell your camera to focus specifically on your subject.
Bonus tip: If you are doing a closeup of someone’s face, you always want to focus on the eyes!
3) Frame your photo carefully.
Consider the other things that are in your frame (backdrop, additional objects, furniture, signs, wall art, etc), and how close up (or far back) you want your subject to be in the image.
Are there any distractions that take away from your subject? Look at what else is in the frame apart from your subject, and decide if you want it there or not. Often we can quickly remove objects from the area, or move our subject elsewhere to avoid these things (if they are things we can’t physically move) and this saves a lot of time in editing. (It is possible to edit objects out afterwards, but it can be quite time consuming to do it well.)
How close do you want to be to your subject? Try to frame your image so that it doesn't require any cropping- you can do this by moving closer/further or side to side so that your subject is exactly where you want it to be. This saves you from having to crop the image later, which, apart from taking up more editing time can also affect the image quality.
4) Take more than one photo.
Don’t just snap one quick photo- take at least a handful of images of each subject so that you have a smalls election of images to choose from.
Try shooting your subject from different angles (straight ahead, off to one side, eye level, bird's eye view, etc).
Try shooting your subject from different distances (some wider shots, with more negative space, and some close up shots- maybe some in the middle too for good measure).
This way, you have a few options to choose from, and can choose the one you like best- instead of wishing you had taken a photo closer to your subject or from above instead of from eye level, for example.
5) Avoid using zoom & flash.
While handy in a difficult situation, these in camera options tend to produce poor quality images and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
Your in-camera zoom (most phone offer a 3x, 5x or even a 10x zoom) will usually result in grainy photos, and often your image might not be very sharp or even be out of focus. You’re much better to simply move closer to your subject if possible. If this isn’t possible (ie. you’re taking a picture of wildlife and are worried about scaring it away) you can always crop your photo later.
Your in-camera flash will produce very harsh lighting in your photos- images that look washed out and often make people look like their skin is translucent. You’re much better to move to a brighter space (if possible) or even outdoors.
I hope these tips helped! I’m currently putting together a full online workshop specifically for taking better photos with your phone- if you'd like the details please get in touch with me at email@example.com.
Looking for a little more help with your brand photography?
I can help! I offer online workshops, one to one training (currently done over Zoom), and brand photography services in Glasgow, Edinburgh and central Scotland.
Want to learn how to take better photos for your business in a relaxed & supportive place? Join my (free) facebook community "Brand Photography 101" by clicking here.
Wanting to upgrade or update your brand images? Drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to set up a complimentary consultation over Zoom/Facetime/Skype- a nice relaxed chat about your business and your photography needs (obligation free) over a coffee or a glass of wine.
Or get in touch with any questions at email@example.com.