How to take great photos using your mobile phones?

patrick-tomasso-KGcLJwIYiac-unsplash take photos with mobile phones
Credit: Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

I was inspired to write this blog post after attending the Basic Mobile-graphy workshop at Canon Imaging Academy. This 2-hour practical workshop was conducted by Alvin Ho who is a professional events photographer. Through this workshop, we were taught about basic photo compositions and how to edit them using free mobile apps like Adobe Lightroom and Snapseed. Though I already knew the basics and how to edit using advanced photo-editing tools, I still wanted to revisit the basics to see if there’s more to learn.

Indeed, I came out feeling more motivated and inspired to shoot again (as I haven’t been shooting consciously for a period of time). As for the rest of the attendees, it was a mindblowing session for them as they discovered how easy it is to edit the way Instagrammers do. And I wonder if there were more people who might also be interested in photo editing but do not know how to go about it.

Are you interested in finding out how Instagrammers do their thing? Here are 5 easy tips for you to get started.

1. Take photos using the basic composition techniques

owen-spencer-a_niQxt96dA-unsplash take photos with mobile phones photo editing
Credit: Owen Spencer on Unsplash

Wait. What are composition techniques?

In photography, composition refers to the way how the different elements in a scene are arranged in a frame. Apparently, there are a set of rules (or rather techniques) which can guide you to take photos that looked more attractive and appealing to the eye. These are not hard and fast rules but they generally will make your photo look way better.

Canva - Vegetable Sandwich on Plate Photo by Daria Shevtsova take photos with mobile phones
When the main element of the photo is placed right in the centre, it appears very jarring to the eye.

One of the most basic composition techniques is the rule of thirds. It involves taking photos where the main element or subject is off-centred. Most of the time, we like to position our subject in the centre of the photo but it often appears as really jarring. Off-centre compositions, on the other hand, looked more pleasing to the eye. And the rules of third encourages you to make use of the negative space around the subject to create depth or perspective. This little detail will make your pictures look more interesting.

take photos with mobile phones
When you position the subject on the intersection points, the image looks more well-balanced.

To exercise this rule, just imagine that the image is divided into nine boxes. The point where the horizontal and vertical line intersects is where you want your subject to be.

Instead of positioning the Jewel Changi’s famous man-made waterfall in the centre of your photo, why not shift it slightly to the left or right to include more details into your photo?

joe-green-9yoPzIns9G4-unsplash Jewel Changi Airport  take photos with mobile phones
Credit: Joe Green on Unsplash

The other composition techniques include leading lines, patterns, textures and many more. Perhaps I will share more about such techniques on a separate post. There’s just so much to learn and discover about photography!

2. Edit your photos using free mobile photo-editing apps

jye-b-RuTMP0iI_ek-unsplash take photos with mobile phones photo editing
Credit: Unsplash

The current free mobile photo editing apps I’m using are Adobe Lightroom for mobile and Snapseed. They are easy to use and many of the Instagrammers used them to make minor changes to their photos. These photo-editing apps are also introduced during the Basic Mobile-graphy workshop I’ve attended and the instructor took the time to explain how each feature works. If you are new to such photo editing apps, you will be mindblown when you witness how user-friendly these apps are.

Photo editing can really make an ugly worthless photo looked stunning if you know how to tweak the colours and exposure. The best way to learn photo editing is to really spend some time playing with the various features and controls. Anybody can learn photo editing and you don’t have to understand computer language to master it.

Adobe Lightroom Mobile App

Adobe Lightroom take photos with mobile phones photo editing
Screenshots of my Adobe Photoshop Lightroom app on my iPhone

I personally prefer to use Adobe Lightroom because I can save the edits and settings of one photo and apply it to another image. Adobe calls them presets which really help time especially when you have a gazillion of photos to edit. But do note that if you want to use the premium features on Adobe Lightroom app, you have to pay a small fee for it. Snapseed, on the other hand, is entirely free to use all compatible mobile devices.

What I enjoy doing on the Lightroom app is to sharpen the image, increase clarity and warm up the colours in the image. I prefer looking at images with that looks rustic and somewhat bohemian-like. If you look at my Instagram feed, you will know what I mean. Just in case you’re wondering what phone I’m using, here it is – iPhone 7. Even though I may not have the latest mobile phone with triple lenses, I can still work my magic in photos using photo editing apps.

3. Post your work on Social Media Platforms like Instagram

Instagram feed deeniseglitz take photos with mobile phones photo editing

Once you’ve edited your photos, try to post it on your social media platforms like Instagram or on your website. When you post, you can get instant feedback on your photos. Although you might not receive very useful or technical feedback all the time, you can roughly gauge which of your images are more appealing to others and which are not. From there, you can work to improve your photography skills. Though the number of ‘likes’ you get might not reflect your photography skills, there will still be people out there who appreciate your work and leave a nice comment.

Posting your work for the public to see will also motivate you to post and take better photographs too.

4. Keep shooting and practising

angela-compagnone-4Iyg6cNU7sI-unsplash take photos with mobile phones photo editing
Credit: Angela Compagnone on Unsplash

Once you have mastered the composition techniques and learn how to edit them, it’s important to keep shooting and practising. I would also urge you to keep an open mind and try different styles of shooting. Photography is an area where it allows you to exercise creativity so embrace it. After all, this is a great platform to channel your creative energy.

You may experience photography fatigue at some point if you are always shooting the same thing over and over again. One way to avoid this is probably to experiment with another genre of photography or simply take a break. But pick up your camera again once your inspiration and burning passion kick in.

For myself, I have not been active on Instagram for quite some time ever since I reboot my Instagram account. I wasn’t motivated to take pictures these days. But now that I’ve attended the Basic Mobile-graphy workshop, I felt more driven to shoot as often as I can.

5. Advance your photo-shooting and editing skills by attending courses or watch tutorials

Credit: Austin Distel on Unsplash

Don’t stop where you are but advance your skills further. I learn so much about photo-taking and photo editing tips from professional photographers and Instagrammers who posted photography-related tutorials on YouTube. Thanks to them, I was able to get into that ‘Instagram’ game.

If you prefer a more hands-on experience, you can attend the photography workshops like Basic Mobile-graphy at Canon Imaging Academy. Canon also offers a range of other photography workshops, walks and travel trips which are open to the public. You can even use your Skillsfuture funds to pay for some of these courses. If you are new to photography, you should attend their Basic Photography course where you learn how the DSLR function and what ISO and aperture are all about.

I’ll definitely to share more about photography and photo-editing in my upcoming posts so stay tuned!

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