The cameras in our phones may be getting better all the time, but there is no denying that photos taken on your cell phone are often a little lacking in wow factor.
Luckily we have a couple of simple photo hacks that help take your phone photos from “snaps” to composed pictures which you will actually want to hang on the wall.
When it comes to lighting, nothing beats the sun. Natural lighting gives you depth and colour that would otherwise require expensive equipment. That said, you don’t want to take photos in direct sunlight as it will flatten your image out again (it’s too bright). The trick is to find a space which is well lit with natural light, but not actually in direct sunlight.
DIY Pro lighting
If you are taking photos in unnatural light then you need to do more than turn on the over-head fluorescents. It’s easier than you think to add some professional looking lighting to your photos at home. Bring in an additional lamp (or two) and make sure that you have more than one light source (You want light coming from more than one angle). This can be achieved with lamps, or reflective services such as white paper to bounce the light back again (a mirror is too harsh). You can also drape a cloth over your lights (or place a piece of paper in front of the lamp) to diffuse the light and take off the hard edge electric lighting can give.
Background and Angle
Taking note of what is in the background of your image is the easiest, and most commonly ignored photo hack there is! Before you “snap” that picture, make sure there are no dirty coffee mugs or unsightly (or mundane) objects in the background. Then take note of the angle you are taking your picture from. If you are photographing your children, get down on their level to take the photo rather than taking it from standing. Often a little thought is all you need to make the difference between a so-so snap and a frame-worthy photo. Also, hold the phone straight to avoid diagonal compositions.
Most phone cameras have a terrible zoom feature. The moment you zoom in with the average phone camera you lose your definition and end up taking shoddy quality photos. If you can, rather keep your phone’s camera completely zoomed out and move closer to your subject to take a bigger photo.
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to edit! Even if you don’t have Photoshop installed on your PC, there are so many free editing apps and tools out there that you really have no excuse not to tweak your photos a little before you print. Even your phone probably has its own editing features.
However, that doesn’t mean you should just slap a filter on all your photos and call it a day! The basic things to play with are:
- Light (or exposure)
- Contrast (make sure your photos are defined)
- Red-eye reduction
- Crinkles and blemishes – your friends and family will love you better if you apply a gentle beauty filter to portraits to help smooth out their little imperfections
- Colour filter or monotone – sometimes the most blah photos can be transformed into something striking by simply making them black and white. You can also play with your colour filters for different moods, but make sure you go through the light and contrast steps first
Last but not least – have fun with it! The best thing about digital photos is that you can play with them (and take lots of them) without eating through rolls of expensive film.