No Camera, No Problem – Phone Photography 101

Photography used to be an expensive and time-consuming hobby, but today the door has been opened to everyone who owns a smartphone, and the hundreds of websites dedicated to showcasing people’s photos are a testament to the popularity of the hobby. But with so much competition out there, how do you make your pictures stand out from the crowd? What skills carry over from traditional photography, and what new tricks are out there for an aspiring shutterbug armed with a smartphone? With a few tricks, phone photography holds its own.

Whether you want to capture your loved ones, a beautiful landscape from your African Safari Holiday, or even a beloved pet – let’s explore some of the apps, social media platforms and tricks of the trade that can help make your phone photography shots really unique and impressive!

Phone photography versus traditional cameras

While there are certainly some limitations to working just with a smartphone camera, such as limits on image resolution and quality, there’s one aspect where a smartphone wins hands down – and that’s portability. With a camera available in your pocket at a moment’s notice, they are also great for capturing those fleeting moments. On a vacation or trip outdoors, they’re especially useful because you don’t have to lug extra equipment with you. (And who can deny the allure of those spur-of-the-moment selfies!)

Teach yourself about composition with video

No Camera, No Problem - Phone Photography 101

Capturing stills from a video is another option that you don’t get with a traditional film camera, and it’s a good way for beginners who don’t have much experience with composition to learn about what makes a great shot. If you have a particular image in mind that you want to capture, take a video moving slowly between several angles and from different distances. By breaking the video down into frames and seeing which angles work best, you can gain valuable experience until the process becomes intuitive and you ‘get your eye in’. There are several iOS and Android apps like Video 2 Photo that will help you do just this.

The shot you got is just the beginning

No Camera, No Problem - Phone Photography 101

One of the biggest bonuses about digital photos is that the picture you took is only the starting point! With so many filters you can apply, visual affects you can add, and edits you can make, the image you captured is really just a canvas. And you don’t have to be comfortable with software like Photoshop to take advantage of all the digital tools at your disposal.

Begin by making sure your photos don’t languish on your hard drive or cloud storage – there are hundreds of websites to help you showcase them. Most come with embedded free photo editing apps that will let you intensify or change colors, crop your image to center the subject, and brighten or darken the final result.

There are even dedicated websites like where you can take tutorials and perfect your skills!

Social media platforms and online forums

If you’re looking for photographic inspiration, then you’re really going to be spoiled for choice with all the social media platforms dedicated to sharing photos! If you’re visiting a new destination, then one of the best ways to research it is via Instagram, Flickr, Imgur or Tumblr, to name just a few. There are often beautiful locations that might not make it into the official travel guide that some lucky visitors have stumbled upon and shared online which can make wonderful additions to a holiday. If you come upon a subject you’ve seen a photo of before, challenge yourself by trying to get a different angle or a unique perspective.

Some general tips

Make sure that your lens isn’t dirty! Dust and grime build up slowly over time, so you might not even notice that your pictures are suffering as a result. Use a soft cloth to wipe the lens from time to time.

Check your default picture settings – almost all phones allow you to choose the default resolution for your photos in order to save space, and if you’re after the best shot, then you want to set this to the highest resolution possible. Also, try to avoid adding built-in effects (like sepia or black and white) until you’ve seen your pictures on a bigger screen. Often the small screen of your phone doesn’t do justice to the details you’ve captured, so use your phone to take plain originals, and then do edits on your PC, laptop or tablet. Don’t use built-in effects or frames just because they’re there!

Practice makes perfect

No Camera, No Problem - Phone Photography 101

There’s no better teacher than experience, and phone photography is no exception. The more you play around, experiment and take risks, the more confident you’ll become – and the better your shots will be!

What say you?
Thoughts on these Phone Photography tips?
Let’s hear it!

No Camera, No Problem - Phone Photography 101

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