Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Secret sauce for taking great photos with a phone

It's true. I use my iPhone to take almost all my photos. Why? Because if you learn NOTHING from this post except one thing, let it be this:

The best camera you have is the one you have with you.

And the one I always have with me is my iPhone.

I laugh at the tourists in Paris that have giant cameras slung around their necks. Yes, these giant cameras can take great photos, but they are heavy and after 8 hours of winding through this medieval town, even carrying a few extra coins starts to get heavy. So the next day, they leave their camera at the hotel. And that's that.

These days, there are so many great apps for smart phones that regular pedestrian photos can be turned into great shots. Sure, you can't zoom in like you can with the big fancy cameras. And the resolution is crap if you plan on printing your photo bigger than 8 x 10. But seriously, how many photos will you print? Let's be real.

I say, print something that will look good with what you've got. Print a series of small photos that work well as a collection like my new favorite Paris photographer, Nichole Roberston of the blog Little Brown Pen, author of Paris in Color and The Paris Print Shop on Etsy.
She is a pro photographer with a pro camera. But you can make stunning small size prints with your iPhone shots, too. More info on this photo.

This is how I create pretty shots with my iPhone.
  1. Take photos with the regular ol' Camera app that came with the phone. It tends to load faster than other camera apps.
  2. Import the photos into the Camera+ app and edit. Some people swear by taking photos in Camera+ because there are other fun tricks, but I like the speed of the regular Camera app.
  3. Save the photo in the regular Camera app to import it later into your computer. You can also post to Facebook and Twitter from Camera+ but I like to have all my final photos in one place and that place is my Camera app and later my iPhotos library.
(These tips were provided by my friend Chris O who is a photo-taking wizard.)

Optional collage options:
  1. For collages made on my phone, I use a photo collage app aptly called Photo Collage.
  2. For collages made on the computer after I've imported the photos, I use a website called Pixlr.
Enough instruction. Let's see this method in action.
Before
After
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After
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After
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After
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Before
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After
Of course, photo taking is always more about the eye of the photographer than the lens of the camera. And it's also about taking a slew of photos. Taking many photos of the same thing is key. A slightly different angle can make all the difference between regular and awesomesauce. For example:

Regular.
Regular.
Regular.
Awesomesauce.
This may seem like a lot of work. All these steps. But the method is easier than you may think. I tend to walk around Paris and snap shots with the regular Camera app on my phone. Later, when waiting for the movie to start, the train to arrive, the coffee to brew, I whip out my camera and import a few photos into Camera + or Photo Collage. After a week of fiddling with my photos on and off, I import the slew of them into my iPhoto library and start fresh for the next week.

Go forth, young Jedi. May the camera be with you.

9 comments:

  1. This is a great post Janice! Thanks for the tips! You're right. Just like most people I don't carry a camera with me all the time but I have my iPhone. I will install the apps you suggested ... let's work some magic! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice! It's actually fun to make a so-so photo look post-worthy. Makes me feel like a pro.

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  2. Fantastic tips! I've just looked through Paris in Color (thanks to your recommendation) and I am very inspired! We are planning a walk this weekend through downtown Toronto and I'm going to start taking these concept photos (with my iphone!). cheers, thanks for the blog, it breaks up my day at work as always! Keep writing!

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    Replies
    1. I love Toronto. I lived there during some of my days as an advertising copywriter. Inspiration seeps up through the cracks in the sidewalks.

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  3. Huh. I have the Camera+ app but I don't use it because I can't figure out how to import photos from my regular iPhone camera into it...

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    Replies
    1. Mandy Fish, I understand. This is what you have to do. You need to update your Camera+ app. Then once that happens, click on the icon and go to the image library (the opposite of taking-photos mode). In the top right corner will be a + sign. Click it and it goes to your Camera library. Then you can grab your photos and edit at will.

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  4. I am smartphonelly challenged. This is my year for an iPhone, but I don't have it yet...

    Methinks maybe your Etsy store should expand to include some of your photography!

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    Replies
    1. I understand. I just recently learned how to make pages on my blog. Why did THAT take so long? Super easy. And if you mess up with your iPhone (once you get one), hand it to a kid. They seem to be fearless and talented with them. They don't have technology scars like the rest of us.

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  5. Dear Sir, I am installing camera+ right now as you suggested. Is this where you make all of your cool color and filtery things as well? You're cool. So are your photos.

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