With easy access to a good camera through your smartphone, it sounds pretty simple to pick photography up as a hobby. However, there are some common mistakes that you should avoid in order to take better photos with your device. Listed below are a few tips on what mistakes to avoid when deciding to improve your phone photography skills:
1. Image Subject
The subject of a photo is arguably the most important thing about it. Instead of capturing a photo of just anything or anyone at all, have a clear idea of what or who is meant to be the subject of that image. Next, make sure the subject of the photo stands out from other people and things in the background. You can do this by making sure they don’t blend into the background but also that nothing else in the background overpowers the subject. Keep in mind, this is different from abstract photography where not having a subject stand out is an intentional practice.
2. Zoom Quality
Often it seems simpler to use the zoom option on your camera app to bring your subject closer, however this will significantly reduce the quality of the photo by making it grainy. This happens because smartphones don’t have optical zoom like larger cameras do, and instead perform a crop on the frame to zoom in on the subject. This only results in a lower quality image. To work around this issue, it’s better to either move closer to your subject or to invest in an external lens that can be attached onto your smartphone.
3. Overdone Backgrounds
Since all smartphones can’t seamlessly blur a background to focus solely on the subject, a busy background might take the attention away. You can attempt to blur out the background on an editing app, but it will most likely not give you that ideal look a larger camera will. You can counter this by shooting your subject against clean backgrounds as simple as a wall or the sky allowing them to be the sole focus of the photo.
4. Photo Focus
You’re more likely to end up with blurry photos using your smartphone for multiple reasons. Check if your camera lens is clean firstly. Next, make sure that your subject is staying still especially if you’re taking a photo in low lighting. This is because in low light settings, the shutter speed of the camera is slower making it more sensitive to any movement. A simple fix for this is to use a tripod to avoid blurry images because of shaky hands.
5. Excessive Editing
With the large number of editing apps now available to use on smartphones, it’s very easy to go overboard with filter on your photos. However, photos that have been edited excessively aren’t appealing to look at. Some editing apps will also reduce the quality of the photo while applying the filters. VSCO and Adobe Lightroom are some apps which are great for making minimal edits to your photo while maintain the original image quality and authenticity.
6. Bad Lighting
Unlike larger cameras, smartphone cameras don’t have light sensors that are large enough to capture high quality images in lower lighting. Therefore, it is best to capture photos from your device outdoors during the day. Taking a photo in low lighting can result in a grainy image. If you have to capture a photo in low light with your device, try to find an alternate source of lighting. This can be from a car’s headlight, a lamppost or even using the flashlight on another phone.
7. Flash Photography
While we’re on the topic of lighting, it’s important to address how flash photography on a phone is probably not the best idea when trying to take a good photo. The camera flash on your phone cannot be adjusted in terms of brightness or moved around. Therefore, subjects closer to the camera come out overexposed while the background is dark. You will also most likely face the issue of red eyes. As mentioned before, it’s best to find alternate light sources or invest in a wireless camera flash to take photos in low light.
8. Camera Settings
Often when doing phone photography, we never fully experience all the features the device’s camera has to offer. This is because most people shoot on auto mode. With the great technological advancements on the smartphone’s camera, it is possible to take amazing pictures even on auto mode. However, shooting in manual/pro mode is where the true benefits are. You are able to control each individual parameter to capture the perfect image. Admittedly it does take some time to understand how to adjust each setting individually but is totally worth it when you capture the perfect image!
9. Photo Composition
The best photos tell stories and to be able to do that, they need to have good composition. It is common for beginners to not take into account the composition of a photo and in turn become frustrated when the end result isn’t great. One way to ensure your photo has good composition is to place your subject in the center of the photo. There are many other concepts regarding composition that you can read up on!
At the end of the day, practice is truly what will help you improve your phone photography skill. You will gain a better understanding of lighting, camera settings, composition and editing as you progress through your journey. It’s easy to become disheartened if you can’t take a good photo in the initial attempts, but it is important to remember that even the most skilled photographers have spent a significant amount of time honing their skill.
Most mistakes while doing phone photography are minor and require easy fixes that result in significantly better-quality photos. When you truly understand how to use the smartphone camera, you’ll be taking amazing photos in no time. We all make mistakes, but there are opportunities to fix them and capture better.