Here are 5 techniques to help you stand out with your phone camera skills

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You know it, I know it, everyone knows it: we are all “photographers” now. Everyone is taking out their handy-dandy pocket companion and snapping photos with as little effort as simply looking at the subject and closing their eyelids. But that is also exactly why most photos we take with our phones look so dull unless there’s something like a mind-blowing sunset in front of us, for example.A phone is a tool, as we all know so well but seem to forget nowadays, and a tool is only as useful as you make it out to be. There are numerous professional photographers who reach for their phones to take a quick snapshot simply because of the form factor’s benefits, the main one being portability, but also unobtrusiveness and the ability to keep a low profile.

In this article, I want to talk about 5 easy ways you can elevate your phone photography to make it stand out from the piles and piles of image spam you see online. Even if you are not someone who regularly uploads or enjoys being on social media, at the very least, I hope these helpful tips result in better-captured memories that you would feel tempted to revisit more often.

Break the Angle

As humans, we are very used to observing the world from our own point of view. You might have heard this one already, but the angle from which you shoot can change a scene from a mediocre one to an attention-grabbing one.Of course, you can always crouch, lay down, or raise yourself on your toes, but these are just the most basic examples of changing your angle, and the ones you have probably already tried out.

Instead, think of turning your phone upside down to bring the camera (which is usually placed at the top side of the phone’s back) closer to the ground. This simple change in the phone’s orientation works especially well while using an ultrawide camera, as it captures a good chunk of the ground and whatever is in front of the camera, creating the sensation of a grand scene and a larger world. Think of it as seeing life from an ant’s perspective.

The Better Way to Use Your Ultrawide Camera

Listen, people tend to think that the ultrawide camera is best used to capture large vistas and big scenery, but that is not the only case in which it is useful. Ultrawide cameras capture more in a single shot, but they also make things appear smaller than they actually are. So, if you think about it, a better use for the ultrawide camera on your phone can be to photograph things that are closer.

I reached this conclusion while listening to one of the most famous photographers at the moment, Greg Williams. He uses wide and ultrawide lenses (sometimes his phone’s) to take candid photos of people in enclosed and sometimes tight spaces. Here are a couple of his shots as an example:

This is, in my humble opinion, where the ultrawide camera truly shines, as it enables the photographer to capture more of the scene with the limited amount of space they have. Of course, the same benefit applies in outdoors scenarios too.
Another great example comes from landscape photography, where a classic technique is to find an interesting subject and place it at the forefront of the image, or otherwise called the foreground. This subject brings in the viewer’s attention to the rest of the image. Think of it as the alluring gate that invites the eyes of the curious to explore what’s beyond, and what’s beyond usually is a gorgeous midsection and background that make you go “woah.”

Your Phone Is Not Attached to Your Hand

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One of the most obvious and greatest advantages of using your phone’s camera is that you can, for the most part, place it anywhere you want! It is a thin, protected (with a case), small piece of tech that can take photos and video, so why not use that to your advantage?Have fun and try to think of the craziest places you can position your phone to record yourself. One way I recently discovered to be very useful was the headrest of my car’s seat. I raised the headrest up so that my phone would fit in there, and then pushed the headrest down to secure its position. This made for an awesome over-the-shoulder shot that would otherwise have been difficult to get in the confined space of my car if I were to use a regular camera.

Use the Other Camera Modes Too

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I know… I know that YOU know that your phone has slow motion, time lapse, pro, and all kinds of different modes in the camera app. But how often do you REMEMBER you have those modes, huh? I, for one, tend to forget about them more than I would like to admit as a photographer with years behind the camera at this point.

The thing is, when I DO remember I have those features, it always results in a better-captured memory. And that’s especially true when I am somewhere with friends or doing something cool that would benefit from a more unique shot.

Are you on a picnic or at a party, or watching the clouds during an awesome sunrise? Then a time lapse might look pretty cool (as long as you find somewhere to place your phone). Is there a thunderstorm outside and you are in the safety of your home? Then open that camera app and go to the slow motion mode because you are about to capture some jaw-dropping scenes! Just make sure you have enough space on your phone because slow motion footage can eat up your phone’s storage pretty quickly.

Become Invisible

I mentioned earlier that one of the great advantages of a phone’s camera is that it is unobtrusive and low-key. You can use that to become a so-called “fly on the wall,” to blend in with your environment and become a simple observer.

When I am not writing articles such as this one, I am a wildlife photographer, and in that specific niche of photography, the most important part is that you remain unnoticed and the subject (the animal) is not disturbed. This way, more often than not, is how you get the best and most natural shot.

While a phone’s camera is probably still not exactly the ideal tool for photographing wildlife, it is probably the best camera tool for capturing street photography! Most people are used to phones, so it can be easier to get more candid moments in a busy area like a street market. Of course, if someone’s face is clearly visible in the shot, the respectful and responsible thing to do is to ask them if they are okay with the photo or video.

What I am getting at here is that you can capture some special moments that happen in an instant, which you would otherwise have a harder time capturing with a larger camera.

The Most Important Advice

There are many ways you can improve the photos and video you capture with your phone, but as cheesy as it sounds, the best way you will accomplish that is by being more curious and having more fun with it. The road to discovery is the act of playing. Try to think like a child; remember how your mind worked when you were a kid and you were trying all kinds of new things with the tools (toys and environment) you had on hand. This way, you will get much more satisfaction from your photos and videos and create more original imagery.


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