Advice Clinic

5 Ways to Get The Most Out of Your Phone Camera

2nd September 2020

As up and coming musicians, you’re going to need some decent band photos. And as much as those photos of you on stage are great, when submitting a press release, you’re going to need some decent press shots!

Now, that doesn’t mean you need to find a local photographer and spend a chunk of cash on getting something – especially when you’re just getting your foot in the door. Over the past 10+ years, the cameras on our phones have gotten better and better. As someone who has practised photography for over half their life, a few of my best photos have actually come from my phone and not my DSLR.

So, here are my tips for getting the most out of your phone camera.

1) Don’t always trust the auto-exposure

I don’t mean going into the manual settings, and getting your head around ISO and F-stops if your phone has that option. When you’re taking the photo, have a play around with where the photo’s main exposure is. The camera will always make sure the focus is fully exposed, but it’s okay to play around with that sometimes.

2) And whilst we’re talking about exposure, let’s talk about lighting…

I’m not the biggest fan of using the flash, but this could be part of your aesthetic, so play around. I am always for the power of a simple desk lamp if you’re doing a closer portrait, and like with the exposure, you can play with the positioning to create different effects.

I’m also a big advocate for natural light, but try and avoid the midday sun as it’s often too bright and you’ll be squinting! Obviously, everyone knows the beauty of golden hour, but I am a big fan of shooting in the early morning light. Yes, it means waking up early, but if you’re on location it’s more likely to be quiet, and I often find it a softer light that you can then do more with.

3) When to use filters, and when not

Filters can be great, but I would always recommend using them sparingly unless you’re going for a particular vibe. Also, the filter doesn’t always need to be on full – have a play around with making it a bit more subtle.

Also, look at other changes you can make like saturation, brightness and contrast – most phones have the power to do this, or you can download editing apps! Even on my phone photos, I will make even the slightest adjustments just to make them pop.

4) Think about your background

We all do it. We take a photo and then when we look at it later, and there’s something in the background we wish wasn’t there. So always scope the area. If you’re in a public space, remove any litter and double-check for anything that you don’t want in the photo.

5) Rotate that camera

Take shots in landscape and portrait. When you’re submitting to magazines and websites, they’re going to have constraints of their site – so by giving the options of a landscape and a portrait shot, they’re going to be able to make it work better.

My final tips:

  • Have a think about what you want to achieve from these photos; what the persona you want to show is. It’s so much easier to get some good photographs when you know what you want to achieve
  • But that being said, have a play around, and know you won’t always get the shot right away, or at all! The number of times I haven’t got the photo I thought I was going to take, but I played around and got something better
  • If you don’t have someone to take the photo for you, self-timer is always an option
  • Ask for help! If you’re not sure you like the photos you’ve taken, show your friends, and they may even be able to help you out
  • You can do more because you’re not paying for anyone’s time
  • I may have said use filters sparingly, but also I love the HUJI app, and buying the Pro version is the best 79p I’ve ever spent