Journalists are expected more and more to act as autonymous agents, combining roles of photographer, videographer and sound recorder. Using your smartphone to take photos saves a lot of money and time. 

hands smartphone taking photo festivalSmartphones are great for content making because they are portable | Splitshire

The pros and cons of smartphone photography
There are perks and drawbacks of using a smartphone to take photos for your story. They definitely are not as strong against the elements as DSLR cameras, the shutterspeed is slower and of course the lens is unchangeable.

Having said all this, it is still possible for you to take great photos to compliment the content you are creating. Think of the positives – The camera makes no noise, is easy to operate, makes for easy file transferring and makes people react differently to if you took the photos on a more conspicuous camera. These days smartphone cameras can shoot in high definition, self time and take bursts of images to help you capture action shots.

So what are the essentials I need to know for taking great photos on my smartphone? 

ArtTutor GridPicImage broken up into thirds | CMTO

1. Know the rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is the most well known composition tool which extends from modern photography to ancient paintings. Adhering or at least keeping in mind the rule of thirds will help you create more visually appealing images using your smartphone. There are free apps out there like 1618_View which gives you a grid on your screen to help you out! 

2. Take Bursts for Action Shots 
If you’re trying to capture movement say for a story on a sportsperson, hold down the capture photo button on your smartphone to gain a number of shots that stay in focus.

3. Stabilize yourself to get a clear image
There’s nothing worse than taking a blurry photo. Give your picture a professional edge by leaning on an object to take the photo or by placing your smartphone on a stable surface to snap a photo


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174px Eye disease simulation normal visionBlurry image vs clear image | National Eye Institute via Wikipedia 


4. Get creative with the selfie stick
It can be used for other things than taking selfies – they even used one in the filming of The Walking Dead! 

5. The more photos you take the more succesful shots you’ll get
This one is a no-brainer. Take as many photos as you can of the same thing so you have more to work with. Try taking photos using different angles and focal points 

 6. Use perspective to your advantage

Untitled design 3Close Up, Mid shot and long shot to show perspective | Pixabay

One thing your smartphone gives you is the ability to take photos from all angles and heights. Don’t be afraid to get right down on the ground to take a picture but remember to have in mind what you’re trying to say with it.

7. Apps
There are hundreds of apps out there that are there for your disposal. Depending on your budget, there are a number of free and paid apps varying in degrees of professionality that you can use to edit the lighting, contrast, cropping of your image and even add filters to it depending on what you’re using it for.

8. Have a look at how others have done it
How’s this for some inspiration. Check out these photos taken on an iPhone 6.
Michael Christopher Brown is a famous photographer known for his breathtaking iPhone photos.

9. Know the basics of photo editing on your smartphone 
Every smartphone has an in-built photo editing app which allows you to crop, lighten, darken and enhance your image in different ways. It’s important to get to know this and become comfortable with the software. Read another article we wrote on photo editing basics

Happy snapping!

Read an extensive guide to smartphone photography.
More information about the rule of thirds.

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