It's long been said that the best camera is the one you have with you. That's never been more true than today thanks to the growing sophistication of the cameras in our mobile phones and to the limitless apps that go with those photos. One scroll through your Instagram feed and you may look twice, wowed by the quality of photos coming from the phone.
Behind the emergence of a these incredible mobile photos are countless amazing photographers who - everyday - redefine and push the limits of this new art. And so - we asked the world's best mobile photographers just how exactly they create art with their phones. Here are their 11 tips & tricks to stunning photos...right from your phone.
Explore the way they see the world, how they approach their craft and learn what's in their toolkit.
Create Blur On Purpose
For blur on purpose shots, I almost always use the app Camera+, although any app that lets you lock exposure and focus separately will do. It's pretty simple really. I wait until around sunset when car lights start coming on, and I find a good street that will make for nice bokeh lights. I then open Camera+ and lock the focus on something very close (I usually hold up my hand right to the lens). Then I'll compose my shot and tap the screen where I want the exposure to expose on. This works well on rainy days too because of the extra bokeh reflection in the water on the ground. I'll take a few shots before I have to flee the street and avoid getting run over.
In Alice's Toolkit:
Look For Leading Lines
When composing, look for lines (literal or figurative) that will provide a sense of movement and direction to your image.
In Pei's Toolkit:
I shoot on an iPhone 5s and occasionally use the Optrix Wide Angle lens attachment. To process my images, I have several apps that I use. I may use some or all of these, depending on the photo: Image Straightener, VSCO Cam, Snapseed, Touch Retouch, SKRWT, Squaready.
Get In Close
1. Have a a plan for your photo but don't be afraid to modify as you're in the middle of it. 2. Get in close and shoot as many frames as possible. Small changes in the subjects expression can greatly change the way one observes the image. 3. Shoot late in the day or early in the morning for a nice diffused light and more flattering look.
In Sam's Toolkit:
While I have tons of accessories, I'm finding myself keeping it to the basics when I'm shooting with the iPhone these days...maybe a small tripod for long exposures using the slow shutter app or average cam pro. For editing I use a mix of Snapseedfor their structure tool and VSCO for their color palate.
Chase the Sun
Shooting directly into the sun can be a little tricky, so I think the most important part of creating this photo was finding the best angle to approach the subject so that the silhouette would be warmly backlit without the intense light washing out the grasses in the field. If you look closely, there is a light beam barely peeking out from behind the base of the horse's neck, but his shoulder is blocking the brightest portion of the sun — allowing just enough light to reach my phone camera to illuminate the image without over-doing it. I worked with the opacity of the subject to control the exposure of the shot rather than manually selecting a focal point/exposure with the iPhone camera.
In Laura's Toolkit:
All of the images that I post to Instagram are shot and edited on my iPhone (currently an iPhone 5). I tend to edit lightly, using a combination of VSCO and Snapseed to brighten the photos, cool or warm the tone, increase contrast, and if necessary, straighten the horizon. On occasion, I use a tripod for self-timed photos, but normally I do not use any additional lenses or tools for my mobile photography.
Patience Makes Perfect
Photography is all about patience. I like to find interesting pockets of light and wait for the right set of circumstances to happen. Sometimes that intersection of life and light doesn't happen and you have to move on to the next possibility - but then sometimes all things line up and you come away with something interesting.
In Josh's Toolkit:
As far as editing, I use VSCO and sometimes Snapseed. I have a formula that I always stick to. I might have to tweak it a little depending on the look I'm after, but I believe that consistency in editing is very rewarding to my style and process...you can shoot pictures and expose them with your post process. Plus it cuts down on editing time.
Master the Movement
Our Wild Abandon's Advice:
For a good panning shot on mobile its best to get a 3rd party app, such as Slow Shutter, to drop the speed down. Move your phone at the same speed as your subject as you take the photo and release the shutter, be sure to continue your movement to achieve motion blur in the background.
In Our Wild Abandon's Toolkit:
Find Good Light
Natural light in the middle of the day can be harsh and frustrating for taking pictures. You might be able to get away with it when taking wider shots but anything closer and you're going to have harsh shadows and highlights. Instead of waiting for overcast conditions or a cloud to block the sun, try looking for areas with shade or areas that are blocking vertical light. Shaded areas reduce vertical light and allow softer horizontal light to illuminate your subject. Avoid going too deep into shaded areas as the light will not be as clean and your images will look flat. Examples of shaded areas include but are not limited to: building overhangs, shaded sides of buildings, between buildings or structures, indoors next to large windows, under trees, other shade from vegetation, and much more.
Angle is Everything
Never have you been able to place such a powerful lens in so many different places. I like to tuck the lens into corners or drop it close to the ground. Find creative perspectives where no lens has gone before.
Our Wild Abandon's Advice:
Shooting stills underwater with limited vision is a challenge. It's easiest to shoot in video mode and take a few tries at it, when it's all said and done pull the best stills and go from there (plus you get some pretty hilarious outtakes usually).
In Our Wild Abandon's Toolkit:
To make underwater photography possible, invest in a waterproof phone case.
Let Them Be Little
I love photographing kids in a place that shows how little they are.That usually entails keeping them at the bottom on the frame, standing back a good distance and allowing a lot of negative space around them. Once I get them in the right spot, I don't say much, I love them just being young and kid-ish without insecurities or thoughts of pleasing anyone. Their little free sprits do all the work from there!
Location, Location, Location
Being out on assignment in Joshua Tree, I was left to shoot without any service. To conserve battery power I would just turn my phone on airplane mode. But that means any photos I wish to post later would not have the geotag information built into the EXIF data. Bummer! But then I found a nice, free, little app that fixes that problem. The app is called Koredoko.You follow a few short steps: 1. Give the app access to your camera roll 2. Choose the photo you wish to assign geotag information to for posting on IG 3. Pinch and zoom your way on the map to place your photo in the exact spot it was taken. 4. Save with metadata to your camera roll 5. Post to IG with the correct location.