Outstanding photos with your phone

How to take outstanding photos with your phone

5 essential basics

1. Light

You don’t have to be professional photographer to know that light is what actually makes the picture. Too dark- and you will see nothing, too much light- same result. Find the right balance is a “must” when we talk about good photos. A tip- it’s always better to have more illumination then less, especially if you want to show vivid colours and fine details. Beaming sunshine makes pictures pale, bleached and I don’t even want to start on those ugly shadows, therefore I would not recommend noon time for your shooting. Early morning and pre-sunset hours, contrariwise are great. It’s important to know however, that the closer to the sunset the lower quality your photo will be- grains can become a real problem and gray tones make photo less attractive for the audience. So if you want to enjoy beautiful results I suggest you be careful during the twilight hours unless you are going to use the snapshot for your Instagram profile picture only, those are so small no one will see any flaws there!

2. Composition

Building the right photo composition is something you will have to practice a little bit. Here are the most important details:

a) objects should be in the frame completely, if you have to cut off something be mindful and think aesthetically, ask yourself “how will it look for those who haven’t seen the whole view I’m looking at right now ?” Always remember that when you take pictures people actually look at the world though your eyes. Think carefully about what you are showing them.

b) if you need to and can move objects- do it! Don’t be shy and arrange everything the way you want it (preliminarily make sure it won’t bother people of course). As the photographer you are allowed to be playful, loud and creative! In fact, if you really want your pictures to be successful you should forget about timidity and hesitation – you are the artist, the world is your canvas- go and create something beautiful!

c) keep the skyline in mind! It happens often when people are too excited taking pictures they forget to watch the horizon – as a result the photo looks wry and sometimes there’s no way to fix it even if you are a Photoshop pro.

d) when you have people in front of the camera stay focused not to crop someone’s leg, arm or even worse – part of the head. Don’t forget that people are alive and therefore moving, so you should be attentive to keep them constantly inside the frame.

e) take your time and make as many shots as you need to get the best one. If you are not satisfied- try again, rearrange the objects, change the angle. Still not happy ? Maybe wait for few minutes! When you shoot outside a few minutes can make a big difference- sunshine, clouds, light reflections are important influencers here.

3. Colours

Vivid, colourful pictures always look “tasty” and attractive. Light photography is more popular than dark (exception: night city shots) It’s basic psychological – people subconsciously gravitate to something bright and easy, they want light, love and joy in their life. Therefore your cheerful, lucid pictures will get more “likes” then those with dark filters or gray tones. One should not forget that human eye sees colours differently than any, even the best camera. Photos will always be paler than reality, so adding saturation, light and contrast is a must if you want to show the composition as realistic as possible. For the same reason you will have to fix colour balance as well. Also you can add a hint of extra vibrance just like the chef adding a cherry on the top of the pie! Always a good idea.

4. Focus and Quality

Unfortunately if the picture is bad quality there’s nothing you can really do. Low quality will subconsciously give people the idea that you are just reposting photos of someone else. How many Instagram accounts post stolen photos today? Millions! And how can we see those pictures that don’t belong to them ? First of all the blurry quality. Of course as they are screenshots! If you don’t want your social account to look fake- good quality of the pictures is essential! First of all – do always clean your camera lens before taking a shot, especially if it’s a phone camera. Fingerprints we usually leave on that one can screw up even most amazing shots. Just wipe your lens with fabric next to you or on you. Any soft, non synthetic fabric will do. Second of all – please do remember about focus. Sometimes you can take 10 great shots and leave the place before you see the photos on the laptop and realize they are not focused. Good if you have a chance to come back and retake them next day, but it’s rare. So keep focus in mind to avoid disappointments. Sometimes you have situation when the background is just as beautiful as the foreground and has a lot of details you’d like to show, but your phone doesn’t give you an option to focus on both objects. In this case I advice to take several shots. They should be as similar as possible, from the exactly same position, but… with different focus! Later you can choose two of them – first one with the focus on foreground and second on the background. By using any good editing program, like Photoshop you can blend them into one picture and voilà the problem is solved.

5. Editing

Post production is what makes the difference between amateur and professional photos. The higher level of skills the editor possesses the more natural yet outstanding the photo looks. Rookie mistakes will be too much of Photoshop. The picture should stay native and real. At the same time it should be a big difference between it’s actual colours, tones and contrast for the reasons I named in part “3. Colours”. Also a professional editor will add some sharpness and boldness to the picture and remove minor flaws that can disturb the eye esthetically. There is a fine line between removing minor flaws like for example dirty stain or a small piece of garbage and changing the composition by cleaning up anything what is not 100% perfect. Have you seen those shots when models look like they have artificial skin, awkward unnatural eyes and disproportionate big lips/ small nose etc ? It does makes you stare at the photo, but not in a good way. No one will actually think it’s beautiful. The same can happen to any other subject you are shooting if you over edit it. It’s better to have some rest and later come back to work on your masterpiece, so you will see it with a fresh eye which will spare you a lot of mistakes and please do not try to make your picture perfect, you will not succeed but only drive yourself crazy. Why? Because after a week you will find new things to edit on the same photo, couple weeks more same situation and even a year after you will want to fix something on it! Always it will be so!

That’s why I say- do the best you can and don’t bother much! After all we have a real life outside our phones and cameras and it would be such a shame to waste it trying to make something perfect in our perfectly imperfect world!

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