Five Tips For Better Cell Phone Photography

All the pictures in this article were taken with cell phone cameras.

All the pictures in this article were taken with cell phone cameras.

I have to admit the first time I heard about cameras in cell phones I reacted with distaste bordering on contempt. It was at least somewhat justified early on, when cellphone cameras were terrible. Those objections ring hollow today when some phones sport 8 megapixel cameras that take surprisingly good pictures. I made my peace with the new technology, even seeing some of my own cellphone pictures turn up in print.

Taking good cellphone photos is an art unto itself. Most phones lack an internal flash and sophisticated controls, which means you have to be a little creative sometimes to get the best results. If you can’t beat them, join them as the old saying goes, so stick with me after the jump for my cellphone shooting secrets.



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The Role of Framing In Photography

In this image the buildings in the background serve as the frame.

In this image the buildings in the background serve as the frame.

Ever look at a picture frame and wonder what’s the point? I do that all the time. What’s the purpose of a picture frame? I’ve thought about it a long time and came up with a few ideas. A frame is partly decorative; it not only holds the picture upright, the frame itself kind of dresses up the space a bit. Frames are also sort of an automatic crop function. They’ll hide large sections of photos and emphasize what’s in the middle. That can be a real problem for me because I tend to crop in the camera, which can be a bad habit if you’re shooting for someone else. They may crop differently than you do. It can also cause problems with some frames, so frame photos need to be shot and cropped a little differently than shots that are going to be printed edge to edge.

You also need to shoot a little wider for photos that are going to a graphic artist for modification or inclusion into a poster or advertising material. They’ll do any cropping and framing that’s necessary, you just make sure to give them some space to work. Stick with me after the jump for more thoughts on framing.



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Three Photography Tricks Every New Photographer Should Know

Using a polarizer will enhance colors and increase contrast.

Using a polarizer will enhance colors and increase contrast.

There are many elements that go into quality photography. A few of the things on that list can be handled by the camera’s computer, which is quite an amazing device. Most of the hard stuff has to come from you, the operator. When it comes to framing and timing the shot, that’s all you. You also have to know how to trick the computer and sensor when you want a particular effect that falls outside the camera’s neatly programmed optimum exposure levels.

There are really three big things you need to know right off. Stick with me after the jump to learn what they are.



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4 Habits of Great Photographers

Great photographers go overboard on lighting.

Great photographers go overboard on lighting.

The qualities that separate the good from the great in photography really aren’t that extreme anymore. Modern DSLRs are a marvel of technology; multi-point autofocus and sophisticated exposure calculations mean even basic cameras will deliver good results on Automatic settings.

Yet truly great photographers don’t use the Automatic settings on their cameras, no matter how sophisticated. Not too long ago great photographers would manually select the ISO and shoot all manual. Today even seasoned photographers are more likely to be using one of the helper modes like Program Mode, Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority where the camera and photographer share the exposure calculation duties. Stick with me after the jump for more habits of great photographers.



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Take Better Pictures Right Now

One of the keys to better photography is getting out and taking a lot of shots. Photo by Brynn

One of the keys to better photography is getting out and taking a lot of shots. Photo by Brynn

Photography is one of those skills that you can pick up in a short time but really does take a lifetime to master. The automatic settings on modern cameras will deliver perfectly acceptable if somewhat uninspiring photos without doing much more than pointing the camera and pushing the button.

While it’s not possible to condense 30 years of experience into one article, what is possible is to give you a few tips that will vastly improve your photography. Stick with me after the jump for four tips that will make you a better photographer until experience can make you a great one.


Working With Models

Working with models can be challenging for both parties in the dance of photography.  Photo by Flickr user Lies Thru a Lens

Working with models can be challenging for both parties in the dance of photography. Photo by Flickr user Lies Thru a Lens

There are few things in photography more frustrating than working with models. I can tell you, from experience, that the frustration runs both ways. One thing is for sure, there are a lot of unclear expectations in the relationship between photographer and model.

One area of disagreement is payment. Working models with an actual profile and work history, expect to be paid. Many photographers feel their skills and talent also have a certain dollar value attached to them and that models should be willing to work for free. Right there you can see the potential for misunderstanding. Stick with me after the jump for ways to avoid misunderstandings.



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Camera Bag Essentials

sling_bagAlmost all new photographers have a camera bag and almost all of them are too big. There are two basic types of shooting in photography: when you’ll be walking around and moving fast and a full blown production shoot. When you’re shooting in any kind of production environment you’re basically bringing the entirety of your gear along with you. For that kind of shooting you don’t want your gear stuffed in an oversized camera bag, you want it in hard cases with form-cut internal padding that can be stacked.

The other type of shooting is when you’re walking around shooting an event, street photography or otherwise just out taking pictures. For that type of shooting you don’t need to drag a closet full of photography gear around with you. Stick with me after the jump for what I consider the essentials for walking around photography.



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Does Your Camera Brand Matter Anymore?

sony_a7rFor years a staple of photography chat boards and forums was what camera brand to buy. A few years it ago that was an important decision. The camera brand you selected was likely to be the one you used for decades, maybe even your entire photography career.

It wasn’t so much the camera itself that determined brand loyalty, it was the lenses you picked to go with it. Camera bodies get replaced every three to five years but lenses can last for decades. Stick with me after the jump to find out why your camera brand no longer matters.


Photographs – Back Them Up Or Lose Them

2 TB drives like this one can be had for less than $100.

2 TB drives like this one can be had for less than $100.

In photography there are two types of photographers: Those who have lost pictures and those who are going to lose pictures.  Sometimes you can’t help it.  I once had a data card die in the middle of taking pictures at a news site.  Using data recovery tools I got some of the pictures back, many were just lost.

I’ve known many photographers, usually someone new to the business, who have lost months and years worth of work when their laptop drive failed. It’s one of those things that many don’t think about until they push the power button and nothing happens on their computer. Then there’s a moment of panic. Stick with me after the jump for a plan to backup your photos.



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Advertise Now For Summer Wedding Photography Business

Advertise now for summer wedding photography jobs.  Photo by  grotefendt

Advertise now for summer wedding photography jobs. Photo by grotefendt

If you’re a wedding photographer or wanting to break into the business, then these winter months are not your days of idle leisure, this is your time to book jobs for this summer.

Engagements tend to happen disproportionately around the holidays and it’s no accident that bridal fairs and mock weddings tend to happen over the winter months. Stick with me after the jump for four things you should be doing right now to book your summer wedding schedule.



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