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I love taking photos on a phone, because it is so carefree, fun, and liberating.

If anyone tells you that a phone camera isn’t a “real” camera, just walk away and ignore them.

I recently tested the OnePlus 5 and had a lot of fun with the camera, and sparked some ideas to take better pictures on your phone, regardless if you have an iPhone or Android.

1. Photograph textures, and get very close.

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The good thing shooting with a phone is that you can get VERY CLOSE to whatever you want to shoot.

Assignment: Find interesting textures, and TOUCH THEM before shooting them. Then don’t zoom on your phone, just stick it really close to the texture, and FILL THE FRAME.

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With textures, just shoot any texture which interests you. For me, I prefer mostly organic materials (wood, stone) or things that wear and tear over time (rust, patina, brass):

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For another assignment, spend an entire day only shooting one texture.

For example, spend an entire day ONLY shooting wood. Or only shooting shiny things. Or only rusted things.

2. Shoot colorful things

Blue net. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Blue net. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

This is easy, just find nice colors and shoot them.

I personally love the VSCO A6 preset, which gives the photos a nice, warm tone, similar to Kodak Portra 400.

Gold color. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Gold color. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

3. Honor thy selfie

Find a simple black background, and shoot selfies of yourself from different angles. Hold your phone very high looking down, or very low shooting up.

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Or shoot your own shadow or reflection. I like to shoot when the sun is setting, during sunset to get nice and long shadows.

Shadow selfie at sunset. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Shadow selfie at sunset. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

4. Find an interesting background, and wait for people to enter (FISHING TECHNIQUE)

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Find a simple background, with lines, and simple shapes. Then shoot a lot of photos, and choose your favorite images.

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They call this the “FISHING TECHNIQUE”, because you are like a fisherman… you gotta be patient to catch the fish or “the Decisive moment”.

5. Diagonal lines from the top right and top left of your frame.

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If you see lines, tilt your camera until you can make a composition in which the edges of the frame correspond with the diagonals in your photo.

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Diagonals are more dynamic, and add structure to your frame.

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6. Look up.

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Children see the world from a more unique perspective than adults, because they are always looking up.

Now with our phones, we never look down or up… we just have a crooked neck and look down into our phones.

Use your phone to look at the world differently. Look up more often, especially if you shoot in a city. Or in nature.

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The benefit of looking up, you can see and appreciate buildings and infrastructures we often take for granted.

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7. Create depth

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Make depth in your photos by putting something in the extreme foreground, then focus on the background.

In the foreground of your photo, add a railing, or visual element to block out the bottom of the frame. This will add more of an illusion of depth to your photos.

8. Don’t think before shooting

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For me, whenever I think too much before making a photo, I become nervous and self-conscious and end up not shooting.

In street photography, follow your gut. Don’t think before shooting. Just click.

9. Use the same preset on all your photos

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Whatever preset you use for your photos, keep it consistent. I recommend VSCO A6 for color.

Keeping your preset consistent will help you build a visual style, and also be less stressful and time-consuming.

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10. Airplane mode

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Don’t shoot with your data or phone on. Switch it to airplane mode, not to get distracted.

You want to get into THE ZONE when making pictures. Don’t let anyone disrupt you.

I also recommend NOT listening to music while shooting photos. Why? You might overlook a potentially good photo scene, by being able to eavesdrop on the conversation of others. I also think NOT listening to music while shooting helps us direct more creative energy to our visual cortex and eyes.

Conclusion: Have fun and don’t take it too seriously.

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Think of photography and art as playing, not trying to be some pretentious “Artist” (with a capital “A”).

Even if you have a shitty phone you can still make good photos. Just follow some of these tips, and they might help you.

What are some of your phone photography tips or techniques? Share your ideas and pictures in ERIC KIM FORUM.

BE STRONG,
ERIC


PHONE PHOTOGRAPHY

Garden Grove, 2015. Shot on a LG G4
Garden Grove, 2015. Shot on a LG G4

The best camera is a phone:

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