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Five Pro Tips for Photographing Your Friends with a Mobile Phone

January 31, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

When taking a picture with your mobile phone - whether it's an iPhone or and Android phone - the most important thing to think about is composition. Whether you're looking at a city scene, a landscape, or a friend or three, you need to decide where everything is going to go.

I'm not talk about rearranging everything you'd like to take a picture of - I'm talking about arranging yourself and your camera to produce the best visual effect.

Five Pro Tips for Photographing Your Friends

1. Work your angles

It is widely held that people look best when photographed from a slight elevation. I'm not asking you to climb up on something, but I am asking you to stand on your tip-toes or raise your iPhone or Android phone up above your head so that it's angled down at your subject.

Photographing people from above can work wonders: facial features will be more pronounced, but wrinkles will be less obvious. They'll look thinner, too.

While you're at it, take a step back and to the side, or bend your knees a bit to give yourself a new perspective. Your composition should be fluid, and your mobile phone should be just that: mobile! Move yourself and the phone around, always making sure you can see the screen and what's on it.

2. Utilize the rule of thirds

Perhaps the simplest and easiest-to-implement photography pro tip is the rule of thirds. In its most basic terms, the rule of thirds asks that you don't place your subject(s) in the middle of the photo. Set your subject off to the left or right a bit, and experiment with vertical orientation as well, to compose your scene for the perfect shot.

Certain phones and apps will even lay a grid over your composition to facilitate using the rule of thirds. Experiment with this setting, and once you've found it, place your subject at the intersection of two gridlines.

Read more from iPhone Photography School here.

3. Be aware of what's behind your subject

Now that you know where your subject is to go in the frame (the scene you're about to capture), look around and behind it. What's going on back there?

If it's a sunset, please - include it! Just make sure that your camera is focused on your subject, which will be in the foreground. If it's something less visually appealing, arrange yourself and your camera so that it's not in the frame [see Tip 1].

4. No dismembered heads, please

This tip synthesizes the three above: once you've composed your frame, take notice of how any walls, buildings, trees, sign posts, etc. in the background intersect with your human subject(s) in the foreground. Adjust your perspective as necessary to avoid decapitating someone or cutting off half of an arm or a leg.

One very important element of your photograph, to which you must pay attention, is the horizon lineHorizon lines are exactly what they sound like - in the example photo above, the shore on the far side of the bay makes up most of the horizon line. I took care while capturing this candid shot to ensure that neither the horizon line nor the shoreline intersected too dramatically with Brendan's body; I also had to keep in mind that I needed his feet in the frame.

If you're indoors, you (probably) won't have a traditional horizon line, but you will have clean lines and other elements that will either help or hinder your composition.

5. Take more than one frame

Photography is not a "one and done" pursuit.

If you're taking photos of an individual, take two frames (minimum) of each pose and from each angle. If you're photographing a group, you'll need at least four frames of each pose and from each angle to compensate for blinking, yawning, and quick movements that can cause blurriness, especially indoors.

Feel free to zoom in (or out) between frames - this will provide you with more freedom if you'd like to crop your photos later on.

In summary, 

Photography is fun, and mobile phones allow us to take photos of pretty much anything, wherever we are. But it's frustrating when shots don't turn out as well as we thought they would.

These tips (and forthcoming ones) are guaranteed to help you interpret what you encounter, as you see it, into digital photos.

Not sure if you can handle photographing a friend by yourself? See these previous posts: Portrait Photography: It's All About the Relationship and Three Benefits of Engaging a Photographer You Trust.


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