Smartphone photography (Shutterstock: see caption below)
Article 20 August

How to take great photos with your smart phone

Want to take great photos on your phone? Award-winning photographer Richard Gray shares his tips for making the most of your mobile’s camera...

One of the world’s great photographers, Henri Cartier-Bresson, would have loved mobiles. He said: “I like the smallest camera possible, not those huge reflex cameras with all sorts of gadgets”.

Everyone is a photographer now thanks to mobile phone cameras. Everyone, all the time, and anywhere. That’s their beauty – and the reason Flickr tells us more photos on its site are now taken with an iPhone 5 than a Canon 5D.

We’re all photo editors and publishers, too. Thanks to a huge variety of easy-to-use apps, we all now have Photoshop at our fingertips; and through photo-sharing platforms such as Instagram we can show the world our creations. But that’s not to say everyone takes good photos all of the time...

1. Always be ready

Your phone is always with you, so you’ve no excuse not to capture something that grabs your attention. They’re great for candid street photography, especially when travelling – I caught this glamourous lady pausing for thought in New York’s Upper Eastside, and then used a mask in PhotoWizard to blur out the background.
Image taken using VSCO Cam app and edited with PhotoWizard

2. Look for shapes

The chiming layers and harmonic colours of this New York street scene appeals to the part of the brain that likes balanced photos – where shapes and colours come together to make something that just works. You can then enhance the e ect with the fi lters – providing the retro grain for example – from a photo editing app like Snapseed.
Image taken in Hipstamatic and edited in Snapseed

3. Choose good subjects

You’ll get more ‘likes’ on your social media site if you post an eye-popping image – like the Ostend Kite Festival here – that takes them by surprise or makes them laugh. I used a Hipstamatic combination to get the retro feel in this photo and Snapseed to increase the contrast in the clouds.
Image taken in Hipstamatic and edited in Snapseed



4. Use the apps

Mobile photography is all about the apps. A vast array of photography apps has given us the power to craft almost any image we can imagine. Using the Slow Shutter Cam app I can transform the standard icon that is a New York taxi cab and turn it into a blaze of electric colours.

Image taken with Slow Shutter Cam app and edited in Snapseed


5. Find the light

The light from the counter gives these guys working at a music festival a more spectral, ethereal appearance. Photography literally means ‘drawing with light’. Light coming from unusual angles will also make for a more interesting photo. Your mobile gives sharper images if it has good light.
Image taken with the iPhone camera app and edited in Snapseed




Richard Gray is an award-winning photographer with both mobile and 'proper' cameras. Follow him on Twitter @rugfoot

Main image: Mountains photographed on a smartphone (Shutterstock)