Your best camera is the one that is always with you. For most of us, and when it comes to smartphone photography, that means our smartphone. It is small enough to fit in your pocket and lightweight enough it won’t break your back.
Smartphones have advanced to the point where stunning images are just a few screen taps away.
Smartphone photography or iphoneography is used for snapping those precious moments. We use it to capture the world around us.
From friends and family, to landscapes, to travel, not to mention all the food we eat – nothing is safe from the quick snap of a smartphone camera.
Just look at the millions of images on Instagram and Facebook.
Smartphone photography is a great way to capture the world around you, from candid images to carefully planned shots.
Browse through our complete guide, then read it in depth, and we’ll equip you with all you need to know to take advantage of the camera you’re always carrying around.
There are two different types of cellphone, Android and iOS. iPhone is the only company that uses iOS, whereas there are many smartphone manufacturers that use the Android operating system.
Both of these smartphones share some similarities and some differences.
One thing that sets iPhone apart are the numerous accessories you can buy and use with the iPhone. The Android side of the family lacks in this department.
On the flip side, Androids’ technology is rapidly evolving, as it needs to compete with the Apple giant.
One instance is Huawei partnering with Leica, where Leica makes the cameras for the Huawei smartphone.
There are instances where the camera might matter and other circumstances where you would never tell the difference. It will always be better to have a camera rather than none.
Many people, unless they’re seasoned photographers or avid camera-carriers, might not want to take their 1.7kg DSLR and lens with them all the time. Your phone sits in your pocket at an unnoticeable 140g.
One situation where the size of the image will not matter is having to reduce the size of the images for the web.
Using Facebook, a blog post or dedicated website photo, your images will likely be around 700px. This is where your 22MP DSLR, 16MP Mirrorless or 12MP phone images all become reduced to the same size.
Read here for more information whether your camera really matters (spoiler -It doesn’t!)
Smartphones are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you will ever own. Apart from making calls (It makes calls?!), it is your way to the World Wide Web on the move.
It can store all of your photographs, you can use it to write things down and now, can store your location. Geotagging is also very handy when it comes to your photography.
As an avid photographer, you will need to scout locations. Or you might come across an area without your camera. Especially useful if abroad, geotagging will allow you to save your exact location.
It was only a matter of time before smartphone cameras replaced the daily use of other cameras, such as DSLRs. Who wants to carry around all that junk when you have a perfectly good camera in your pocket?
One problem with this is, while the ergonomics of cameras has been developed specifically to be held by your hands, smartphones haven’t. They are thin bricks of glass, metal and plastic.
The Hasselblad True Zoom joined with the Moto Z and came up with a solution for this shortcoming. A point and shoot camera that sticks to a smartphone. Reading is believing, so start believing here.
Smartphone Phone Gear
When it comes to your smartphone camera, you are limited in your perspective. In the days where iphoneography was a new thing, you had to zoom using your feet.
Nowadays, there are some wonderful (and weird) lenses that will help you capture stunning images. Macro, wide-angle and telephoto lenses are available, but so are adapters for DSLR lenses.
These are great when moving isn’t an option. Read here for the best 5 lenses money can buy.
Everyone needs to have a cellphone case. Why on earth would you spend hundreds of dollars on a fragile phone, made from glass, and not protect it?
If you are photographing using your cellphone, why not get a case specifically designed for smartphone photography.
Have a look at the case made by moment. They are premiere lens makers, and this case incorporates their lens right into it. It has a better grip than the phone, and even comes with a wrist strap.
Everyone has the same iPhone or Android as they only come in limited colours. Personalisation comes through the choice of case and the glorious aesthetic of broken screens. No two are the same.
There are other accessories that will help your smartphone photography immensely. One of these is a steadicam for your cellphone.
One of the biggest problems with using your cellphone to photograph is unwanted movement or blurriness. The steadicam ensures it is stabilised giving you sharper, clear images.
Read here for more ideas on accessories to benefit you and your smartphone photography.
Another way to keep your cell phone still while photographing is by using a tripod. A tripod keeps your cellphone stuck to the object it is placed on.
You will need to keep your camera as still as possible for time-lapses, long exposures or photographing anything in low light conditions. This tripod is as small and lightweight as your smartphone.
Coming at you in the size and shape of a credit card, this tripod is unnoticeable. You might even forget you have it. Read all about it here, in our article.
Sometimes, using your smartphone to take pictures is obvious. It can lead to people screaming and running away as if Godzilla was in town.
But there is a way around this.
Investing in a trigger trap can mean you can capture that candid image every time. It is a cable release for cellphones, allowing you to click the shutter from anywhere, even your pocket.
