Mobile Phone Photography + Tips

If you're looking for how to take better pictures on your phone or you just want to read something, you've come to the right place. Today I thought I'd write a post to all of you out there about Mobile Photography and how it can be a great way to capture great shots.

Nokia 930 - Unedited  (My personal favourite)

Nokia 930 - Unedited  (My personal favourite)

Today is a great time to be alive in the photographic world! There are so many ways for us to take, share, and edit pictures. The process to which we can take photographs and share them our friends, family and audience is much, much faster than our film days. This is not to say that film no longer has a place in this world, because that's simply just not true! In fact Film Photography is back on the rise with more and more professionals using Film as a medium for their work.

However, I'm here to talk to you about taking photographs on your Mobile Phone. Now, it may be a medium predominantly over-run by Selfie-Takers, but used correctly and well, the Mobile Phone can be a fantastic way to capture amazing photos that people won't expect to come from a phone.  

Nokia 930 - Edited on Photoshop CC Desktop

Nokia 930 - Edited on Photoshop CC Desktop

A great example of the photographs you can take on your Phone, is the rise of the popular image based social media 'Instagram'! You only need to look at such Hashtags as #iphonephotography or #mobilephonephotography to see the caliber of stuff you can take with your phone! Granted, you may see a lot of Selfies, Pets or Hotdog Legs at the Beach, but take the time to look and you'll see what is achievable with such a simple piece of kit. It's big business and one look on Amazon will show how popular accessories are for this media.


I currently use a Nokia Lumia 930 as a phone and with its boasted 20MP and Zeiss Lens, in my opinion, I think it works pretty well as a camera! I've always been impressed with the quality of images; they're sharp and crisp with great colour. Many people have been surprised to learn the photos were taken on my phone. One of the features I really love about the new Nokia phones, is the camera app made and produced by Lumia, known as 'Lumia Camera'. This app is predominantly my only way of taking images and has a feature that most photographers will absolutely love. If I pull the 'shutter' button to the middle of the screen, it comes up with a whole host of settings for me to play with displayed on a sort of wheel system. It means that I have the ability to change such settings as White Balance, Manual Focus, ISO, Exposure Compensation and even Shutter Speed! Amazing for when you know exactly what kind of  shot you want to take.


Nokia 930 - Edited in Afterlight

I edit the majority of the shots I take on my phone on my iPad. This is mainly due to the fact that as a Adobe CC Subscriber I have access to the Photoshop and Lightroom apps, which allows me to make the required changes and crops I want to make, without the faff of uploading to my Desktop and downloading back to my phone or iPad ready for posting on the various social medias.

I've also been using a an App lately called 'Afterlight'. It's not free, but it is £0.79 which may as well be free! So if you want to spare the price of a bottle of Coke, I highly recommend purchasing it. It has plenty of features that are just plain fun! For those dodgy crops that won't fit on Instagram, it has the "boarder" to fill in the blanks to make it square, perfect for portrait shots that don't reach the 3:2 ratio stretch Instagram have introduced. Another feature Afterlight has to offer is damaged/scratched film overlays which can add a little something to an image, allowing it to stand out a bit more and really give it that 35mm feel.


iPad Air 2 - Edited on Lightroom CC iPad App

iPad Air 2 - Edited on Lightroom CC iPad App

Rarely do I take photos on my iPad, simply because that wasn't really what the tablet was designed for. It may well be great for taking that odd family shot or whatever, personally I don't feel that camera quite meets the same standard as my phone. One thing I do find the camera on the iPad useful for, is taking images of documents while I'm out and about, it's a quick and easy alternative to scanning or writing out the entire document.

This isn't to say, however, that the iPad doesn't have it's place and/or doesn't have the ability to take the kind of photo you wish to take. Take this image of the clouds as an example, taken last week as I flew out to the South of France to shoot a wedding. I had my iPad in hand at the time and in the fast moving plane, I had only a few moments to take this photo before this shot was gone, and the plane had ascended above the clouds.  

The opportunity had presented itself, beams of sunlight piercing through one layer of clouds to lay rest on the dark, dull layer below that hung above London. I managed to get the shot I wanted and as I'd taken it on the iPad it without a doubt kept me occupied for a bit while I edited.

If your phone is unable to take photos or lacks a camera then this may well be a viable option for you.


At the end of the day this is why Mobile Phone Photography has become so popular. When these unmissable opportunities are presented to us, 9 times out of 10, we don't go home saying 'I wish I had my camera with me'. This picture of some Starlings is just one of those shots. Walking back to my Brother's place on a very cold windy day in London, crossing a bridge as the Sun set, the Starlings flew in force over this bridge time and time again. Equipped with only my phone, my Brother and I stood at that bridge for 10-15 minutes just watching them fly and getting the perfect shot on our phones.  

Nokia 930 - Edited in Lightroom CC iPad App

Nokia 930 - Edited in Lightroom CC iPad App


With all kinds of photography, one of the most fundamental elements is something known as a 'Photographic Eye' (or 'Artistic Eye). Now this may come more naturally to some, and you may be in the category! But the thing about photography, is that there's now final level, there's no level 100. There is only honing our skills as artists and developing our Photographic Eye as we develop and grow as people. 

