Smart Phone Photography - treat your Phone like a Proper Camera

Smart Phone Photography - Treat your Phone like a Proper Camera

It sounds like a bit of a cliché doesn’t it - treat your smartphone like a “proper” camera - but bear with me on this one!

I am very keen to inspire anyone and everyone to get outside and enjoy the world around them. For me, I find that the best way to do this is to take my camera out and photograph the landscape – whether that be parkland close to my home, nearby woodlands, rivers and waterfalls, the beautiful Lake District Fells or other locations around the UK and further afield.

Through photography I have learned how to read the weather, notice subtle variances in the light at different times of the day and at different times of the year, I now look deeper into the landscape and often feel a real connection to a place, which is something that I didn’t always feel before I started photographing.

Now there are many other ways to enjoy the outside. When I’m not photographing I like to kayak, mountain bike and often just go out for a hike. But I’ve always got a camera with me – not always my big camera, but I’ve always got my phone in my pocket (or in a dry bag if I’m out on my Kayak)!

The beauty of smartphone photography is in its accessibility.

A Smartphone Image from 2018

A Smartphone Image from 2018

Most of us have a smartphone and the cameras on many of today’s smartphones are truely excellent (better in fact than some of the dearer cameras from just a few years ago). Thanks to the improvements in smartphone camera technology, the traditional point-and-shoot cameras have all but disappeared!

I’m all about accessibility in photography and I totally get why someone new to the world of photography might not want to go all in and buy an expensive DSLR camera without really knowing if it’s something that they will really enjoy. I also believe that, if all you want is to take pictures for Instagram, Facebook or other Social Media, a DSLR on many occasions is overkill – many of my favourite Instagram and Facebook images were taken on my phone and not my DSLR.

There are of course benefits to owning a DSLR and there are some things that a phone camera can’t do as well as a DSLR, but for most people starting out in photography (and for some of those more experienced – see Tim Day on YouTube), a smartphone will be more than adequate and remember, you can always upgrade at some point to a dearer DSLR camera if you really get into photography!

So, what do I mean treat your phone like a proper camera?

I’d like you to picture a scenario for me:

An experienced photographer is out on a walk with his or her camera, tripod, filters and all their other photography kit. They find a scene that they would like to shoot and spend a while working the composition; moving around, getting up high, squatting down low, stepping backwards, stepping forwards and exploring all the different angles and possible compositions. Once they’ve settled on a composition they like, the photographer sets up their tripod, attaches any filters that they may need, sets up the camera and will then wait for the light to be just right before finally hitting the shutter and taking the shot. Sometimes we get lucky, but more often than not it can take hours to get a shot.

Okay, so compare that to the average smartphone photographer who might have gone out to the same location at the same time. Nine times out of ten, the smartphone photographer will just see the scene, hold the phone to eye level and take the picture. All in all it will probably take less than two minutes and unless they are extremely lucky, the image will be nowhere near as pleasing to look at as the image from the previous example.

Gelt Woods with a Smartphone

Gelt Woods with a Smartphone

Now, as I said before, there are of course things that a DSLR can do that a smart phone simply cannot, however it is possible to get very decent pictures on a smartphone – particularly in landscape photography.

So next time you’re out with your phone and you see something you would like to photograph, treat your phone like a “proper” camera. Learn some basic compositional techniques (I’ll be covering many of these in an upcoming post) and spend some time working the scene, trying out different perspectives, angles and positions. Learn how to edit your final images (there are some great apps on the market – Snapseed is probably my favourite) and you will very quickly start seeing the potential of the little camera in your pocket.

I will be posting articles on smartphone photography on the 4th Wednesday of every month. Through these posts, I hope to go through everything related to smartphone photography; from basic techniques, editing apps, phone settings and essential smartphone photography kit – so keep an eye out!