10 Tips for Mobile Photography

 I recently had a conversation with a friend about mobile photography the other day.  She was really adamant that "mobile photographers" are getting somewhat annoying.  

"I can't seem to get just a straight forward answer these days when talking to someone about taking pictures with my phone.  It's always some long drawn out answer that makes no sense or if it does, I lose interest because I just get so annoyed."  

"Why can't you just give me the straight answer and help me become a better picture taker? I don't need the big words and technical mumbo jumbo that you just learned."

I high-five'd her and then proceeded to go to my class.  I asked my class if what I had been teaching them was too hoity toity.  They assured me that my presentation was down to earth and fun.  

So with that, I'm going to give you my tips that I give my mobile photography class sans any "hoity toity mumbo jumbo."

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It's All About the Light

Yiu Yu Hoi/Getty Images

It's true.  It's all about the light.

That's what will help make a good image a great image.  Check out the shadows that the sun makes on subjects.  Notice the reflective light off buildings. Practice during the "golden hour." See how the light from a window falls inside a room.

The smart phone is not the greatest in low light situations.  Remember that.  Best to capitalize on when your device functions best under what lighting conditions.

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Zoom With Your Feet

Taken with an Iphone 4. Brad Puet

Please do not ever use the zoom on your smart phone. - Sincerely, Your Friend

I think this is the first step towards taking a bad smartphone picture. If you want to zoom in on something, use your legs and move!

There is technical mumbo jumbo but to be honest all you need to know is that the zoom on these things are no bueno!

Taken with an iPhone 4. Brad Puet

Camera shake when taking pictures is very overlooked even on the big cameras.  The key to fixing this is to practice how you hold your phone (hold it horizontal at all times instead of vertical - it gives you a wider frame), knowing what you will use for your shutter (either the button assigned, a software shutter button, using a tripod and timer, or using the volume on your headphones). The idea is to get you to a place where you take clear images with no camera shake.  You'll be happy with the result.

Also try burst mode when taking pictures of moving objects.  Then you can select the best photo from the bunch. More »

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It's All About the Angles, Man (and Woman)

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020. Brad Puet

Change your perspective on things.  I recently had a student who had a friend tell her that changing angles on a shot is not the best practice for getting a great shot.

I beg to differ.  I think changing your angles, your perspective not only gets you a better shot, it also shows how you "see" it.

So get down on the ground, get up on a high vantage point, change your point of view. Try as many different angles on your subject as possible.

Taken with an iPhone 4. Brad Puet

Mobile photography is awesome because of the 1000's of apps that are dedicated to the camera on smart phones.  Find your favorite ones and you can take your already awesome image onto the next level. More »

Taken with an iPhone 4. Brad Puet

It's a simple rule of thumb.  Clean your glass.  Much like when you have a dirty windshield, cleaning it can give you sharper images. 

A shot with a clean lens is going to be better than a shot with your greasy thumb print. More »

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Quality AND Quantity

Taken with an iPhone 4. Brad Puet

Snap away at anything and everything that suits your fancy.  The important thing here is that the more you shoot, the more you get comfortable, the more you will determine what direction you'd like to take your mobile photography.

The only thing that holds you back is how much space is on your phone and battery life.

Taken with an iPhone 4. Brad Puet

Now let me clarify.  Please don't use your flash on your phone. - Sincerly, Your Friend

Well that is if you care about the quality of your photo.  No guilt trip intended. 

If you played around and used the natural light around you, you will never need to use your flash.  If you want to brighten things up, you can use this. More »

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020. Brad Puet

Mirrors, glasses, puddles and bodies of water, smooth and shiny surfaces...all make for awesome reflections.  It's just fun, try it out.  More »

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Have Fun

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020. Brad Puet

This is the last and really the only rule that you should stick to.  If you don't listen to anything I've give you here, "Have Fun" is the one that you have to promise me you will use when getting into mobile photography.

Join in photowalks held by other photographers and communities in your area.  It's always fun when you do it with others who are learning and enjoying the art.

Word Up! My Final Word.

So hopefully this article helps you instead of gets you fired up and quit before you start. It's simple ways that I've learned to be able to get into mobile photography and continue to like it.