Many people think that they can achieve stunning photographs just by investing in expensive gear. It’s true that a high-quality camera can help you take pictures in any situation and lighting conditions. It’s also true that image resolution and quality are influenced by the gear you use. But it’s also true that you can use a phone camera to take amazing pictures.
Some of the greatest photographers of all times (for example, Henri Cartier-Bresson who used only a 50 mm Leica and took pictures only in black and white) had fantastic results with the simplest gear. So, how can you take photography to the next level using just a phone?
Master the composition
It’s more important to know how to “see” an image and how to compose a well-balanced photograph than having an expensive camera. You can start by using the basic composition rules and then break them to create unique compositions.
A good composition book is the best investment you can do to improve your photography skills. And knowledge will last longer than a cool lens. You can start with Michael Freeman’s book, The Photographer’s Eye. It will teach you how to see the potential of a scene. Having the phone camera with you all the time will help you take quick snapshots and practice on the go.
Learn from the masters
Finding inspiration usually comes with a lot of work. Visit art museums and galleries, travel, admire the beauty of nature, and study the work of the photographers you admire. Books like Photography: The Definitive Visual Story by Tom Ang will help you explore the history of photography.
In your inspirational journey, the phone can be a great help. The phone is small and you can hold it at any angle or position. The generous screen allows you to take photos behind you or from above the head. You can take pictures upside down or in diagonal. There’s almost no limit in taking pictures with a phone. Experience everything, have fun, and discover the freedom of expression.
Understand the limitations of the phone camera
A phone camera can’t deliver the same quality as a professional camera in several situations. Its limitations will make you learn and grow as a photographer. For example, most phone cameras don’t have good performances in low lighting conditions. ISO options are limited and you’ll get blurry and noisy images if try to shoot in the dark.
Another example is zooming, which in phone cameras is limited and relays on digital algorithms and not optical mechanisms. This means you won’t be able to photograph at distance. Wildlife photography is out of the question. Phone cameras have wide lenses, which is great for panoramas and landscapes but not so great for observing birds. Nevertheless, phone camera lenses have a very short focal distance so you can get really close to your subject and experience macro photography.
Phone cameras are useful tools for improving your photography style. They allow you to move and explore, without carrying heavy equipment. They come with many gadgets and accessories and allow you to edit and share your images instantly. In your learning process, phone cameras are a great support as you have many things to learn even from their limitations.
Cover photo by Maria Shanina on Unsplash