Mobile photography tips from influencer photographers
Last Updated on 6th March 2021
Recently I met up with some of the UK’s top photography influencers to pick up their mobile photography tips. This was part of the #ThreeGallery mobile photography event organised by Traverse and we were able to choose from 5 different workshops, lead by:
- Kim Leuenberger at London Bridge
- Tom Archer at the London Eye
- A Lady in London’s Julie Falconer in Kensington
- Sean Byrne in Leadenhall Market
- Londonviewpoint’s Michal Thomas along The Southbank.
I decided to see what Kim, Tom and Sean could teach me. As it happened – quite a lot! There’s more to mobile photography than meets the eye! First up was Kim along the Southbank past the London Bridge area showing us all how to use the Samsung Galaxy S9+.
Kim’s top mobile photography tips!
- Put the Samsung S9+ camera into ‘Pro’ mode
This gives you all the ISO, focus, exposure, white balance and shutter speed settings.
- Slightly underexpose your images
Either by speeding up the shutter speed or setting the exposure to -1.0. This gives you more opportunity to bring out darker colours when editing later.
- Shoot better in low light
Boost up the ISO (a higher number) and move the aperture down (a lower number).
- Keep it simple
Use contrasting colours and symmetry. A phone isn’t as powerful as a DSLR … yet .. so don’t try to get it to do things it can’t. Try to go for more subtle and minimal shots.
- Casual framed shots
Use a cool wall or doorway and face it straight on. Wait for someone to walk into your frame and capture them perfectly in the shot.
- Photo apps – download:
VSCO – Filter A6 always works giving a cool street vibe and analogue look.
Snapseed – the ‘selective’ and ‘healing’ tools are useful if some of your image is underexposed or items need to be removed.
Afterlight – with its great filters and control of colours.
Next up was Tom Archer. We met up opposite the Houses or Parliament to work through the phone’s various ‘Pro’ settings and to talk more about mobile photography in general.
Tom’s top mobile photography tips!
Use back light to make interesting silhouettes, especially at sunset. By increasing the white balance Kelvin number you can bring out more of the orange colour spectrum and make sunset shots more “sunsetty”!
Look for them in water, glass or anything shiny. It can create interesting compositions and just add something more appealing to your photo.
- The “rule of thirds”
Don’t put the subject into the middle of the shot. Place them a 1/3 in from the left or right … or a 1/3 in from the top or bottom.
- Leading Lines
Use lines and shapes to lead your eyes into the subject.
Try different perspectives, climb high, get down on the floor (tips I tried to use myself when photographing the Angel of the North in Gateshead.
- Download apps
As well as Snapseed and Lens Distortion, try Sunseeker. It shows you where the sun will be throughout the day so you can plan a shot.
- LightFront light – makes things look flat because of lack of shadows but does bring out the colours. Not flattering for portraits (remember that when visiting Madame Tussauds although you can’t get the waxworks to move!)Side light – gives more depth because of the shadows, gives much more interesting light and range of colours.Back light – gives the most depth in a photo. Creates a ‘rim light’ around subjects which makes them pop out from the background. Shield the camera from the direct sunlight (maybe by using their actual head).Fill light – the light that bounces back on a subject when you back light it. Remember to try and find reflectors to fill light back onto a subject or you can create your own ‘reflector’.
Finally we were lead around Leadenhall Market by Sean Byrne. It was Sean who taught me the sunburst F/22 technique in Menorca.
Sean’s top mobile photography tips!
- Download the Snapseed, VSCO, Lightroom and Lens Distortion apps
has a great setting under ‘Tune Image’ called ‘Ambience’ to gently change the lux of your photos. ‘Heal’ can carefully remove any imperfection or background person from the scene.
has a variety of filters to give your photos a consistent look on Instagram.
- Lens Distortion
can add realistic solar flares (+ fog, snow and rain) to your pictures. Just don’t try to bend the truth “too” much!
- The 3×3 grid
Turn on your camera’s 3×3 grid to aid in initial composition. This helps you to follows the “rule of thirds” mentioned above.
- Leading Lines
Another fan of using leading lines to draw your eye to an object in the distance.
- Compose the initial shot as best you can
Whereas you can get away with more cropping with a DSLR, mobile phones don’t have the resolution yet to leave you with an acceptable file size for subsequent printing.
- Turn on RAW
- So then your phone will store both a JPG and a RAW image. RAW images store much more detail which can be crucial when editing later.
Mobile photography in conclusion …
A lot of the mobile photography tips come straight from standard photography best practices, like the “rule of thirds”, leading lines and silhouetting. However the mobile photography specific tips appear to be considering your initial framing to reduce unnecessary cropping, keeping the imagery simpler, as well as using more of the various apps to really bring your camera phone photos to life.
The actual #ThreeGallery exhibition
The mobile photography workshops were all in aid of the #ThreeGallery project to have some of our work exhibited at the wonderful Herrick Gallery in Mayfair on 1st and 2nd August. Hopefully the 40 of us taking part in the project will have put the tips to good use. The new Samsung Galaxy S9+ certainly gave us extra options, especially the ‘Pro’ mode. You can find out more about the phone at Samsung S9+ at Three. Also check out a few more tips and photos from the Italian Trip Abroad.
You never know you might go viral on Instagram with one of your photos. Like I did with a photo of a guy riding a bike with Adidas trainers for tyres!
Buy some of my prints too!
I’m now selling some of my prints in my Biggsytravels Picfair Gallery 🙂 A few were taken on my Samsung S9+ smartphone while others were taken on my Fuji DLSR.Reading Time: 5 minutes
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Great tips! I love Snapseed and Lightroom! Use them all the time. Will check out Lens Distortion 👍🏼
Thanks Kasia – I used exactly zero of them before the workshops! 🙂 ‘Lens Distortion’ added the sun + sun flares in the Lloyd’s of London building shot. I love the fact you can add authentic-looking rain, snow and fog too
I use quite a few of them. Makes phone photography so much more fun