Making Images With Your Smartphone

by William Lulow

Nearly everyone has some kind of smartphone these days, and since they all have cameras built in to them, nearly everyone takes pictures these days. You don’t need to carry a “real” camera anymore. Just use your phone!

The problem is that nearly everyone simply raises their phone to their eye and snaps away. And, most people find that very easy, but there is a whole lot more to making good images than to simply record what’s in front of you. If you just want to record something that transpires before you, fine! Just hold your phone up and record it. But, if you want to make more interesting images, here are a couple of tips for using your smartphone’s camera more creatively. Many of these ideas revolve around noticing that LIGHT is really the defining element in just about all photographs. (The definition of PHOTOGRAPH is “light – picture”).

  1. Try a different angle. Get down on the floor or on the ground to capture your subject. Or, climb a tree! (I’m not being facetious here). Do something to change the angle. Don’t just simply hold the camera up to your eye.
  2. Look for different types of light. Shoot INTO the sun once in a while. In order to do this successfully, however, you will need to shade your lens. Find some nearby shade like under a tree, for example, and shoot a subject standing in the sun. Here, I asked the subject to go stand in the sun, while I was in the shade.
  3. Try doing more closeups. This goes with trying to change the angle, but smartphone cameras are quite versatile and can handle closeups very well.
  4. If you must include someone in the shot, make them secondary. That is, have them off to one side rather than just plopping them down in front of a landmark, for instance. Your image will be much more interesting. It will include your loved ones, but not obscure the landmark you are trying to record:Notice here how the Freedom Tower and part of the Brooklyn Bridge are in the shot but it shows the couple being there as well. They are also doing something other than just standing there in front of the landmarks. They’re not really secondary here, but they are off to one side in the composition. 

So, there are many ways of making your smartphone images better. Think always of the LIGHT and the ANGLE OF THE CAMERA. This will greatly improve your photographic efforts with any camera.