At 500px, we firmly believe that your tools are just that—tools. We get asked “what are the best cameras and lenses for specific shots?” quite a bit. Whether you shoot with a phone, a great photographer can make beautiful photos using any device capable of capturing images.
Now, let’s get practical. Want to take better photos with your smartphone? Great! We asked four talented 500px photographers to share their tips for making the most of your phone’s camera.
So if you want to start capturing smartphone photos like the ones above, get out a pen and paper (or, more likely, a text file on your laptop), and prepare to take notes:
1. Be ready!
I always keep my phone in camera mode so that when I unlock it, it’s ready for taking pictures. A good moment is so easy to lose. There can be no excuses such as, “Oh, my phone is somewhere in my bag,” because we are talking about mobile photography. Your phone should be in your hand.
It may be an obvious thing to say, but nevertheless, you should remember to charge your phone and to keep your lens clean. I carry a charger with me most of the time to use, for example, if I’m having coffee in some nice cafe, but the charger won’t save me in the forest.
I also often switch my phone to airplane mode. Not only does it help save the phone’s battery, but it also eliminates distractions and forces you to focus on photography.
2. Don’t think twice, take pictures whenever you want and of whatever you wish!
If you doubt whether to take a picture or not—take it! Snap it! Some moments will not be repeated. If you don’t like your picture, you can always delete it, but if you lose the moment, you wouldn’t be able to turn back time and catch it. Don’t overthink and hesitate, because there’s nothing to lose.
3. Light is the answer!
Let’s not forget that photography is all about using light. Even the most boring composition will be saved by the good light, no matter if it’s day or evening.
4. Learn the technical quirks of your phone camera
Find out the strong and weak sides of your phone. I know that my Phone isn’t good at night photography. The pictures are noisy and blurred. That’s why I try to use it only in the daytime.
Don’t be lazy, read the manual and make sure you’re using your phone in the most efficient circumstances. We may be self-confident and think that we know it all, but sometimes little tips in the manual can help us improve our photos in a big way. Learn how you can control the exposure or focus on the objects better, for example.
5. Don’t use zoom!
I think this is the first step towards taking a bad smartphone picture. If you want to zoom in on something, use your legs and move! Don’t forget that this is just a phone, and its capabilities are generally not the same as a DSLR lens.
6. Select and retouch!
Be selective! Try to choose only the best pictures and then edit those.
There are many apps that will help you to do this, and while we can’t understate their help in creating beautiful images, don’t try too hard. You should remember that sometimes a picture is much better without filters.
It’s also worth mentioning that there is no “magic” application. Sometimes a picture can not be saved and instead of “torturing” it, you’d be better off taking another photo. Try to use fewer filters and more individual adjustments that you can apply—each of of your photographs is different, so take an individual approach to editing them, too.
7. Choose unique angles
Try shooting from the dog’s view—this will make you look at the objects from a new perspective.
Also learn to use the grid, and then, just as importantly, learn to do without it.
8. Make your pictures come alive!
Print your pictures, send them as postcards, give them to your friends, hang them on your walls. Holding your pictures in your hands is such a lovely feeling, and it can’t be compared with looking at your pictures on a smartphone screen.
9. Don’t try to stick to one style!
I see a lot of people nowadays trying to shoot in one style, or even the same exact colors—don’t do this! Remember that versatility is great and showcases your creativity.
Who said that you can only be interested in landscape photography? If you feel like taking a portrait of someone, then do so. Don’t pigeonhole yourself. Be eager and don’t stop shooting. Your own unique style will develop!
10. And last, but not the least…
– A warm breakfast tastes better than it looks… put your phone away and eat the damn thing.
– Don’t cross the road while editing pictures.
– Love what you do and don’t let the critics get you down too much.
– Don’t sit at home. Explore!