Using photos in your social media streams is a known way to get more attention to your posts. But sometimes, the only camera you have available is the phone. This can be convenient as you can upload directly from your camera to whatever social media stream you want. So clean your lenses – here are some tips for taking better photos with your phone.
Why do you need a photo?
First and foremost, ask why you need to take a photo in the first place. As I’ve already said, you’ll get more attention to your post, and that’s fine. But what does a photo add to your post? Are you putting faces to names? Are you highlighting something that needs to be seen to be believed? The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” is useful here, especially on microblogging platforms like Twitter. But if you are trying to get action shots, forget it. Your phone camera is good for profile shots, but that’s about it. Put the phone down or you’ll end up with plenty of blurry, unsuitable photos.
Know the limitations
It is a phone camera. It has maybe 5 megapixels, depending on the phone you have. You have little control over the focus, and no control over the aperture or shutter speed (don’t worry if you don’t know what those things are until you have access to a DSLR). Don’t expect print-quality photos from your phone. Take photos of still or slow-moving subjects and that will be a great start for better phone photos. And remember to keep yourself still as well – don’t add the blur by turning around with the subject. If you can, lean against something to steady yourself – a tree, a door frame or a fence work well.
We’ve all seen them – the photos of subjects where objects in the background take our attention. It may be the sun reflected in a car windscreen, or that person in the background make a crude gesture. You know it is distracting, so try to minimise them.
If possible, set up the subjects so they have their backs to the playing field, creating plenty of space behind them to blur the background significantly. The wall of the clubroom or a curtain will work if there is a large enough space. Try to keep everyone else out of the photo – it should just be the subjects. Try to place the club logo in the photo – either in the background, or someone wearing a jersey or similar attire. If you have club sponsors, you can slip their logo into the background, or – more importantly – make sure their competitor is not in the photo!
Framing Your Photos
Framing is simply setting everyone and everything up inside the photo “nicely”. I say “nicely” as different people have different ideas on what “nice” is. Photos of just one person end up looking somewhat awkward, so try to include a second person into the photo. If the person has won an award, have someone handing the award to them. If it’s an ensemble shot (say, the winners of yearly awards), try placing the tallest person in the middle and slightly behind the others. Or maybe stand the main award winner in front of the others.
Consider how difficult it is to edit photos on a phone, so try to get it right in the original photo first. Try to add some space above the tallest person’s head, and down to the waist. Landscape photos work better on social media, so resist the urge to turn your phone. Take a step back and frame it differently.
This is the toughest part of a photo to get right, because it is difficult to get control over how the subject will be lit. There are a couple of things you can do to improve your photos, though. Consider the time of day you are taking the photos. Around 9am and 5pm are ideal, as the sun is not high in the sky or low on the horizon. Direct sunlight can create harsh shadows on faces, so try moving to a shady area instead of out in the sun. With the sun on the horizon, the subject may be inclined to squint, so place the subject so they are at about 45° to the sun – still well lit, but not squinting as much.
If taking photos inside, artificial light can discolour or dim images, so be aware of what kind of lighting is available. A simple trick is to use a second phone with the torch on, and using that as a floodlight to light up the subject. Use extra phones to enhance the effect and to remove shadows.
One great feature about taking photos on your phone is the ability to keep taking photos – you don’t need to worry about running out of film (just worry about running out of battery!). If your first photo doesn’t look good on your phone screen, move around and try again. While I did mention that it’s difficult to edit photos on phone screens, that’s how many people digest their social media streams, so having photos that look good on a phone is important.
Want to find out more? Get in touch and we can work on your photography skills.