Five Lessons from My Smartphone Photography Class

Last weekend, I taught an awesome group of students at In Bocca al Lupo Fine Art all my secrets about taking quality photos with the iPhone.

While smartphone photos can't replace a professional photographer (who are worth every penny!), you can get a whole lot more out of your phone than most people realize. I thought I would share the five most useful concepts that came out of that workshop that you can use today to up your iPhone photography game today. 

1. Move your body.

This is a no-brainer, but it's easy to forget that we can physically reposition ourselves to compose a better picture, avoid shadows, and improve composition. 

Bonus: Moving your body helps you see your subject from a new perspective--you may find something you wouldn't have seen otherwise. 

2. Improve your lighting.

Lighting is probably my biggest struggle when it comes to photography. Oregon is gray much of the year and I live in an older house with not-great lighting. Clip lamps like this one and some wax paper to diffuse the light are your best friends when it comes to shining a light on people and objects.

Avoid that nasty built-in phone flash! 

3. Have fun with apps. 

App developers are constantly creating fun apps that are ripe for using to create unusual and surprising showcases of your work. I've had loads of fun using Hyperlapse (time lapse video), Flipagram (slideshows), VSCO Cam (filters and more), PicStitch and my beloved Camera+ to create distinctive images of my work and life that I use on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves, this website, on clients' sites, Facebook, and--of course--Instagram.

Don't be afraid to play!

4. Create your own stock photo library. 

I constantly pull out my iPhone and snap photos (always with Camera+) that I file away as potentially useful for illustrating blog posts, for website banners, or as solid generic imagery. Over time, I've built up a pretty solid mini-library of my own stock images, so I always have an image when I need one. 

Pro-tip: Give your photos clear, descriptive names so you can easily find them a year from now. 

5. #showyourwork

This is a big one, you guys. It's easy to document finished projects, but don't be shy about showing work in progress, your failures, and a look behind the scenes of your work. This is your chance to show personality and your point of view.

For more on the notion of "Show Your Work," pick up a copy of Austin Kleon's fabulous book of the same name.

While my smartphone photography class is over, there is still room in my Digital Storytelling: Instagram class, while builds on many of these concepts. If you're in the Portland metro area, register by clicking the button below.