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.
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.
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):
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
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.
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.
Or shoot your own shadow or reflection. I like to shoot when the sun is setting, during sunset to get nice and long shadows.
4. Find an interesting background, and wait for people to enter (FISHING TECHNIQUE)
Find a simple background, with lines, and simple shapes. Then shoot a lot of photos, and choose your favorite images.
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.
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.
Diagonals are more dynamic, and add structure to your frame.
6. Look up.
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.
The benefit of looking up, you can see and appreciate buildings and infrastructures we often take for granted.
7. Create depth
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
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
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.
10. Airplane mode
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.
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.
The best camera is a phone:
- Universal Basic Photography
- Portfolio: Phone Photography by ERIC KIM
- Why You Should Subscribe to VSCO X Paid Service
- Phone Street Photography Tips
- How to take Better Photos on Your Phone
- Is iPhone a real camera?
- The Holy Grail of Photography
- 10 Reasons Why Your Smartphone is the Best Camera
- The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to iPhone/Smartphone Photography
- 7 Benefits of Shooting Street Photography With a Smartphone
- What if Smartphones Had The Same Image Quality as DSLR’s?
- My Experience Shooting Street Photography With A Smartphone vs Medium-Format
- Why the 4’’ iPhone SE Will Revolutionize Photography
- In Street Photography, The Smaller the Camera, the Better
- 10 New Tips How to Master Shooting Street Photography With the iPhone
- 3 Reasons Why You Should Use the iPhone 5 For Street Photography by Mike Avina
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- May 1-2nd, 2021: CHICAGO / Street Photography Composition Masterclass [Register Intent Here]
- May 22-22nd, 2021: NEW YORK CITY / STREET PHOTOGRAPHY MASTERCLASS by ERIC KIM [Register Intent Here]
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