Mobile Phone Photography Tips to Help You Shoot Like A Pro
Almost all of us carry our phones everywhere, whether for traveling, family gatherings, or special occasions. It’s light, small, and inconspicuous, which bulky DSLRs can’t compete with.
But along with the conveniences, it also has limitations. For photographers who are used to having full control of the settings when using DSLR, the simple phone camera features are not enough to let them use their full potential.
In this article, we’re going to give the ultimate phone photography tips that can help you shoot like a pro to produce high-quality images. We’ll explore the manual controls for various settings in your phone camera, useful mobile photography apps, and a different angle on what kind of photos you can take using your mobile phone camera.
1. Go manual
Some phone cameras are already equipped with manual settings, which you should use to your advantage. Manual settings can work wonders in your photo, especially when you capture landscapes.
To work with the manual settings, you can choose Pro or Expert mode for Android phones. This will allow you to have more control of the ISO, shutter speed, white balance, and in some cameras, aperture as well.
For iPhone users, focus and exposure can be easily adjusted by tapping on your screen and play with the exposure meter. For those of you who have an iPhone 7, you can take advantage of the portrait mode with the f/1.8 aperture. Unfortunately, these are the only things you can adjust manually with the iPhone camera. For ISO, shutter speed, and white balance, you need to install a third-party app such as Camera+.
2. Underexpose your shot
Now that you know how to adjust the exposure manually, we’re on to the next tip: underexpose your shot. How does underexposing help you improve the quality of your shot?
- It keeps the details in the shot – you risk losing the details when you overexpose your shot, and it’s usually impossible to get the details back, even with the help of editing tools
- It’s easier to brighten a photo rather than darkening it
Underexposed photos give you more room to play with in the post-processing, and you’ll still retain the details and quality of the photos. It’s easier to work with slightly darker photos rather than overexposed photos.
3. Experiment with the white balance
Nowadays, smartphones come with an adjustable white balance function which allows you to modify colour balance in your images, depending on the shooting conditions. As mentioned earlier, the Pro/Expert mode on Android enables you to set the white balance manually, while for iPhone users, you can use Camera+ or VSCO Camera.
Experiment with this feature to get a good feel for the impact that it has on your shots. It impacts different camera phones differently, so make sure you get it checked. You can try to tweak the white balance in your phone while shooting your photos, instead of during post-processing.
4. Shoot in burst mode to capture the moment
For phone photographers, it is all about capturing the moment. It’s not always easy as most of these moments are fleeting, so shoot in burst mode whenever you can. A good photographer loves to analyze the settings before a good photo, so take in the environment and the lighting in particular, and get your phone in ready to shoot.
5. Look for patterns, textures, and details
DSLR photographers can play with depth of field and other lens effects to create striking imagery, but what can mobile photographers do to make sure their photos get the same attention? They can use patterns and textures to draw everyone’s attention.
Subjects with intricate details can add something extra to your photos, either as the point of interest or background. Beautiful tiles or textured walls, for example, can instantly add interesting elements to your photos.
6. Use humans as the focal point
This is a trick used by many photographers these days to get the perfect shot of a vertical landscape, usually shot from a lower ground level. The idea here is to get a person to stand as the centrepoint of the photo and shoot them from a far distance. This works wonders for photos captured on empty roads, railway tracks, and linear angles.
7. Capture little kids
Kids make for excellent subjects in photos that you want to experiment with. They are small, so they can make the surroundings appear bigger. You can, for example, keep them placed at the bottom of the frame of the photo and capture the background in landscape view.
The best photos of kids come out when you capture them candidly. Give them a fun prop to play with, and let them wander around. You know you’ve nailed it when you can capture their free spirits.
8. Edit sensibly
Make your images unique, not garish. Do not add mountains of filter on them. If you want to showcase your photo in a natural way with a few tweaks, try changing the resolution or brightness/contrast features. Do not change the entire look of the photo for the sake of social media apps.
You can invest in an image editing app like SnapSeed, Photoshop Express, or Lightroom. These apps can help you edit without making the photos appear too garish and allow you to tweak the brightness, contrast and other important elements in the photo. The Lightroom mobile app also allows you to synchronise everything with your desktop Lightroom, including the presets. This means you can use your own presets to edit photos on your phone.
9. Print your photos
You might be thinking, ‘How is printing photos going to help?’
There are a few advantages of printing your photos:
It helps you see your photos in a different light
In prints, it’s easier to see the imperfections and things that need improvement. Exposure, focus, composition, and even your editing will become more pronounced in prints compared to on screen. You can take notes on the areas that you need to work on.
It prevents you from losing your photos
Your phone might be a good gear for photography, but it’s also fragile and prone to accidents. Before you lose your photos forever, make sure you print them and keep them safe. Collect a series of photobooks for every important moment in your life!
10. Use mobile photography apps
Apart from the basic phone photography tips and techniques, there are also an array of different apps you can download on your phone to enhance your images. Some of these include:
Camera FV-5 is a popular Android app that lets you use settings that professional photographers use. The exposure, white balance, ISO and shutter speed make shooting photos an easier task for the impatient photographer.
With this app, you get over ten composition grids and nine crop guides on the viewfinder screen. There’s also a DSLR-like viewfinder display that enables you to see real-time aperture, stops display with EV, bracketing, and exposure time.
This app also allows you to take beautiful night shots and time-lapse videos.
ProShot is an all-rounder app, with white balance adjustments, exposure control, shutter speed settings, RAW export, grid overlays, and custom aspect ratios. The app comes with tools and features that are unique and lets the photographer browse around in a user-friendly interface. In fact, there are more options for you to toy around within this app, like zero-lag bracket exposure, live histogram, and many more.
A lot of youngsters out there already know about this app and its hipster editing features too, which makes for great Instagram photos. Not only is this a great editing app, it is also a good app to capture photos, especially landscapes. The post-processing in VSCO is pretty easy and there are a wide array of different features to choose from.
Bacon Camera boasts itself as the first camera app with manual controls that can make your phone camera function just like the DSLR. Looking at the features, it certainly offers the things that a DSLR camera does, including manual controls of focus, white balance, exposure compensation, and ISO. Other features include RAW support and live histogram for RGB and Luminance.
Bacon Camera also allows you to shoot a well-timed photo with ease. This feature, however, is more helpful for portrait shoots, not candid motion photos.
Yet another cool camera app for your phone with excellent video quality and several features which include burst mode, GIF makers, manual DSLR settings. As a bonus, it also includes a selfie light for you to capture the scary version of you in the dark. On a serious note, this is a fun app you can download if you wish to experiment with light and settings for a clearer shot.
In conclusion, your mobile phone camera can be a powerful tool if you know how to use it. Going manual will help you create better images as you have more control over the settings, but it’s not only about the techniques. Sometimes it all lies in the subjects of the photos, so don’t sweat! Shoot what you love, and love what you shoot!
Would you like to get more photography tips and inspiration? Subscribe to our newsletter below!