Taking photos on your phone is no different from taking photos with anything else. When I used to work in a studio and we would have kids in for a week or two for their Work Experience, I would find quite often that those that came without DSLR's, took the best images. You don't need an amazing camera to take an amazing picture. Something I told those kids time and time again. This one girl (whose name I can't remember anymore) used a Canon Powershot, a small Compact Digital Camera for her entire time with us and her shots were quite frankly phenomenal! Her composition was very thought out and she explained exactly why she'd shot the way she did. I'm a firm believer that you should really get to know your camera before you shoot. I've worked beside other photographers before with the latest camera and gear that was released the month before and upon seeing their work, you realise they have little clue to how to use it and could probably spend a bit more time perfecting their 'Eye'.

Having an expensive camera does not automatically make you a Pro and Mobile Phone Photography just proves that. 

Nokia 930 - Edited on Lightroom CC iPap App

Nokia 930 - Edited on Lightroom CC iPap App


Don't get me wrong now, we all love to shoot what we're drinking, albeit Coffee, Beer, Wine, Whiskey etc. How you shoot it can really enhance the story you're trying to tell with the image and really reiterate whatever it is you're up to at the time. Take these 3 images as an example. I've used all of them to show what I'm doing, so sometimes people don't need to read the Facebook Status or Instagram Caption to (excuse the pun) get the whole picture.

Nokia 930 - Edited on Lightroom CC iPad App Drinking in a Pub in Ireland the day after shooting a wedding in Cork.

Nokia 930 - Edited on Lightroom CC iPad App

Drinking in a Pub in Ireland the day after shooting a wedding in Cork.

Nokia 930 - Edited on Photoshop Express (Windows Phone) App Airport coffee, off to see my old Mentor Nick in Spain.

Nokia 930 - Edited on Photoshop Express (Windows Phone) App

Airport coffee, off to see my old Mentor Nick in Spain.

Nokia 930 - Unedited   A quick cup of tea before performing a gig in Canterbury Cathedral.

Nokia 930 - Unedited  

A quick cup of tea before performing a gig in Canterbury Cathedral.

It's all about using your photography skills to tell the story. Try using your phone either level with your subject (in this case a cup) or just below it, enabling you to capture more in the background and set the scene. 


When it comes to Mobile Phone Photography (and all kinds of photography), don't be afraid to be creative abstract. I say this more with Mobile Phone Photography because sometimes you just get those ideas in your head that just can't wait and you may not have your other camera to hand. If something jumps out at you, some feeling is saying take a photo of this, then do it! 

Nokia 930 - Unedited

Nokia 930 - Unedited

This abstract image here is the inside of a Corona bottle, a shot, to which I might add, I would have been unable to capture with my DSLR, as the lens is far to large! The very small camera on my phone was small enough to be entirely encompassed by the neck of the bottle. It is by far one of my favourite shots taken on my Phone.

Nokia 930 - Unedited

Nokia 930 - Unedited

This picture is a simple, yet very effective shot. It's simply 2 elements and 2 colours. a Yellow awning against the deep blue, clear sky of Andalusia. Now granted this is a shot I could have taken on my big camera, as at the time my DSLR was just inside, but chose to shoot it on my phone for whatever reason. It's like when you shoot with Film; often when shooting with a Film camera you shoot things that you wouldn't normally shoot with a DSLR. This is because your eye works in a different way and you can see what works and what doesn't. Not to mention the fact that with Film, you only have a finite number of shots and there is no delete button. In a way, I think this translates to taking photographs on your phone too. You see the world in a slightly different way to how you would see it with a DSLR, Film camera or any other medium of photography. The chances are, if I was where I was with my DLSR, outside, under this awning, I probably would have missed it.

The thing to remember is to listen to your camera and to listen to yourself. There are things deep in all of us, a part of our subconscious that knows what we like, what music we like, what we find appealing in a certain landscape when going for a walk or what art we find beautiful when in a Gallery. And it is that that drives us, that little piece of us that says something would make a great image. Granted as humans we all have different tastes to one another and some may not agree with what you've shot, but at the end of the day, it's about taking pictures for yourself and what you find pleasing to your eye.


Nokia 930 - Edited on lightroom CC iPad App

Nokia 930 - Edited on lightroom CC iPad App

Let's recap in bullet points. The majority of these also apply as a basis for shooting with any other medium.

  1. Listen to yourself - If your brain is telling you something would make a good photo, take it!
  2. Be Patient - Don't be afraid to wait for the right moment, think of the starlings from earlier, let the photo come to you.
  3. Be level with your subject unless you're trying to exaggerate a point - You want to make something seem small shoot above it, Want to make it look big, shoot below it.
  4. Try shooting some abstract stuff - Make little goals or projects and see what you can come up with!
  5. Try to make your pictures tell a story.
  6. If you're not enjoying what you're shooting, move on - Have fun, it should never be a chore.
Nokia 930 - Edited in Afterlight iPad App

Nokia 930 - Edited in Afterlight iPad App

Mobile Phone Photography has the ability to be a great tool for honing your photographic eye and creating some amazing photographs. It has revolutionised the way in which we take photos and has made the process of seeing an image, taking it and sharing it to an almost instant level. Break the mould, and see what you can really achieve with you phone!

In my next Post I will covering my time working in France shooting stunning couple Olivia and Craig's Wedding.

Until then.

JP