Smartphone Photography for Bloggers

This 613U mini-course is intended to help you hone your skills as a citizen journalist. Get a quick introduction to the topic by watching the video. Next, checkout our list of suggested resources to learn more about techniques or tools. Share any questions or comments in the forum section, or better yet pass along other ideas or resources of your own. We hope you get inspired to try something new.


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A smartphone is the Swiss Army Knife of the photographer. Part phone, part encyclopedia, part recorder and increasingly a high megapixel option for photography. Below are a few tips to get started on mobile photography.


Tip 1: Learn about your Phone

Smartphones have many options and capabilities, many of which you might not bother to learn about until you start to take your photography more seriously.  While your phone will adjust focus and exposure automatically, you can also adjust these settings manually. Turn on your camera’s grid to help set up your composition (more on that below). Ultimately, the point is to get to know your phone. Play with the settings, test it out in low light and bright light, and see what gives you good results.


Tip 2: Think about Lighting

If you’re taking photos to accompany your blog post, or if you are aiming to do a photo blog, look for the best available location. The outdoors, with its natural light, trumps indoor locations. However, if you must shoot indoors, remember to never backlight your subject or else you’ll get a big shadow. Find a nice big window, that has directional light, like this. Below are a few videos to help you learn more about lighting.



Tip 3: Think about Composition 

Composition is how you set up the shot. There are a few recognized guidelines for creating interesting photography. One of the most important is the rule of thirds. Imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have nine parts (this is where the grid lines on your phone can come in handy). The rule of thirds says that if you place points of interest in the intersections, i.e. along the lines your photo will be more balanced and will enable a viewer to interact with it more naturally. Many studies have shown that people’s eyes focus more naturally on intersection points rather than the center of the shot.

For more tips on composition, watch the video below or check out this article.


Tip 4: Keep moving

Interesting photos can come at different angles so keep moving. Try taking a photo from the top, from below, from close or further away from your subject.


Tip 5: Editing

Smartphones come with varying levels of sophistication when it comes to photo editing software. However, App stores will give you access to thousands of photo editing apps, many of which are free. These apps can be downloaded to your phone and used to make whatever changes you wish to your photos. Here again, it might be worth investing a few dollars to get a good editing app. Some of the ones we prefer using right now are ProCamera and Camera+.

Tips for Special Cases

Below are a few videos on special situations that bloggers often come across: food photography and portraits.

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