I often get asked how I got started in photography, what equipment to buy and generally how to take good photos.
The truth is though, without spending thousands of pounds on expensive DSLR camera's, for the most part, we all own a smartphone that's equipped with a decent little camera. This can be just enough to dip your toes into the world of photography, and believe it or not, you can actually get some pretty good photos armed with a little bit of knowledge and an iPhone.
Now, I'm not saying you should actually let Steve who works in accounts loose with his iPhone 6 to capture your wedding, because whilst smartphone cameras are good, they're no replacement for a professional photographer.
But, what we can do, is learn all the basics of taking good photos, and at the very least, we can get your Instagram and Facebook looking decent enough with just a few basic tips and tricks!
Check your phone settings!
This probably sounds daft, but sometimes by default, the camera on your phone is sometimes isn't set to its optimal settings. Manufacturers do this, as inherently better quality photos take up more of your phones valuable storage, so upping that image quality can already provide a much-needed boost to your phone cameras capability. If your phone is equipped with it, enabling things like HDR (High Dynamic Range) can improve things even more!
Don't take photo's with a filter on!
This is something I actually practice when taking photos on my DSLR. Always take photos in full colour. What I'm saying is steer clear of actually taking photos with black and white, sepia, and things like skin smoothing filters already applied. The reason behind this is fairly simple and allows you a little bit more flexibility when it comes to deciding how you want your image to look ultimately. Adding a filter is easy, taking it away, not so much! If I take a photo in full colour, it's a lot easier to apply a black and white filter on it after taking the photo. Taking a black and white photo, then deciding you want it in full colour is possible, but it'll never look good, and is nigh on impossible on a smartphone!
I can't emphasise enough how important correct lighting is when taking photos. It's the difference between a really good photo and a rubbish one. Knowing how to manipulate lighting can really create a bit of drama in your photos and can make those selfies look better from the get-go! So, always try to have the light hitting your subject from a different angle to the direction the camera is pointing, think about where shadows are going to fall and if you're taking a portrait, don't shoot with the sun directly in the eyes of your subject! Look for other sources of light, even simply sitting next to a window or using a street light as a method of lighting your subject will make your photo look more dynamic.
Steer clear of the flash!
This goes hand in hand with correct lighting. Turn off that flash! Using the flash on your phone will not be in the slightest bit flattering as the light comes from the same direction as the camera is pointing. All you're going to create is dodgy highlights and shadows that will quite honestly look terrible. If you MUST use the flash, Maybe stick a sheet of paper over the flash (Not the actual camera!), this helps soften the light and will diffuse those highlights. It's still not ideal, but taking the harshness out of the flash will make the world of difference.
Clean your lens!
Sound's pretty obvious when you think about it now doesn't it? Phones get used and abused on a daily basis, and for the most part, they're pretty resilient. If your lens is covered with lint out of your pocket, fingerprints and general grime, that's going to show on your photos! The tiniest speck of dust on your lens can make or break your pictures, so make sure that lens is clean!
Tap to focus!
Most phones have this feature now, and it's an absolute game-changer! Photographers use focusing techniques to really capture the essence of the subject. By simply tapping the main subject of your photo on the screen before taking your photo, you'll notice that other areas of the picture start to look a little blurry. Believe it or not, this is exactly what you want, as it focuses the attention on the part of the photo you're actually interested in! Think about if you're taking a picture of someone in the middle of a crowd, you don't care about the other strangers in the background, so focusing your subject will draw the eye towards the main object of your photo!
To be honest, we're just scratching the surface here, as there's so much to learn when it comes to taking photos. Technology has come such a long way, but relying on just the phones processing ability will create dull and lifeless photos. Thinking about the composition of your picture, and just taking a couple of minutes to consider your surroundings before snapping your photo can and will make the world of difference.
Now, it goes without saying every phone model will vary in terms of its settings, image quality and ability, so google is your friend when it comes to figuring out the correct settings for your specific Smartphone.
I really hope there's some good food for thought there, and if this blog has inspired you to go out and get snapping, I'd love to see some of your pictures, as I've got lots more tips I'm prepared to share with you!
Peace, Love and Photos.