There is nothing more rewarding than being able to use mobile photography to capture life’s moments. I love that my smartphone camera is so lightweight and easy to use, and that I can pick it up and put it down in an instant. I’ve captured so many moments with mobile photography that I wouldn’t have been able to catch with my DSLR. Moments happen in seconds and it takes time to get out my DSLR, adjust the settings and click. Using my smartphone allows me to stay present in the moment and get the shot.
Here are three times I love to use mobile photography instead of my DSLR:
1. Street Photography
My passion is street photography. It’s a kind of meditation for me to wander around the city on Sundays and capture life on the streets.
I especially love photographing tourists. It’s fun to capture my beautiful city through their eyes while they are busy being amazed by the views. If you want to observe people, go to places where tourists go and watch them interact. Including humans in your photographs helps tell the whole story.
I also love capturing life through the passenger-side car window. If I see something interesting outside, I try to photograph it creatively. One way to do this is by shooting through interesting weather conditions, like a foggy window or rain.
Experiment with shutter speeds to capture the motion of humans walking by or cars driving. Try an app like ProCamera to give you more control over your mobile camera settings.
2. Travel photography
I’ve captured some of my favorite travel images using mobile photography. On shorter trips, I normally just leave my Nikon DSLR at home and use my iPhone instead. I love finding strong patterns and dramatic lightning, and I always look for architectural features or people on the street that shows a sense of the scene in each of my images. Train stations are hidden gems full of details and people to photograph.
On longer trips, where I do want to bring my DSLR, I use my phone to download images from my Nikon (using Nikon WMU app) and edit them on the phone before I post them to Instagram or Facebook.
I highly recommend getting comfortable with your phone camera by taking it with you on your next trip and leaving the big camera at the hotel for a day. Really observe your surroundings. Use your phone to capture moments as you would your DSLR. Capture colors, sunsets, houses, people and your family. Remember that the rules of exposure, lighting and composition apply with any camera.
One limitation to using mobile photography for travel photos is having less control over depth of field. This doesn’t bother me at all because I love to have everything in focus, especially when I’m capturing a street scene. But, if you do want to draw a focal point out of your image using background blur, you can always use an editing app, like Snapseed.
3. Underwater photography
I bought an underwater case for my iPhone 6s and took it with me on vacation to Spain. I couldn’t believe the amazing images I could capture underwater with my phone! And the smaller size of the waterproof case is so much easier for travel than a large underwater housing for a DSLR camera.
What I really love is to create underwater videos in the swimming pool. I highly recommend finding the right waterproof case and trying this out on your next family vacation.
Make sure your waterproof phone case doesn’t leak! I do this by filling a sink with water, putting the case in the sink and leaving it for 30 minutes. If it’s dry inside, I know it isn’t going to leak and will be safe to use in the pool.
7 Pro tips for mobile photography
1. Always clean your lens. Phone lenses are not protected so they tend to get very dirty. Always have a lens cloth with you and clean the lens regularly. Make sure there’s nothing in your bag or your pocket that could ruin your lens, like keys, coins or any object that can scratch it.
2. Angles and colors are eye candy in a frame. I use many angles when I’m out shooting with my mobile phone. One of my favorites is shooting from above. Sometimes my shoes will even be my subject! Whatever captures my attention — on the ground, on a table or in the world around me — I’ll grab my phone and find a creative angle. Colors help bring the moment to life.
3. Don’t be afraid of low-light. I never use the flash in any of my mobile photography, so finding the right light is essential. Low light photos may be grainy, but it’s forgivable. Sometimes converting to black and white helps.
4. Use an app that allows you to control your camera settings. This will help you with difficult lighting situations and can help you achieve the creative effects you want to create. I use ProCamera because it allows me to shoot in RAW.
5. Less is more in editing. I use Snapseed to edit my photos because with this app I can adjust white balance, curves, rotate an image or perspective, adjust contrast, add or remove grain and convert to black and white. I can’t praise this app enough. Keep it simple.
6. Stay true to your style and voice. All of my images represent my voice. Whether I use my DSLR or my phone, I would publish the images to my Instagram feed or Facebook page. I am on my second year of a 365 project and I blend mobile images with my other photos everyday.
7. Think like a photographer. What makes a great image is always the same — exposure, lighting and composition — no matter if you are using your big camera or your phone.
Use a macro lens for mobile photography to give yourself a creative push.
I don’t have a macro lens for my DSLR, so when I want to capture flowers or subjects up close, I use my phone. I have the Olloclip Essential Lenses, which includes a fisheye, super-wide and macro lens. The macro lens helps me make amazing images. I always carry my extended lenses in my purse, and if the light is right and the subject is beautiful, I can take macro images anywhere. I like to look for flowers and colors to capture with my macro lens when I’m traveling or doing street photography.
Up your Instagram game.
I always post on Instagram at least once a day, no matter if I am traveling or at home. I never use Instagram filters for editing, but I always press the sun above the image (it’s called LUX), which automatically pushes the slider to 50. Then I move the slider until I’m happy with the look.
I use the Whitagram app before I post each image. I’ve fallen in love with putting a frame around my Instagram images to give them a bit more character and make them more professional looking. Images are more likely not to get published on hubs when using frames, but if that doesn’t bother you, try it out!
Here are a few of my favorite Instagram feeds:
And, you can find me here: @irisbergmann_photography.
Photos by Iris Bergmann