Treat your phone like a pencil; take fun, and quick visual sketches of whatever you see, constantly workout your visual muscles!
Henri Cartier-Bresson once called the camera a sketchbook. I think Henri Cartier-Bresson always wanted to be a painter or drawer, so after about 30 years of photography he gave it up, and retired to only doing drawings and sketches.
So in other words, I don’t think Henri Cartier-Bresson truly saw photography as a legitimate art form in itself. He saw photography as an aid to drawing and painting, but not the ultimate thing.
Anyways, I think we’re in an interesting time in photography history. We got cameras on everything; our phones, stand-alone digital cameras, our cars, our doorbells, on our watches, on our refrigerators, and soon perhaps even on our cereal boxes!
I see photography as art. But this is the tricky thing we face as photographers: we still don’t see the phone camera as a legitimate camera. And most people don’t take photos taken on a phone as art. But I think it is!
Nowadays there is a snobby bias in the art world: film photos are more “legitimate” when compared to digital photos.
And even moreso, phone photos aren’t as “legitimate” as full frame digital cameras.
I say fuck all that pretentiousness. Your phone is as legitimate as any other art-creation instrument.
At this point, phone camera image quality isn’t as good as other digital cameras (micro 43rd, aps-c, full frame, digital medium format). Yet, we can still make beautiful photos with a phone!
Shoot with whatever camera is most convenient for you. Painters always sketched and had sketchbooks for themselves before they painted. Often I find their sketches in pencil or pen as good (or sometimes even more interesting) than the final painting! Treat your phone the same. Your phone is a legitimate camera and artistic tool.
Disregard image quality and just shoot it!
How to shoot better photos on your phone
The phone is the ultimate camera: you can shoot with your phone, you can select (edit) your photos, you can process your photos (add presets, filters), and instantly share and process your photos! Whoever says that the phone isn’t a “real” camera; ignore them.
1. Don’t hesitate
If you see a scene or a moment where you even think 1% might be a good photo, JUST SHOOT IT!
With Google Photos, you have unlimited and free backups. Therefore, my suggestion is to shoot as many photos as you desire, before you get 1 photo you like.
With a phone, you can take 100 photos of the same scene, then just share your 1 favorite photo!
2. Simple colors
Look for colors, shapes, and forms which are nice to your eyes.
For nice colors, I recommend using the “n1” (new modern) preset IN VSCO.
Simple is better.
3. Diagonal composition
Shoot more dynamic compositions on your phone by tilting your camera. Do this when shooting architecture, people, or anything!
4. Clean background
When you photograph things, make sure the background is simple. If you can make photos with no distractions in the background, you’re more likely to make a better photo!
5. Look up!
Bend your back (yoga style), and look straight up to get a more unique perspective of the world!
Another tip: when shooting buildings or architecture or power lines, avoid overlap. Add a little negative space between all the elements in your frame.
6. Fill the frame
Whatever you find interesting, fill the frame! This means look at the edges of your frame, and make sure they are full of whatever you find interesting.
7. Don’t zoom
Also another tip: don’t zoom. This will encourage you to innovate more with your compositions.
Of course if you want to zoom, my suggestion: Seek to simplify the scene.
8. Abstract photos
Use your phone to photograph shapes, forms, textures, or anything else which catches your eye.
9. Shoot from a low angle/perspective
To get more engaging compositions, crouch down, and shoot looking up!
Another tip: take photos on your phone upside down! By putting your phone upside down, you can put your lens closer to the ground.
10. Lower your exposure
Lower the brightness/exposure of scenes, especially when it is “golden hour” (sunrise and sunset). This will enhance the colors and tones of your photo!
11. Treat photography as Zen meditation
Don’t expect to make good photos when you go out. Just go out, enjoy the walk, and clear your mind.
12. Use VSCO to process your photos
For color I recommend the a6 (aesthetic) and n1 (new modern) presets:
13. Have fun
Simple concept: don’t take photography too seriously. Have fun! Shoot like a child, and smile :)
The best camera is a phone:
- Review of the iPad Pro 10.5 Inch Camera for Photography
- Why Computational Photography is so Revolutionary
- The Zen of Phone Photography
- How to Take Better Pictures on Your 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