Smartphonography, the changing face of photography

Smartphonography, the changing face of photography

Have you ever gone onto Google to see how many photos are uploaded daily onto Facebook and Instagram? Of the two platforms Instagram receives more cellphone uploads than Facebook and the rapid pace of technology in cellphone cameras has led to a new term being coined, that of “Smartphonography”.

It is quite simple, wherever you are you have a camera at hand that can deliver amazing pictures and videos commercial videos and advertising pics have been shot on smartphones. That being said, let’s take a look at a few tips to improve your cellphone pictures.

Remember in today’s society it is a lot about instant gratification and with platforms such as Instagram sharing via your phone does just that, the picture has no need to sit unseen on a hard drive, it’s there for all to see in an instant. And you get likes and feedback immediately, people love getting comments.

So to help you improve your pics, a few suggestions;

Use the photo grid on your camera, activate the tool and you will get two horizontal and two vertical lines that give you a layout of 9 equal squares on the screen. In the old days of film photography, we used to change our cameras focusing screen from the standard fresnel screen to a bright architectural screen with a similar grid pattern. If you look at why we did this it will explain why we advocate adding it to your smartphone.

  • It helps you to balance your picture and if you are taking pictures of landscapes or buildings it allows you to line up edges or the horizon or even a point of perspective using the grid. This levelling effect straightens things out
  • The grid allows you to follow the “rule of thirds” a photographic technique that dates back to the beginning of photography which is a composition aid. This may seem old hat to a trained photographer but not to a newbie. The rule can be broken but it is a great guide to good composition.
  • The grid also helps to place the horizon and get a more impactful picture.
  • You can also place items of interest using the grid which results in a more interesting and impactful picture. In this way, the subject is no longer simply in the middle of the picture but becomes the focus of a picture.

The next tip is to change the way you hold the camera, generally, when you watch people taking cellphone pictures they hold the camera in a vertical format, this is fine for a portrait picture but switch to horizontal, you will be amazed at the difference it makes. However, do not be afraid to shoot in portrait format as it is preferred for Instagram. Before we go on make sure that you wipe the lens to keep it clean of pocket fluff, this could improve a picture drastically. 

In all types of photography, good lighting is essential. Even with cellphones, it helps to look for the light that you get before sunset and sunrise and good weather which will give you optimum flexibility to get that great shot. That being said bad weather can add an element of drama to a picture.

Then you need to focus, to ensure that your image is not blurred, the phones touch screen allows you to select a focus point which may even result in the “bokeh” often sort by photographers with very expensive cameras. A steady camera is important, to achieve the effect of a tripod you may need to lie, sit or even lean against a tree, building or structure.

Then unless your camera has an optical zoom be careful of using the zoom feature, the digital zoom simply enlarges and crops the photo which can result in a blurred picture.

For many of us the original picture is often a mere point of departure, do not be afraid to use the edit features that come with your camera as well as the various filters. You can even download and editing apps which can do amazing things to your photo, all a few minutes before you upload it. Remember many pro photographers spend hours editing pictures in photoshop before making them available! This will get you more likes and may even result in more shares.

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