Today it’s so easy to capture a special moment in the greatest of ease with the use of your phone camera. Though I’ve been a professional photographer for 20+ years, I find the convenience of my camera phone to be the most fun for daily use. However, there are some photography rules which can turn a ho hum shot into a “WOW, how do you do that?” kind of image.
Rule of Thirds:
Rather than placing your subject dead center, think of your view as a grid and put it left, right, above or below the center of the frame. Better yet, fill the frame.
When photographing landscapes and other busy content, it looks great to have a strong foreground image offset by an interesting background. This visual separation adds interest to the eye.
By doing this when photographing people and other subjects, you draw the viewer in and the image becomes memorable. Capturing laughter is my favorite, but a true photo journalist will capture emotions in a different way; sometimes shock, sadness or any emotion which compels the viewer. I’ve found that the most memorable photos over the years are the one which have emotionally moved me.
Posing Your Subjects:
Always, always, always take an objective look at the people you’re about to photograph. If they are large or wearing busy clothing, ask them to turn to the side a bit and lean towards you. Shoot from above them slightly so that they look up towards you. If they have a thick neck, this is very flattering and creates a better jaw line. Don’t forget to crop! If they look best from the shoulders up, why show more?
There is so much to tell you about this. Fortunately, most of our camera phones are very good at metering light. You can almost always go back and edit your lighting, but there are some situations which are more challenging. I rarely use my built in flash because it tends to give my subjects ”crazy eyes”. I could get into the science of why this happens but that’s another post on another day. But the same principle holds true when you photograph animals using a flash, except then it becomes “crazy animal eyes”, which isn’t an endearing quality for your beloved pet photos. So I’m always looking for ways to incorporate ambient or natural light. Backlighting should be avoided if your subject’s face is darker than the background. Bright shade or filtered window light I find to be the most flattering. Full sun is harsh and will show flaws you didn’t even know existed.
From a photography standpoint, I’ve had good luck with my Motorola Android and have recently been impressed with my husband’s Google phone. The light meter seems to be more sensitive, thus better shots, especially in night photography.
You should have phone editing tools built into your phone. Some will even do the work for you. Here are some manual tweaks I like to do to further enhance my images. For nature photography pop the contrast, add vibrance, and/or saturation. Crop out the elements which only make the image look cluttered.
My current favorite app for touching up people and blurring background. It allows you to smooth and correct skin flaws, flyaway hair, and fabric wrinkles. You can even brighten teeth. It’s a user-friendly app which allows for easy social sharing. You can also save and print the image. How cool is that?
The Artsy Crowd:
I love using the PicsArt app. You can add text, frames, graphics and create some very cool looks. It’s also fairly social media friendly although they like to brand themselves within your image.
For many of us it’s fun to socially post photos of you and your friends and family. Here’s a bit of advice – only post friends and colleagues’ photos when it’s a good shot. Don’t post unflattering photos of others. Live by this rule and your friends will forever clamor to be in your photographs.
When to Hire a Professional Photographer:
Enjoy your phone photography and remember if it’s a special occasion such as a wedding, anniversary party, graduation, family portraits or business headshots, call a professional. Let them do the work so you can relax and be in the photograph, looking your best. It’s worth the investment.