How to take professional photos with a phone camera

How to take professional looking photos with your phone at festivals

1st October 2018 Off By

Few things can be as memorable a memento from a festival as an awesome photo.

Many of us were first drawn to these events after seeing some cool pictures and wanting to be there ourselves, and now with how widespread the smartphones are and how developed, their cameras have become we take more photos than ever before in human history.

But those photos don’t have to look like amateur work. Be it just for memories, for social media, or to launch your professional career, here are some phone photography tips to help you make the most of phone’s camera:

Select a Venue

The background of your photo determines the beauty of it all. There are different nice places to take photos at a festival.

Of course being right next to the scene might seem like the best one, but you can create great and powerful images when you’re able to catch the whole crowd or even focus on a single outstanding person with a rightfully chosen background.

If it’s a lively event the conditions might be changing rapidly and you won’t be able to organize a situation, so you’ll have to be quick on your toes and take the opportunities as they arise.

With time you will develop an instinct for good photo opportunities, but until then it’s better to take a dozen poor photos just to have one good among them. After all, you don’t have to worry about running out of film.

Use Gridlines to Ensure a Balanced Shot

Gridlines are supposed to be placed on the points of interest. This is according to the rule of thirds which states that a photo should be divided into 3 parts. This makes it clearer and there you’ll definitely have a great photo.

This also helps you to keep the horizon straight. While sometimes you might feel artsy and think of making a photo at an unusual angle, 9 times out of 10 they end up worse than you think they would.

Invest in a Phone With a Good Camera

When buying a phone, it’s nice to check the specifications and select one that has the best camera. Some phones, such as the Hauwai P20 Pro below, have cameras with up to 40 megapixels. Some other phones with great cameras include the Samsung Galaxy S9 and iPhone X.

These phones take very clear photos, making your everyday pics look professional. And the battery life of your phone might seem important, but for that you can just bring a portable charger.

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Focus on One Thing

For you to take a nice picture, focus on one main object and ensure that it’s clear. It sounds weird, but in a real sense, when your main focus is captured correctly, all other objects on the photo are also clear. Use filters and adjust the brightness to your liking.

Having a focus point even applies to taking pictures of groups or landscape photos. If you’re capturing the whole band in the image, one member might be the focus point.

If you’re taking a photo of the crowd, maybe there’s a special group or a person to serve as a focus, or you can treat the centre of the crowd as one.

Positioning is Very Important

While being in a crowd might restrict your ability to move around, the positioning is still very important. If you want to take better pictures, you might have to look around and seek better angles or less crowded spots.

While looking for a better position, keep the future photo composition in mind.

Safety First

But keep in mind a few safety tips. Trying to climb on something that shouldn’t be climbed is a very bad idea. Not only is it dangerous, but also extremely selfish – while taking great photos is your own interest, any accident that happens will affect everyone else.

On that note, if there’s a metal band playing and you suddenly find yourself in the middle of an empty space and the crowd has cleared out to the sides this doesn’t mean you have a good chance to take a photo.

This means you’re about to be in a middle of a mosh pit and really should get out unless you’re up for some rough fun, but you won’t be able to take photos either way.

How to take professional photos with a phone camera
Image credit: Wendy Wei

Tell a Story

Everyone appreciates a well-told story. Even if you’re not the perfect photographer, at least ensure that you tell a story that people will understand and can relate to.

Having a story, an idea or a strong emotion behind a picture is what separates art from mundane pictures. So when you’re taking a photo, you should think what do you want to convey.

Request to Take Photos of People

There are a lot of cool people at festivals and not just the artists. But while people on stage are performing publicly and are ok with their pictures being taken by default, not everyone is.

Asking permission is not just good manners, but just common sense. If you took someone’s picture at an opportune and awesome moment, you should approach them later and ask if they’re ok with it.

Also, some festivals have specific rules about photography. Those do in fact apply to your private photos taken with your phone just for yourself, so you should follow them.

Try Color Blocking

This is done when you intend to make one of the objects to stand out. For this kind of editing, you can use an app such as Touch Colour which turns a whole photo into black and white but leaves out a part of your choice.

This makes your photo unique and beautiful. This phone photographic tip is tried and tested.

Be Careful With The Digital Zoom

If you’re far away from something you want to take a picture of – for example, the stage – you might think it’s a good idea to use the zoom to get a better image.

But if you’re using the digital zoom of your phone this will result in a blurry picture, as your phone will just digitally enlarge the image, decreasing the resolution.

If you foresee yourself needing to zoom in with your phone you can buy an accessory lens with optical zoom.

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Be Polite

While not directly related to the photos, it is still a very important rule. A festival is a social event and wanting to take good photos doesn’t give you a special position.

Don’t be a person who’s always standing with their hands and their phone up in the air, blocking the view of people behind you in the crowd.

Don’t inconvenience other people while moving around looking for the best position for taking a photo.

The additional difficulties caused by the people around you is your personal challenge, not a public issue. Overcoming challenges can be fun, but causing problems isn’t.

Conclusion

Taking great photos is important for many reasons –you get to keep your precious memories and maintain your social media image.

We hope these beginners photography tips help you get the photos you want.

Main image credit: Wendy Wei

This article is a guest contribution to TheFestivals. The author’s name and a link to their other contributions is shown at the beginning of the article.

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