Memorial Day Travel Tip -- #2: Five Ways to Improve Your Camera Phone Pictures

Last week in Paris during our Photography Expedition, several of us used the cameras on our phone, in addition to our bigger cameras, to document our trip.

The photos we took with our phones aren’t necessarily saleable. But they’re great for memories and documenting details.

Here are five tips from professional photographer Shelly Perry on getting better pictures with your camera phone…

TIP 1: Be playful. Try some new and innovative ways of looking at your surroundings and the subjects you see there. Your phone camera is small, so you can shoot through small openings and get a vantage point not always possible with full-size lenses. Here are two pictures Shelly took with her phone in Paris…

getting better pictures with your camera phone

TIP 2: If you own an iPhone, play with some of the apps that are available. On this last trip, Shelly used a new app called Hipstamatic.

It allows you to pick from different “film types,” including black and white, as well as different lens effects. You can also add several types of “flashes” (even if your camera has no flash).

Apps like these tend to process your shots on the spot, enabling you to download the photos and use them right away. You can send them directly to your Facebook or Twitter page or send them to friends.  (The two pictures above were taken with Hipstamatic and that’s why they already look like they’ve been processed on the computer.)

TIP 3: Take multiple shots. Just as with your big camera, be sure to take multiple shots. Not every shot will be a keeper and sometimes you have to take several to get the one you want. Remember, you can always delete shots later, so be sure to take enough to get the best one.

TIP 4: Composition is key. And it’s even more important when it comes to your phone photos since you have no lenses, exposure controls, or other tools to work with (outside of apps if you own an iPhone).

Without all the bells and whistles to play with, you are forced to use nothing more than your composition. Sometimes that means getting in close to your subject and other times it means getting back a bit to get more. Just like with your big camera, try to get the important elements in the shot and eliminate the distractions.

Notice in this camera phone shot that the Eiffel Tower is on a Thirds Line (taken with an iPhone using Hipstamatic):

TIP 5: Document. Your camera phone is great for documenting -- you can shoot street signs, restaurant logos or menus -- anything that will provide useful information to you later. For instance, if you want to write an article and remember the restaurant name and location, and even what’s on the menu, a quick shot from your phone can provide the details without having to pull out a pad and paper. You might also find it helpful to write descriptions for your stock photos.

“While I still love to shoot with my big camera -- and have to if I want to sell the photos I take,” Shelly told me, “what I love most about my phone camera is that it puts the magic of photography back into the mix. Using my composition and the apps together sometimes produces surprising results, ones that I find mysterious and magical.”

So, on your next trip, pull out your phone, get playful, take lots of shots, practice your composition, document, have fun, and let the magic of phone photography inform and inspire you.

-- Lori

Lori Allen
Director, Great Escape Publishing

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]