This will make it look as if you are skyping a friend, or trying to get signal. The general public will be none the wiser. Read our article for the multitude of uses this gadget has.
How To Start
Everyone and their mother has a smartphone. This doesn’t mean that each one of us can take a stunning photograph by simply raising the camera and pressing the shutter.
Taking photographs is very easy once you have a grasp on focus, exposure, composition and image editing.
The first tip to ensure great smartphone captures is to clean the lens. This is very easily overlooked until you look at your images later that day and notice the blurs and smudges.
Be wary of rain, as the water droplets cause blurry images and are very difficult to fix.
If you are just starting to focus on your smartphone photography, it might be helpful to emphasize upon a genre. This will give you a focus on what to photograph. One area might be capturing portraits using your smartphone.
One tip for capturing stunning portraits with your smartphone is by using a soft light rather than a harsh one. Use this light to correctly expose the photograph based on the skin tone.
There are many more genres and tips in our article which you can read here.
Light trails are a great way to create an interesting night time smartphone photography image. These lights act as leading lines, bringing your eyes into the image. They are fun to make and easy to create.
The idea is that you stabilise your camera and capture a long exposure of a busy street. The passing cars will illuminate the scene, adding this red and white path of light.
An image showing light trails brings in the idea of movement in a still image. It adds depth and helps to turn a dull image into something with a little more interest. Read here on how to create one.
Lens flare is one of those things that really ruin a photograph. During the golden hour, when the sun is at its lowest is when you are the most susceptible to this bright light.
Even if the sun isn’t in your image, the angle can still hit the glass of your lens and bounce around inside. This is one of those faults that you might notice afterwards, not immediately.
But lens flare can lead to creative artsy pictures. If used in the right way. Many image styles can really benefit from having the sun blasted at you and your cellphone.
To know what they are, and use them immediately, you must read our article here.
One big area that you can use your cellphone for is macro photography. This is the style of getting really close to an image and creating a larger than 1:1 ratio of a subject.
Effectively, you make tiny subjects and objects much larger than they would be. These could be the details of everyday items, singled out and enlarged to create an interesting, abstract image.
For this, you will need to look at a lens or two. Other than that, it all comes down to your creativity. Read more about macro smartphone photography here.
Another great style to use your cellphone photography for is in creating polar globes. These are also called tiny planets and are the act of turning an image or panorama into a little world.
This style is achieved by wrapping your image around so that the left side joins the rightside for a continuous shot. A panorama gives you more room to play with the image.
A free cellphone app called Photosynth is needed to create this (only for iPhones), but once you have it, you are free to play. The world is your oyster.
As you find yourself turning more and more to your phone, you will benefit from a few tips. The good thing about using your phone is that it gets you moving.
Do not use your digital zoom, but get closer or further away physically. This will help you frame better and get used to the distances of your subjects.
No matter where you are, and what your focus, try an aim for a single idea or concept. It is common practice to layer compositions and subjects, start simply until you get a real feel for it.
Read the entire guide here and start improving.
Keeping your phone steady can be a pain. Windy conditions or photographing from any form of transport makes it challenging and frustrating.
A tripod can work perfectly, but a normal sized one would be too bulky for your small device. A smaller version is possible (see above) but it also has its limit on perspective.
The small sensor of the iPhone is the reason why shake is emphasized more using its camera. In low light situations, it is also important to keep your captures as steady as possible.
Our article gives you all the information and tips on how to keep your smartphone, and images, as still as possible.
If you feel that your smartphone images are not as good as they could be, you might be making one of these simple mistakes. Using people in your photography can help to eliminate one common mistake.
You might find that adding people to an image that has no focal point can add depth. This is where your patience is necessary, as you may have to wait for the person to enter your shot.
Another common mistake is missing that focus on your subject. Your smartphone is intuitive and might pick the wrong area to focus on. Read here on how to change it easily.
The rule of thirds is an integral compositional tool that can help to create interest in your images. The concept is that the subject should not just sit in the middle of the frame, but towards the corners of the frame.
Imagine the viewfinder or LCD screen as having two lines that split up the image vertically, and two horizontally. There are four points where the lines intersect.
This is where you should aim to place the most important area of the image. The viewer will focus on this as it is more pleasing.
Don’t be afraid of layering other forms of composition to lead their eyes to these areas. Read here on how to execute this effectively.
Lines are a great way to help compose your images to give them that extra wow factor. Lines can draw your eye to a subject, or take it away, out of the frame.
They can also give a sense of direction, which in itself is movement in a still image and interesting.These lines are everywhere.
If you stand under a very tall building looking up, all the lines will converge and your eyes will follow them to the top.
