How to take great pictures with your cell phone

Hello everyone! I've been thinking about doing a post like this for a while now just because I think it would be fun information to share. I recognize that not everyone has a fancy camera to document their life with. However, many people DO have a fancy little piece of technology that they carry around with them everywhere- their cellphone! So many cell phones these days are capable of taking amazing pictures. Some of the images from my Egypt blog post are taken with my cell phone (see that post here!) and I love how they turned out! Granted, the quality and detail will never be as good as what you can accomplish with a camera, but if you consider a few things before taking your picture your well on your way to getting great cell phone images. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Think about your lighting. Is the lighting spotty? Meaning, are there bright spots on the person's face? Is the sun directly behind the individual? If there's too much light coming into your camera they will look dark and hazy. Try to find areas with "open shade" meaning you see shade on the ground but if you look up you see the sky (not a tree etc). This usually gives you great even lighting.

  2. Consider what is reflecting onto an individual. Is there a white wall near by? Use that to your advantage. That will reflect good clean light. Or if you have the choice to put someone on a gray sidewalk or green grass, choose the sidewalk. The end goal here is to try to create the best settings so you don't have to do a lot of editing.

  3. Consider angles when posing. You know that no one looks good when the camera is underneath them (can you say double chin). But think about how people might look more flattering if the twist their waist away from the camera rather than face it directly. Or if a woman puts her hand on her waist her arm won't flatten against her body. For guys, they might like to face the camera straight on so their shoulders look more broad. Obviously these are generalizations and you have to do what works best for the person you are taking the picture of.

  4. Lastly, never underestimate a few tweaks in an editing software. I have lightroom on my phone but there are a bunch of free ones you can use. A popular free one is VSCO and that works pretty good. A general tip to remember when editing is you want to increase your highlights and take down your shadows. This will make a picture pop and create more contrast. Also consider the temperature. Does it feel too cool or too warm? And lastly, less can often be better when editing. You want to do just enough so the picture pops but doesn't look too heavy.

Here's a few examples to go through:

Okay so for this picture, I brightened the image and made it a little warmer. Since I wasn't focusing on an individual, but the landscape I didn't have to think about where to put them etc. If I had though, this would have been a great place to put them! The light is nice and warm and soft and there is open shade. I just wanted to capture that beautiful glowly light though!

There are so many things to note about this picture that I was thinking about before I took it so I'll write them out:

  1. The sidewalk acts as a lead line to my subject, Matt and Penny.

  2. The white tree adds some dimension to the image by adding foreground.

  3. When I edited I cropped the image so they would be in third quadrant (google rule of thirds) and I cropped out the car in the background which was a distraction.

  4. The light here was beautiful. They had good light coming in behind them and it was not too overpowering as the trees helped diffuse it. They had light on the front of their face as well because they had access to open sky and weren't in the shade.

  5. Lastly, editing. The before was clearly too cool so I warmed it up, made it brighter and took down some of the shadows for pop. I'm a fan of how the final image turned out!

Whew, after writing all that out, I realize that barely scratches the surface of all the things your should consider when taking a picture, but its a good baseline that I hope you find helpful! Tag me on Instagram at @smohamedphoto if you use these tips to take a picture!

All my best,