Casual Photography with Smartphones

As time goes by, taking photos becomes more and more convenient  Today, almost any electronic device you buy comes with a camera and it becomes unlikely that you ever find yourself without one. Of course, in front of a great opportunity you may sometimes feel that you do not have the proper tools. If you just have your cell phone, you may wish you had your DSLR or a better camera in general. Still, you have something with you and can take that shot.

Is there really any proper tool anyway?

"Untitled" captured by Michele Sizemore. (Click image to see more from Michele Sizemore.)

“Untitled” captured by Michele Sizemore

Some great photographers in the past used cameras that were much worse than what your bad cell phone camera can provide you with. Did they take bad pictures? On the contrary, their pictures survived until today.

If you have a smartphone, you have probably noticed many new photography applications pop up every day. Some are good, others useless. The trend seems to be the possibility to add a vintage look to your pictures. For some it will do the trick. If you are serious about photography you may feel limited, though. But, creativity is all about how you can do something different within a frame of rules and limits. Why not limit yourself sometimes to see what you can do?

Instead of focusing on the limiting aspects, consider the advantages:

  • Always available
  • Easy to share
  • No backache at the end of the day
  • Enables you to practice

If you want to do the same thing you do with better, heavier, more expensive gear, you may be disappointed. If, however, you find a new way to play within the limits of the device, then you are getting out of your comfort zone and getting creative.

If you’re using an Apple or Android phone you may want to give a look to applications such as Camera+ or Instagram. While Instagram is indeed limiting–only has presets for processing and only enables you to take square pictures–it can still help to improve your photography. Consider how much stronger the impact of symmetry is when using the square format. Learn the rule of thirds and break it. The square format is quite demanding about composition, but if you are trying to improve your skills, this is only for the better.

"Tennis Anyone?" captured by Jason Zahariades. (Click image to see more from Jason Zahariades.)

“Tennis Anyone?” captured by Jason Zahariades

If you do not have access to your camera phone but are carrying a different type of device such as an mp3 player, tablet, or handheld gaming device, chances are it, too, has a camera. Recently I have been using an iPod touch to take a few pictures. At first I felt it was very bad, the camera has a definition of 0.7Mpx and terrible dynamic range. Yet, I always have it with me and it made it very easy to take pictures everywhere. I may not shoot a fashion shot with it (though some people have done fashion shoots or music videos with an iPhone), but I can get around the bad definition with panoramas, or focus on patterns, or contrast. In the end it is all about expressing things; it’s just the means that are different.

About the Author
Thibaut Fantian is a landscape and portrait photographer currently based in Kyoto, Japan. His work and services are available online at Frame Away aims at providing pure photographs for your vision.

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