Creative Content, Editors Pick, Photography, Social Media

The Fundamentals of Mobile Photography

Time to Read: 6 minutes

 

Your mobile phone is the best camera you have on you right now.  And virtually anybody with a smartphone now can take good quality photographs.

 

Gone are the days of blurry 3-megapixel camera phones (think flip-phone days). The iPhone X alone has the capabilities of producing beautiful professional-looking photos, almost as high definition as a digital camera. 

 

Just have a scroll through Instagram’s hashtag #iPhonePhotography or #ShotOniPhoneX and you’ll see what I mean.  

 

As a brand or business trying to build a social presence online, you want to keep a consistent visual aesthetic. While hiring a professional photographer who is also social media savvy would be ideal, it would be a missed opportunity not to learn a few DIY tips so you can create great content on-the-go.

 

The best part is that the essential features are already built-in your phone – all you’ll need to do is learn a few basics. 

 

Our Studio Coordinator and part-time photography teacher, Zara, has laid out 12 must do’s for mobile photography.

 

12 tips for amazing mobile photography

 

 

SETTINGS

 

The first step is to enable a few settings. Each phone and camera is different, but there are generic settings we should be using to make the most of our phone’s abilities. Here we are using the iPhone.

 

mobile photography

Go to settings to access your camera settings.

 

 

Grid

 

Turning your grid ON will help you to line up your shot perfectly. It will also help you to have spots to place your subject – the junctions where the grids meet are visually pleasing places for a subject to be placed.

 

AUTO HDR/Rich Tone

 

High Dynamic Range, or HDR, means the difference between what’s bright and what’s dark in the one image. Having a high level of difference means we receive more information and therefore a more realistic looking image. It keeps the sky blue and the shadows brighter.

 

This option on iPhone comes with another switch, asking if you’d like to keep the “normal photo” as well – this is an unnecessary use of space, so feel free to turn this off.

 

Formats

 

JPEG is the most universally used image format for the internet. If your phone can shoot in RAW, try this out and see if you prefer the image detail. If you’re not fussed, JPEG will do exactly what you need it to do. In terms of picture size, choose either 3:2 or 4:3, and the standard video size now is FHD.

 

Larger photo and video sizes are good if you eventually want to edit them, but they use up more space, so if you’re not into thorough editing, the settings mentioned above are more than adequate.

 

Live Mode/Motion Photo

 

The Live/Motion photo (accessed through ‘Preserve Settings’) is a mini 1-second video, to help you capture those moments when something is moving pretty quickly. You’re then able to change the main image associated with the photo, which helps if you have something specific in mind.

 

Once the main image is chosen, this is what will export when you try to send this to someone, or upload it somewhere.

 

mobile photography

Go to ‘Preserve Settings’ to enable/disable Live Photo.

 

COMPOSITION

 

The way I explain composition to my students is that in other art forms, the canvas is blank and waiting for the artist to paint it. With a photo, your canvas is already painted, and composition is all about how you frame it. These guidelines will help you look at your scene in a different way to create something a little more artistic.

 

Rule of Thirds

 

The grid setting in your camera is the outline for the Rule of Thirds. It’s the idea of breaking your scene up – top, middle and bottom third, then left, middle and right third.

 

The grid is the lines between the thirds, which makes it easier to place your subjects in more aesthetically pleasing places, especially on the junction spots.

 

Try placing your horizon on the bottom line and fill your photo with the sky, or if you have two people in your image, place each face on the top line junctions.

 

mobile photography

Photos by Unsplash.

 

 

Symmetry

 

There’s something so incredibly satisfying about a perfectly centred symmetrical image. If you have a room or space with a wonderful flow, stand directly in the middle of the two spaces and make sure everything is straight and even.

 

mobile photography

Photo by Skyline Creative.

 

 

Breathing Space

 

Keeping your image simple and minimalistic is easy if you remember to give your subject some breathing space.

 

Instead of getting up close to your subject to fill up the screen, just take a few steps back and leave plenty of space around the subject, especially if the background is plain and simple. This brings your viewer’s eye directly where you want them to look.

 

mobile photography

Photo by Skyline Creative.

 

 

EDITING

 

Our phones are full of editing options, including filters (if that’s your thing). Having a go-to filter helps with your aesthetic and keeps things consistent, so don’t knock it until you try it! 

 

The main options to pay attention to are your exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, and saturation.

 

mobile photography

Hit ‘edit’ above the photo to access the pre-made filters and basic editing options.

 

Exposure

 

This relates to the overall brightness or darkness of the image. Editing this option will affect the entire image.

 

Contrast

 

This relates to the blacks and the whites in the images. Decreasing your contrast will make the image more grey and flat; increasing your contrast will make your image more punchy with darker blacks and starker whites.

 

Highlights

 

This relates to the brighter parts of the image – the sky, patches of sunlight, lights, etc. Decreasing this will bring the brightness of these down, bringing some detail back. Be careful not to go too far, or your image will start getting a weird grey feel to it.

 

Shadows

 

This relates to the darker areas of your image – the literal shadows, but also anything with a darker tone to it like clothing. Increasing this will brighten them up and bring some detail back, but again, don’t push it too far or it will get a weird unnatural feel to it.

 

Saturation

 

This setting affects the colours within the image. Decreasing the saturation will make the colours more muted, which helps on brighter days, and increasing the saturation will make the colours more punchy, which helps on overcast days. 

 

Some phones also allow you to change the individual colours of an image. This is referred to as HSL – Hue, Saturation and Luminance.

 

Hue is the colour of the colour, for example, greens can be either more yellow or more of a blue tone. Changing the hue of grass can make it feel like it’s dying (towards the yellow end) or give it more life (more towards the blue end).

 

Luminance is the brightness of the colour, so decreasing the luminance of orange can make a person look a little more tanned, or increasing the luminance of blue would make the sky lighter.

 

These basics of mobile photography will elevate your presence

 

Good content makes the world go round, and it’s become crucial for anyone who wants to build a brand or social presence online to keep a consistent visual aesthetic. With the powerful in-built capabilities of the smartphone and keeping in mind these few rules and tricks, you can now create content on-the-go that will help make your brand stand out. 

 

[Learn the basics of filming for Instagram Stories]

 

P.s., Since you’ve just become a certified badass iPhone photographer, you’ll probably become the designated photographer in the friend group now. Sorry, not sorry.

 


 

If you want to learn more about how to add value to your content strategy that will drive sales, engagement and growth, hit us up and let’s chat.