These days, photography is so accessible that even a two-year-old can tinker with a smartphone and accidentally take a decent photo. That's why it's more important than ever to update your mobile photography skills.
Elevate your Instagram game with this quick and easy guide to producing breath-taking phone camera shots that are truly worth sharing and double-tapping.
01. Don't limit your options
Never trust that your first photo will be good enough to be posted on the 'Gram. From inconsistent lighting to camera blur, many factors can affect how your final image will turn out. Instead of opening the Instagram app and capturing just one shot, use your smartphone’s built-in camera to take numerous snaps with ease. That way, you can pick and choose between a variety of options later on.
02. Seek out visually-stunning locations
There are so many undiscovered, photographic spots around the globe, and you hold the key to sharing them with the rest of the world—or at least with your loyal Instagram followers. Instead of sticking to the same tried and tested shots of your usual haunts, dig a little deeper and discover hidden gems that are specific to your neighborhood.
If you’re traveling to a completely new destination, make sure to do your research beforehand and scout for visually interesting locations that would make for great photographs. Browse through Instagram’s geotags and hashtags to discover the best angles and vantage points of the sights you’re interested in seeing.
Provide more visual context about your location by including unique elements—food, clothing, landmarks—that are distinct to that country's culture.
03. Picture outside-the-box angles
Think before you click. Don’t fall into the trap of rushing to take multiple pictures that end up looking exactly the same. Absorb the entire scene and think outside of the box when it comes to your perspective. The most interesting place to shoot from may be from the top of a tower or even from the bottom of a winding staircase.
Take your shot a step further by getting creative with your camera position. Raise your smartphone way up over your head, shoot from the hip, or even lay it on the grass to capture one-of-a-kind viewpoints. The beauty of its compact size is that it allows for a wide range of angles using just one steady hand (or even a tripod).
04. Use lighting to add drama to your photo
Lighting is one of the most essential factors in either making or breaking an image, and it's also one of the easiest ways to add drama to your mobile photography. Smartphone cameras work best in natural light, because it produces sharp details and vibrant colors that seemingly leap from the frame. When composing your shot, observe how light and shadow interact and contrast with one another, and use this to create more dynamic shots.
Low-light settings can be trickier to shoot with a smartphone, but the results are just as breathtaking. Resist the urge to turn on your built-in flash since this will often just blow out the foreground. Shoot on manual mode and tweak the shutter speed and ISO setting for a better chance at capturing the perfect low-light shot.
05. Take pictures during golden hour and blue hour
Who doesn’t love the saturated hues that sunrises and sunsets produce? Shoot during golden hour (just after sunrise or before sunset) and expect your photographs to have rich, vibrant tones.
Alternatively, you can utilize the underrated beauty of blue hour (moments before sunrise or after sunset), to capture an intensely blue sky. Ask your subject to stand in front of this magical horizon to create a beautifully dramatic silhouette.
06. Shoot in landscape format
A good rule of thumb is to follow the way people actually view the world by shooting in a wide, horizontal format. This orientation is much easier to crop into an Instagram square later on.
07. Get close
Are you fascinated with the finer details? If you want to capture the intricate textures that you discover through macro photography, refrain from using your smartphone’s digital zoom feature, which can make your image look grainy.
Instead, get as close to your subject as physically possible. Stay still and tap on the area of the screen you want to focus on. Be aware of your camera’s shutter lag time, and don’t move your phone immediately after. For extra control, place your elbows on a table or prop the gadget against a wall.
08. Frame your scene
Look for natural frames and leading lines that can give a sense of depth to your photographs. Whether positioned in the foreground or background, these objects help direct your viewers’ attention toward the focal point.
09. Look for symmetry
Symmetry has long been synonymous with beauty. Train your eye to seek balance by drawing an imaginary line directly down the middle and checking if both sides contain a mirror image of each other. Be on the lookout for buildings, bridges, and other architectural marvels that are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Preserve harmony by placing your subject at the very center.
10. Keep your smartphone in tip-top shape
No matter when, where, or how you choose to take photographs from your smartphone, always make sure your gadget is primed to capture each moment. Keep it fully charged and make sure its lens is clean—fingerprints, grease, and dirt are your biggest enemies!
Also, allot enough storage space for images to be saved in the highest quality format. You don't want a photography session to suddenly be cut short because your gadget’s battery is at 0% or doesn’t have enough memory space.
Preparation and composition go hand in hand. With these essential tips in mind, you’ll always be ready to immortalize Instagram-worthy moments with nothing more than your trusty mobile phone.