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Photography with a phone

Hello! I hope you have been enjoying discovering great natural light and practising your composition. In this lesson I am going to be helping you to get the best from a smartphone.

The cameras on our phones are amazing and just keep getting better and better. The best thing about them is that they are in our pockets and ready to use at a moment's notice. This is perfect for social media.

But it's important to learn how to use them properly and to really practise with them, so that you achieve the best results you can.

I use an iPhone 6s and I use this for about 70% of all my Instagram images. A few years ago I realised just how important the iPhone (and other smartphones) was going to become for photography. I was pretty useless when I first started taking photographs with it. I have been shooting through a view finder since I was 7, so composing and taking images with a screen took a lot of getting used to.

An image a day

I set myself a challenge to take a photograph every day for a year, including the day I gave birth to my fourth child! I was in early labour and thought, well I might not have time later, so I must take a photography now! This 365 project really helped me and it's something I can highly recommend. That's why I've started a #Makelight365 project – you can join in if you like!

I still take photos nearly every day with my iPhone and at least once a week with my dSLR.

When I take images with my iPhone I nearly always use the camera app. I never use the Instagram camera as the quality is just not as good. I sometimes use Camera + and VSCO Cam. They are both great but I love the simplicity of the main camera app itself.

Shooting square

When I am shooting for Instagram I always shoot square. I never shoot portrait (photo) and then crop afterwards. It is really important to try to compose for the format you want your image to be, rather than trying to compose with the idea that you will crop it later.

If I am using my iPhone to photograph images for a blog post then I make sure that I compose square images as well as portrait and landscape images. For my blog post I will use the portrait (ideal for pinning to Pinterest) and landscape images and then I will use one of the square images to promote my blog post on Instagram.

It's really good to practise styling, composing and shoooting both square and photo (portrait/landscape) images as often as you can. Even if you only end up using the square ones. It helps you to not get stuck doing everything one way.

Focus and exposure

There are two things that you need to do each time you take a photograph with your Smartphone. The first is to focus on your subject. You can do this by tapping the screen. If you are taking a flat lay image it is best to tap in the middle.

And then you can adjust the exposure. On the iPhone you do this by tapping to focus and then you will see a sunshine. This means you can scroll up and down to change the exposure. The exposure is how light or dark the image is. In my workshops this is the point where everyone goes "oooooo...." and gets very excited. I hope there are lots of those noises happening around the world today as you all discover the sunshine!

On an android phone you should be able to change the exposure too. It is usually a +/- sign and it is sometimes hidden in the extra options. If it is hidden and you have the chance to add it to your main camera menu then do that as it is so helpful to be able to change the exposure.

Shooting Android

Recently I have also been using an Android phone camera and have been really impressed. I have a Samsung Galaxy 6 and the camera is really stunning. If you have an Android you should be excited about the camera you have in your pocket!

You can shoot Sqaure by changing the image ratio in the camera options and as I mentioned above I really recommend this for your Instagram images. You can also adjust the exposure and the ISO. I have been leaving my ISO on Auto on my Android phone but if you want to shoot in lower light then increase your ISO.

You might like to read this blog post that I wrote about my first adventures with an Android phone camera.

Get practising!

Whether you have an Android phone or an iPhone, the technology and cameras we have in our pockets is amazing. It blows me away on a daily basis. It opens up photography and what we can do with images. I get incredibly excited about where we are now and where this will take us in the future.

Your camera phones should encourage you to really see the world around you. To take moments to really look at the details. To see things you might usually miss. To remember the little things as well as the big things. And then of course share with people all around the world.

Go and get excited about all of this! Practise as much as you possibly can and learn to get the very best from the camera that is (nearly) always with you. It will do amazing things for your photography on other cameras too. Have fun!

If you have any questions about your camera phones please ask in the Facebook Group.

Have lots of fun practising with your Smartphones over the weekend. Remember to think about Natural Light, Composition, Focus and Exposure. And then practise editing them too.

And remember if you are sharing any of the images on social media, use the class hashtag #makelighthoney, so we can all see them.

I can't wait to see them in the Facebook Group. xo

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