Phoneography 101: how to take good photos with your phone

The advent of smart technology has changed our lives, including how we communicate. Now, no matter where we go, we’ve got our phones with us; along with its built-in high-tech digital camera that shoots like a DSLR. The cam-phone’s most distinct feature: it allows instant-sharing in social media.

Photo sharing patterns have also evolved through the years. We are no longer limited to personal albums and wallet photos. With the possibility of many people seeing our photographs in real-time, the elements of knowing good “phoneography” are important.

I interviewed Marichi Tan of Tanchi photos to ask for basic tips. She took the newborn pictures of my youngest child and other party photos like baptism and birthdays. And since she is one of the few women photographers in action here in Cagayan De Oro, she has also done specialty pregnancy and boudoir shoots (sexy photos), aside from the usual wedding and family portraits.

One of Mai’s specialties is boudoir photography. In this test shot, she wanted to see how well the room’s existing ambient light will translate on screen. Her light sources were indoor light and light coming from the nearby window.

She narrated, “I started my photography business in 2010, but it was not full-time because my kids were still small. What helped me hone my skills was actually my iPhone. I practiced with it daily. My Canon was too bulky and heavy for everyday use.” Being an avid phone-ographer for many years, below are her tips on taking quality phone pictures:

Take advantage of light

“I always see to it that I have good lighting. Nothing beats warm natural light,” she shared. “Of course we also have to take advantage of ambient lighting.” She explained the latter pertains to light that is already present at the scene. It can refer to natural light coming from the outdoors, like thru a window; it can also refer to existing artificial lights, such as normal room lights. Even in the dark, there are still opportunities to play with shadows. She said, “A good picture will always have some sort of glow coming from good lighting.”

Playing with lights and shadows at the XU campus

Keep it simple to make subjects stand out

Posed photos can be great for the sake of keeping track of memories. Focus on just the subjects to make them stand-out. All of us need to document happy moments with family and friends. Her advice: “Take as many photos as possible. Use the phone’s burst shot feature to ensure you won’t miss a single thing.”

When people travel, she noted that group photos are common; also shots of landmarks. She said it is important to first enjoy the place, before snapping up a thousand pictures of the setting because: “Enjoying the place first will stir emotion in you. By the time you take that photo, those feelings will translate into your picture. Basta, always be sharp and be ready to shoot.”

Mai’s iphone test shot during my son’s newborn pictorial

Candid shots are great

Don’t overlook the power of candid shots! Candids capture the real emotion and essence of a particular moment, making the viewers feel more for the photos. “Minsan, timing din yan. And pure luck!” Mai shared. “When you get that kind of shot, it feels good because you know you’ve succeeded in your mission.” Similar to capturing posed-photos, just take as many as possible. That way, there’s more to choose from.

Make use of space

Be aware of the areas surrounding the subjects. “Sometimes, you can play with empty space to make your subject stand out more,” Mai said. “Space can also refer to a large expanse of area. Examples are a large wall, an empty field, or even the sky.” Use space to your advantage! Find a good angle Play around with camera angles because the standard eye-level is not the only one. “Taking a shot from an unusual angle sometimes create a more impressive photograph. Example, shooting from a sitting position gives an illusion of height or depth. Shooting naman from the top, or what we call a bird’s eye view, also gives a different perspective. Basta, don’t be afraid to experiment because you can always delete,” she emphasized.

Making use of blank space to shoot Miss MOGCHS

Focus on details

Sometimes, it is all about the tiny little details. She explained, “In wedding photography, we have to get close to the rings to capture the sparkle of the tiny diamonds. Pro-cams have what you call macro. That is not built-in a camera phone. So you may have to get literally closer.” Close-up images mean capturing the intricate qualities. Keep an eye out for interesting textures, patterns, and reflections.

Mai’s close-up shot of random fauna that caught her attention

External accessories

An enthusiast might want to invest in accessories. She assured, “It is okay to take advantage of external photo accessories such as a macro lens for details, a fish eye lens for taking depth, and a ring light for better lighting in the dark.” Technology really makes everything easy for people!

No shame in editing apps

She mentioned there are so many apps to enhance photos these days like Beauty Plus, Snapseed, or even Instagram. She noted there is no shame in enhancing photos for personal use, especially those for FB and photobooks. She reminded, “But don’t go overboard ha. Minsan, if over-processed, the pic will already look fake or too grainy.”

In summary, she noted that the most important quality is passion, confidence, and faith in your own self. Just keep on shooting! Mai emphasized, “Practice is the best teacher. Don’t be ashamed to take your own selfies either. When you are comfortable shooting yourself, that’s when you can take really good photos of other people.” For more information on Marichi Paredes-Tan of Tanchi Photography, please call 0915-282-8439 or check her FB: “Tan chi photos”. Snap! Snap! Happy shooting!

(First out in Sunstar Online, May21 and Printed on the Front Page of Sunstar CDO, May 22)



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