Phoneography – How To Take Great Shots With Your Phone

Phoneography is the act of creating photos with your camera phone, instead of a regular camera. (iPhoneography is its branch and is the act of creating photos with an iPhone, obviously 🙂 )

I remember how things were like 10 years ago. I was an active member on deviantART, and sometimes some silly newbie would upload a phone photo into the Photography section… Man, it was not pretty. It was painful to see. Phone photos were crappy because the phone cameras were crappy (this doesn’t mean the camera makes you a great photographer, but it helps). But not anymore. Now you can make art with your phone. You can take quality photos and edit them right away. It’s fast, it’s fun.

But like I said, a great camera doesn’t make you a great photographer. The social media is still full of crappy, low-quality, filter-abused pictures. In this tutorial I am going to give some general advice on how to take really good, eye-candy photos. In the upcoming tutorials I am going to talk about composition and editing.

You can find a lot of lists such as this one, but this list is mine and everything here is based on my own experience.

1. Turn off the flash. Use natural light

Disable the darn thing, it’s your enemy, not your friend. Are you in the movie theater with your friends, waiting for the new awesome movie to begin and wanna take a selfie to show the world? Well, don’t. 😀

2. Keep the phone still when you shoot

Remember to always, always keep the phone still when you press the button to take the shot. You know, to avoid blurry shots. Even after you took the photo, open it and zoom it to its full size, to see if it’s not blurred or too soft. If it’s not good, delete it. I know, I know it’s hard. I’ve been there. But it’s for the best. You’ll get used to it. Quality over quantity should become your new quote. 😉 Also, keep clean your phone camera too – phones are one the dirtiest things so you should clean it every day. With disinfectant.

3. Learn about photography composition rules

I did a lot of reading in my early days as a hobbyist photographer and I still do. I taught myself everything I needed to know about photography. After years of experience though, I’ve come to realise that the Rule of Thirds and other photography composition rules are mere guidelines, as a perfect photograph (technically speaking) may be empty and not send any emotion to the viewer. I will get back to this in an upcoming tutorial.

4. Use negative space

The negative space is the space around the subject of an image. If the space behind and around your subject is crowded, the photo will look really bad, like a cheap, ordinary snapshot.

On the other hand, modern phones have the depth effect option that blurres the background, creating a professional looking effect (the Portrait option in iPhones. Newest Samsung cameras have this option too). This was something only DSLR cameras could achieve. Here’s an example of a photo taken without and with the depth effect. Huge difference.

5. Use external lenses

I bought a set of cheap, universal phone lenses set because they were out of the quality ones, made especially for iPhones. The fish-eye lens was useless, but luckily, I got really great results with the macro lens. So, if you buy additional lenses, I suggest you get original ones. They are a lot more expensive but they are quality and worth it.

6. Experiment with compositing

A composite image is a picture that is made from the combination of two or more images. For this kind of editing I upload the photos in my Mac and use Photoshop, but I saw that some apps allow you to create composites. I never tried any so I can’t say for sure if they’re good.

7. Edit wisely

Think of editing as make-up for photos. You want to keep things natural and fresh, so don’t abuse those filters. I will focus on editing phone photos in an upcoming tutorial.

8. Practice

Because practice makes perfect. If you are really into photography, then invest some time in it. I usually photograph something from different angles and perspectives and then keep only the photos that I like best (wich are 1, 2 or 3 tops).

In photography you need the skills but you also need the eye. You need to be able to see something, not just look at it. You have your phone with you at all times (I can bet on that 😁) so use it to capture that perfect sunset or an unexpected moment in your life, wich will take you back to it every time you look at the photo. And that is why I love photography so much. ❤

8. Do it for your soul, not for the likes

Being famous on Instagram is like being rich in Monopoly. It’s nice to get likes, but it should not be the thing that drives you.