WHEN IN DOUBT – BE ABLE TO TAKE GOOD PHOTOS ON YOUR PHONE.
Photos can sometimes tell a story better than words can, especially in today’s social media culture. Yes, our last blog post was about hiring professional photographers for branding, and we still stand by that. However, if your brand relies heavily on social posts and will spend a lot of time using social media on a daily basis, your budget could quickly run out using a professional photographer. If your budget is limited or you use social media daily, you’re going to want to learn how to take great photos on your phone. These tips are typically for regular manual cameras, but the tips can also be applied to mobile phone cameras. Here are some of our tips.
Natural light is the best lighting setup.
Natural light allows your photo to be balanced, bright, and vibrant. It also allows for easier editing, since it should be well-balanced. Natural lighting is easiest outdoors, but if you’re shooting inside, try to shoot photos in well lit rooms or rooms with windows.
In terms of weather, overcast skies are best for photography. If it’s too sunny outside, you could risk photos being overexposed, and could run into trouble with having balanced lighting in your shot.
Natural light and time of day go hand-in-hand.
Make sure you’re taking your photos at the right time of day, especially if you’re using natural lighting. The best time of day to take photos is sunrise or sunset. The sun is low enough in the sky that it does not cast unwanted shadows. (Plus, sunrises and sunsets are great backdrops for photos in general.)
Use a grid.
Many phones today have a feature you can turn on when using your camera, that allows you to look through your “lens” with a grid. This is great for composition techniques like rule of thirds, or making sure your subject is centered.
Stabilize your phone.
Some of us are gifted with stable hands, but if you’re running on your third cup of coffee for the day, your hands might not have the patience for staying still for more than a split second. Nothing is more upsetting than taking the perfect photo and realizing later that it’s blurry, so make sure to figure out a way you can stabilize your camera. Try and use both hands, put your elbows on a stable surface (table, ground, etc.), or you can even buy tripods or stabilizers designed specifically for your phone. These may come more in handy if you’re filming video on your phone, but are certainly an option for photography as well.
COMPOSITIONAL TECHNIQUES TO TRY:
Rule of thirds.
This rule goes along with the grid recommendation above. If your lens is broken up into a 3 x 3 grid, you can use those lines as a guideline for creating great compositions. The main idea is to put your subject along one of the lines, to make it off center in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Symmetrical photos are easy on the eyes, and create a sense of balance. If you’re going to center your photo or use symmetry, definitely use your grid or lens guides to make sure your composition is precise in its symmetry. There’s nothing more frustrating to look at than a crooked photo or something that’s slightly off center. Take multiple shots in case your hand moves the camera while shooting. And, check your photos before leaving your destination.
Depth of field.
Photos that have a lot of depth add character to your photo. Even having your subject in focus, and the rest of the photo out of focus adds a depth to your photo that makes your viewers look at exactly what you want them to. With phones, this feature is becoming increasingly popular, and is usually done by tapping on your subject to make sure it is in focus. The new iPhones even have a “portrait” mode that makes this depth of field even more dramatic. Sometimes you need a photo to look more flat, but often times adding dimension makes your photo way more interesting.
Frame your subject.
Finding natural ways to frame your subject is a subtle way to guide viewers’ eyes to your subject. Trees, windows, and tunnels/arches are some of the most popular ways to frame your subject. Depending on where you’re taking the photo, try and get creative with the things around you to frame your subject.
Drawing people into your subject with lines is a subtle, and aesthetically pleasing way to compose a photograph. Bridges, sidewalks, roads, and railroad tracks are popular means of using leading lines in your composition.
Patterns and textures.
Eyes are naturally attracted to repetition and patterns, so using interesting patterns and textures are always great if you can find something interesting. Breaking up a simple pattern with your subject also interrupts the pattern in a good way. It allows the eyes to focus on “one of those things that’s not like the other” and really makes your subject pop. For instance, this is why a lot of photographers like to place subjects in front of brick walls.
Pointing and shooting directly in front of you can work in a lot of instances, if you’re doing headshots or need a realistic approach to your photography. However, to stand out among the crowd, try taking photos from interesting angles. Try getting low to the ground, or a birds eye view! It allows people to see something they wouldn’t normally be able to perceive.
THINGS TO AVOID:
Avoid using flash.
Using flash often washes out your subject and creates an atmosphere is that has too much contrast. You also risk the flash bouncing off metallic objects and creating a noticeable glare on the photo, ultimately making the photo look low-quality.
Unless you need a photo that looks extremely washed out, do not overexpose your photo. If anything, underexpose your photo. You can always increase exposure, but once it’s overexposed, you can’t tone it down if your camera didn’t pick up on any shapes or colors.
Of course, professional photography is the best solution for your brand. However, if you rely on photo-heavy social media posts daily, you will probably want to learn how to take good photos on a budget. Phone cameras are becoming increasingly better each year, and are definitely the cheapest alternative to professional photography, as long as you use your phone camera like you would to produce the quality photos of a manual camera.
At ocreations, we love to produce content for social media. Let’s get creative. Reach out to us today.