Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Taking better photos with your iPhone

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Out the window up on 42nd Street after visiting the dentist. 

It's been said that the best camera is the one you have with you and this is especially true with the rise in popularity of mobile phone cameras.  Everyone knows that it’s not the camera but the photographer who is the real magic behind an image and iPhone photography, or iPhoneography, seems to be leading to a future where photographers are no longer defined by the tools they use, or their shooting techniques.  Mobile phone photography is changing the way that professional (and non-pro) photographers work.  

For me, being limited by this technology and not having my usual (expensive) gear to fall back on has given me an unexpected freedom and creative push that I never imagined I would get with a simple camera phone. It's similar to the push that I feel when I shoot with my plastic cameras like my Holga or with my Diana lens or my vintage Polaroid.  On top of all that, it's so much fun to play around with the little camera on your phone and honestly, sometimes it's the most convenient.  Now that I have my daughter to chase after (and really, the girl just runs...walking is SO six months ago) I can't always carry my camera with me.  And, even when I do have my camera, it's so easy and fast to whip out my iPhone.  Some photography purists will say that this is not photography at all but I think there is a time and place for everything and the mobile phone camera and what comes out of it is here to stay.

So, since I get A LOT of email about my iPhone photos (thanks!) I thought I would put together this little list of tips/reminders on how to take not just better pictures, but awesome ones.  And, I use an iPhone but android is fantastic too.  Just check out Rachel Devine's mobile photos.

PS--If you're looking for more tips like how to be creative or how to photograph in low light, you can find them here.

1.  Treat your iPhone like a "real" camera.

I use my iPhone camera like a DSLR.  I set up my shots and composition in the same way I would if I had my Nikon and favorite lenses.  This is part of just pushing yourself to you use your camera to capture fun moments in an artistic and creative way.  Don't think that having your iPhone camera is a limitation because you really can create amazing images with it. But remember that obviously we're not talking about a fancy piece of equipment here.  You're not going to get the shots that you might if you used your other gear but that's not the point.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
My niece's reflection in an aquarium at the zoo last week.  I had my DSLR in the basket of my stroller because I was holding Lucia. I put her down to have a look at the fish but she wasn't as interested as her cousin who stood still staring for a whole 2 minutes...that's like hours in toddler time.  I popped out the iPhone and got this.

2.  Always shoot to save in your camera roll.

It sounds obvious but sometimes when you shoot directly from an app the photo doesn't get saved in your camera roll.  I like to have all my photos there so you keep an original (large) file.  You can use that file to try out different apps.  And, while I rarely do this, I also like to keep original copies from my camera roll in case I want to edit them in photoshop later like I would my other work.

3.  Experiment with apps to shoot and edit

Using filters to take and share your photos is all the rage right now.  Hello, Instagram?  There are a bunch of cool apps that you can use to have fun with your photos and not just add filters but make editing changes like exposure and saturation.  My current favorites are PS Express, Instagram (duh) and Genius.  You can see all my favorites here.

4. Try new things

You'd be amazed at what a fun, new angle can do to your photos.  Also, I'm a big fan of the square crop.  While I have Instagram to thank for this latest preference, I think it's a unique and unexpected way to showcase photos that sometimes don't work with a traditional crop.  Also, take A LOT of photos.  The good thing is that it's your phone and you can just delete the ones you don't want.  I tend to shoot a ton and then save everything when I use my DSLR and I keep everything.  With my iPhone I don't feel as bad about deleting ones that aren't great because after all, it's just a picture on your phone.  You don't have to shoot like you're going for a Pulitzer.  Have fun with it.  It's a camera phone!

Copyright Monica L. Shulman

Do you have any tips?  What are your favorite apps?

Copyright 2009 Monica L. Shulman

Copyright Monica L. Shulman

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Lucia meets a peacockShe is so brave that she just kept walking toward the bird as though she was hypnotized.  I was too nervous to try to take a photo with my DSLR because I wanted my hands free to hold her back if necessary.  The iPhone did the trick.

Some fun apps and more tips.   

Lisa Bettany is currently on an around-the-world trip and using only her iPhone to chronicle her adventures.  

And, this is a must-see for camera phone enthusiasts...the best camera with live photos from around the world.  

And some very cool accessories from Photojojo for your iPhone like this panorama lens, macro, fisheye, wide angle and telephoto lenses.

See more of my iPhoneography on my website here and here.