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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Making Mobile Phone Photography Look Like You Have a DSLR

This post should probably be called 'making your photos look as good as if you had a fancy pants expensive camera' but you know, I've made the image & doesn't it sound way more catchy this way?

Okay so in my opinion the most important step in making your photos look like you're using a fancy pants camera is the editing but I would like to say a word for background & composition. I feel sometimes that people who take their photos on their cameras forget that however good or bad your camera is, the photo is only as good as the subject :)
I collect paper & card with interesting prints & textures for backgrounds & I work really hard to put the products in interesting layouts. The more you practice the better you get at it but try to start with a few basic rules:
  • Odd numbers look best in photos
  • Diagonals look interesting in photos
  • Work your negative space (space with no subject in, don't fill the entire image)
  • Take A LOT of photos from A LOT of different angles
  • Try to get the best light possible
  • Clean the lens of your camera before you start
  • Never ever zoom your phone photos (unless you have physical zoom)

This is the photo I started off with, a trio of Ciaté mini polishes. It's obviously not a perfect photo, the edge of my background is visible & the colour needs correcting but it's not bad. I wouldn't put it up like this but I've made it as close to the way I wanted it as possible. It's pretty much where I start with all the photos I take on my DSLR, getting a photo as close as possible to the way I wanted it.
But that's why editing your pictures is so important & it's a surprisingly simple step.

This editing process was done on the Photoshop Express app (which is avaliable on both apple & android). The photoshop express app is very neat, offering cropping, straightening, filters - some of which cost - & a number of actions that are more common on the pc editing software I usually use, the most useful of which (reduce noise & defog) both cost extra (about £3).
Honestly the free features I found most helpful when editing were crop & straighten & sharpen, exposure & vibrance. The free filters weren't very pretty or subtle & the frames/edges were just plain ugly.

It wasn't difficult to use however & the final result was good. Pretty much what I'd have achieved using my DSLR & fancy editing software
If I am totally honest though, the app I have been LOVING is the afterlight app (recently launched on android). I use this all the time & I swear if they made it for computers I would have it.

The layout is neat & clean, it offers everything I want - increasing brightness exposure, saturation & vibrance & decreasing graininess - & even things I didn't know I wanted (higlight, shadow & mid tone anyone? You can make each of these redder, greener or bluer). Cropping, flipping, straightening & rotating is simple & the filters are stunning & properly usable. Even better the extras like overlays & borders are really fun to use. Particuarly the overlays, I use those all the time.

This was my finished result with afterlight. Again, it is pretty much something I would have gotten with my fancy camera. What I'm trying to say is all you need to take great photos is practice, determination, an idea of what you want the picture to look like & preferably a good app for a little help.


  1. Great tips! I do like the end photo. tbh I'm not big on editing, but more because I just don't have that kind of time, not because I' don't want to.

  2. Thank you for this post! :) I have a 'fancy pants' camera haha. But this might help if I need to take a photo asap and I only have my ipod with me :) x

  3. Great tips! I like to run my pictures through picmonkey if i'm wanting to get a burly background and in focus subject bc they have some great tools on there to help make pictures look more professional!

    Corinne x

  4. Thank for sharing! These are great tips.

  5. Great tips! I have a pretty good DSLR but sometime I just don't want to carry it with me and risk something happing to it, so it's great to have some techniques for using my phone for great photos!

    Congrats on IFB's Links a la Mode!


  6. Great information; thanks for the tips..

  7. This has actually really helped me and given me confidence, I only have a simple camera and I think it's all about composition and having the right light! Keep doing what your doing! :)

    Jenny x


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