The Photopreneur’s Guide To Good Mobile Phone Photography

It never fails. You spend thousands of dollars on state of the art photography equipment and when the greatest shot you’ve ever seen comes along, you’ve got nothing but the tiny lens on your mobile phone. So you pull it out, take a snap… and you’re not surprised when the picture turns out dark, blurry and generally poor.jman

In the old days, photographers would never have gone too far without an Instamatic, point-and-click camera that they could stuff into their pocket and pull out for those on-the-spur moments. The images they produced were surprisingly good but they were taken by real cameras. Camera phones though are built to be held to the ear rather than to the eye so squeezing a good picture out of one is hard… but not impossible. Here’s what you need to know to do it right:

1. Use lots of light
Camera phones handle low light badly. If your phone has a “night” setting — and many do — you should probably use it in all but the strongest light environments. And don’t rely on the flash to solve the problem. They aren’t exactly like your studio lights; expect to end up with uneven shadows and odd reflections. The only other solution is to either shoot outdoors in bright sunlight or turn all the lights on in the room and point any spotlights at the subject. But that kills the spontaneity, right?

2. Take close-ups of one subject
A wide focal length and digital zoom make for poor landscape shots and fuzzy details. For best results, you want to be about two feet from the subject. Getting even closer and focusing on just one subject though can help with the creativity and let you produce images that are low on detail but rich on composition. That’s one way to beat the phone challenge.

3. Press and… wait
There’s often a delay between the push of the button on a camera phone and the moment when the picture is captured. Of course, delays are the last things you expect — or want — when you’re taking a spontaneous image with a camera phone. The result is often a blur instead of a memory. The only solutions are patience, a solid object to keep the camera steady… and the intention of creating artistic blur.

4. Go for the unconventional
Most decent cameras will always outshoot the lens on a mobile phone. But mobile phones can be taken anywhere, held anywhere and their low quality shots can be used to effect. So hold the phone at strange angles; move while you shoot to get the blur; take shots of body parts instead of whole portraits. Do all the experiments that take just too much work with your main machine but which are a breeze with your phone.

5. Use your images as a palette
Of course, you can always improve the images you take off your phone in post-editing. Vicman software offers a specialized editor for enhancing mobile phone images, but one option is to go wild in Photoshop and completely transform your pictures to create something very different. Your camera phone, for example, could be a great way to build your own mini-stock library that you can use to build montages.

Camera phones are much too limited to replace the kinds of images you can take with your main camera, and without a lot of post-production you’ll always find it hard to sell them. But they’re so easy to take, they’re worth the effort to create some unusual, spontaneous pictures.

Image of a Japanese man taking a picture of the fireworks at the Thames festival 2006 by Sean Brightman.

[tags] photopreneur’s guide, mobile phone photography, camera phone photography [/tags]

2 comments for this post.

  1. motorsportBABESau Said:

    In my younger days the only camera I had was my camera phone. My Nokia 6610 was my first digital camera of any sort. I took something like 3000 pics with it in the 2 years that it was my main phone before I upgraded. It started my passion for photography. Some of my pics taken with it have even made my website. and made me some money!

  2. fizwoz Said:

    These are some great tips for people who are looking to use their mobile phone cameras for photography. Cell phone cameras are becoming more and more powerful, with more and more features. I would love to read about some of the tips that you would have for the newer camera phones.

    On the fizwoz blog, there is an article about how the competition between Apple and Google is forcing the companies to come out with better and better cameras.

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