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Phone Photography 101

We all know the importance of using imagery in marketing to capture attention, convey emotion, and showcase your brand. However, we may not always have access to a high quality camera or professional photographer – especially since they can be expensive. The good news is that smartphone cameras have become quite sophisticated in recent years. The improvement of features, such as with the iPhone 11, has allowed the average person without a camera to take high-quality photos. However, that doesn’t mean your photos will be instantly amazing – there are still some basic principles that you should know if you want to take professional photos with your phone’s camera. In this article, we lay out some tips and tricks to take your phone photography to the next level.

Use Gridlines

Gridlines are an easy way to balance your shot. Turning gridlines on divides your screen into nine rectangles to help achieve the “rule of thirds,” which is a type of composition where an image is divided evenly into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and the subject is placed at the intersection of those lines.

To turn on the grid on an iPhone: Go to “Settings,” choose “Photos & Camera,” and switch “Grid” on.

Look For Symmetry

Not all balanced photos are symmetrical, but all symmetrical photographs are balanced. Symmetry is a very simple way to compose a photo that is pleasing to the eye. When split down the middle, both sides of a photo don’t have to be the exact same to achieve symmetry, but they should be equally balanced.

Keep Your Photos Simple

Focus on one subject and remove unwanted distracting objects from the shot. To help the subject stand out, use negative space  (the space around and between the subject of an image). Keeping your photos simple and using minimalist compositions will help your photos stand out better on social media

Set the Camera’s Focus

Phone cameras automatically focus on the foreground of the shot, but if there is no obvious subject you can tap on the screen where you want the camera to focus. On iPhones, you can hold the screen to lock the focus if you want.

Take Candid Photos

Sometimes, candid photos of people doing things, such as employees working, or people interacting can be more effective in capturing a moment. The best way to do this is to take a bunch of photos and choose from the one that feels right. Most newer phones have a burst capture mode that lets you take many photos very quickly, which can be very useful if the subjects are moving a lot.

Use Unexpected Angles

Most people take photos from chest height, which is usually most convenient. However, getting creative with your angles can produce some amazing results. Unique, unexpected angles can make photos more memorable. Try shooting from a different perspective, such as from a lower angle, or a slight downward angle.

Show Depth

One challenge with photography is showing a three-dimensional object in a two-dimensional frame. When you add depth, it helps draw your viewer into the scene. One way to do this is to look for “leading lines.” Leading lines are lines that draw the viewer’s attention to the subject. Leading lines can be things like paths, rivers, roads. Another way to create depth is to include objects in the foreground, middleground, and background.

Look For Patterns

Repeating patterns like lines, geometric patterns, and colors are very pleasing to the eye, and can have a strong visual impact. There are repeating patterns everywhere in our daily lives through architecture, portrait, and nature. Consider an up-close perspective to highlight a pattern’s details, or a zoomed out perspective that allows you to see the pattern as a whole.

Get the Lighting Right

If possible, try to use natural light. Many skilled photographers will combine natural and artificial lighting. However, natural light is usually preferred over artificial lighting if you don’t have access to high quality lighting equipment. Try to avoid flash if you can. If you’re shooting at night, try changing the camera app’s exposure slider to increase light in the photo.

Play With Reflections Like Water, Glass, Metal, and Ice

Reflections are everywhere, and they can make great subjects. Our eyes are drawn to reflections. You can also get some great photos if you include both a subject and its reflection. This can create a symmetrical composition with a strong impact.

Avoid Zooming In

It’s tempting to zoom in if the subject is far away, but it’s best to avoid zooming in as it can make the photo blurry or pixelated. It’s best to get close to your subject if possible. If not, it’s better to crop the photo later on to retain the quality.

Reflections are everywhere, and they can make great subjects. Our eyes are drawn to reflections. You can also get some great photos if you include both a subject and its reflection. This can create a symmetrical composition with a strong impact.

Edit Your Photos

Use a photo editing app like Lightroom or VSCO – both of which are free. Avoid using the preset Instagram filters and start playing around with custom editing in these apps. They have great presets, but it’s best to customize them to each photo and to work on developing a consistent editing style for your photos for consistency.

The Bottom Line

Spending some time refining your phone photography skills is well worth the effort, as the end result will be more engaging, better-performing content! Not sure where to start? Search online and save photography you want to try and recreate. Each photo in this article is from Unsplash.com, a free stock photography website, which is a great source of inspiration. Then, get to know the settings and options on your device, experiment with angles and composition, and download some editing apps to play around with. Most importantly, have fun!

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