A long street, handrail, or zebra crossing are all examples of what can be found – you just have to keep your eyes open and look for them.
This article gives great tips on what to look for and how they dramatize your image.
The colours in your images are an important area to consider for your smartphone photography. They can make subjects and areas in your photograph complimentary or independent of each other.
If the colours are correlative to each other, it helps keep the same tone and mood of the image. Juxtaposition comes from colours that contrast and cause conflict.
Both of these styles can help to add interest in your smartphone photography. Check our article here for all the information you need about colour concepts.
Backing-up your images is very important. It ensures there is a copy of your images somewhere else in case anything happens to your cellphone.
Modern cellphones are somewhat fragile, and not adverse to water, so it is always best to be safe. To save your images, there are many options.
The Cloud service is the common one for iOS users, and 5 GB is automatically allocated to you through your iTunes registration. Google drive is available through their relevant application.
The best and cheapest way can be seen in our article here.
Apps are what turns your cellphone into a smartphone. Without apps, you can make calls, check your calendar and have a basic use of your pocket wizard.
Through apps, you can do almost anything on your phone. Some are free, but usually, force you to deal with adverts until you pay and the rest you need to pay for.
One of our recommendations is the Magic Shutter App as it lets you work with long exposures. See our article here for the other 9 apps.
There are a plethora of smartphone applications out there dedicated to image editing. Many of them have the same task in mind, managing your exposure levels and contrast.
Layrs is a different application as it uses a very special algorithm. Here, you can differentiate between the foreground and the background.
Using this idea, you can ‘paint in’ or extract areas of your image. Great for creating layers through the use of masks, to create interesting composites.
Read more here about how this can help you take your smartphone photography to the next level.
There are specific cellphone applications to help your landscape photography. Firstly, you should know landscapes are created way before taking any photographs.
A successful landscape capture happens because of the research and planning beforehand. One of the best apps for planning is The Photographer’s Ephemeris.
This clever app shows you the placement of the sun and moon in relation to the area you want to photograph. This is great for landscapes doused in light during the golden hour.
Your cellphone has many tasks, not only for taking calls and sending text messages. One of its clever uses is to make a note of a specific location that you have photographed or wish to return to.
This is made possible by something called geotagging. A quick download of an app lets your phone know where you are through GPS (Global Positioning System).
As you photograph a subject, the location is noted in your EXIF (Exchangeable image file format) data. Read here on what app to use and how the information can benefit you.
If you are new to smartphone photography and have just opened an Instagram account, this article is for you. You can really benefit from tips and tricks to get you started on this social media platform.
Instagram has over 400 million users, so you can understand that 52 Million images posted a day happens very often. So how do you stand out?
One of the first points is to only post your best images. It is tempting to share everything you photograph, but you need to cull much of your work. Sharing one image will always be more powerful.
The other ten tips to get a feel for Instagram can be found in our article here.
Instagram is a social media application for image sharing, but it has other uses. You can use it to edit your images too. Instagram has 19 different filters you can apply, and each of those can be tweaked.
You can also use it for cropping to the more acceptable square format the platform utilises. You can change the focal area, exposure and many other adjustments.
Then, use filters to create the mood and feeling that you want. This is a very basic idea of everything you can use Instagram for better editing. This article shows you more indepth information.
Lisa Jo Rudy
A hyper-lapse is a video created from many photographs taken in succession. What makes this different to a time-lapse is that you move as you capture the images.
You are free to pan, tilt or physically walk while you keep photographing. When these images are put together, they create a really interesting feel that you cant replicate from a standard video.
This style is available on Instagram, so no other app is needed. Read our article on how to create them so you can give it a try today.
Instagram is all about getting noticed. Many of the people who use this service really focus on the number of followers.
Personally, I feel that the level of engagement with your images is more important than the number of followers. A high number offers you nothing (unless you have over 10,000).
Comments have the potential to give you important feedback that will affect your confidence and your style. Tips on how to get noticed can be found in our article here.
Your smartphone photography will definitely benefit from a workflow. This keeps the organisation, planning and editing of your images consistent.
This is a good way to manage and process your images if you are out on the road and far from your laptop. Depending on where your images will end up will dictate the programs or applications you will use.
If your images will have more of an impact being shared sooner than later, Instagram is a great tool for editing and sharing. For the other possibilities, read more here.
HDR or High Dynamic Range is a way of creating a stunning image from a subject with difficult lighting. By image stacking, you help to bring out the details from the highlights and shadowy areas.
Smartphones already have this tool embedded into the in-phone camera app, so no downloading is necessary. This process is a great way to show off landscapes, portraits and low-light scenes.
Read our article here on what to look for in creating these HDR images.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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