Box Youth Project Phone Photography

A synopsis of themes covered, with Jo Howell’s photographs, before and after edit

Below is the bullet point brief about aspects of using your smart phone for photography. Each phone and camera will have slight variations on where each of the settings live. Get acquainted with your camera through some test images. You may get some ideas from my bullet points below.

Phone Photography

·         Intro – names, any background or interest in Photography so far.
·         Photograph – light and time.
·         Focus – how to use it effectively on phone (touch focus) and in photography in general.
·         Light evaluation point- test 2 photos to see differences
·         Landscape or portrait – composition, framing, the way we read, simplicity, rule of thirds.
·         Modes – full auto, portrait (focus), landscape (wide angle), close up (macro and micro), night mode (iso and time), self timer, hand palm for selfies.

Exercises to try:


·         Walk photos – 1 photo landscape format, 1 photo portrait format. 1 close up and 1 medium or wide angle.
·         Walk photos – 1 light and dark image, 1 image using focus to blur background.
·         At home challenge – 3 photos about your hobby or a hobby – 1 action shot, 1 close up, 1 using self timer in an interesting way.

Editing decisions

Start in camera by choosing your angle, composition and focus carefully. Review your images as you go along. If it’s not quite what you want, try again. Get closer. No, even closer. The world is a busy place so use your touch screen focus to draw attention to the part of the frame that you want people to pay attention to. The touch focus also takes a light meter reading from the area you touched. In situations where light and dark are quite opposing you may need to consider loss of information in either the highlights (bleach to white with no detail) or in the shadows (muddy with no detail). Sometimes this can be used to great effect creating drama or silhouettes. But, the general rule is a well balanced and well exposed in focus shot.

If you’re creating a series of images then each photo should tell a different part of the story. Consider details, shape, form, the big scope images, action shots, reflections, shadows, looking from above, or below. Remember WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY and HOW. A successful photograph will consider one or two of these, but a great series should aim to show us all of those things.

Taking the best image you can at the time will ultimately give you better images to consider editing afterwards. Most images that I share are edited on my phone using the Photoshop app. Mostly, I’m looking to try to make the image as effective as possible at drawing your attention into the image by making it ‘feel’ like how it was in my head. Often this means bumping up contrast, bringing out details in the shadows, vibrancy, blur tool, crop, and colour. Everyone has their own style for each of these, so just experiment. Digital memory is cheap so you can spend ages just figuring out your style without it hitting you hard in the pocket.

You should be editing your images to get the best out of them. This can be very subtle if you have been taking care as you go along to get the ‘best’ photo in camera. Be wary of over editing! Everyone does it at some point. When you are taking photographs look for the LIGHT. Where is it coming from? Is it harsh? Soft? Does it have a colour cast? Are there too many shadows? Or not enough? Light makes the image so it is an important ingredient to consider.

The challenge now is to put some of these ideas into practice to tell us a story from your point of view. Do the homework challenge and create 3 images that tell us something about one of your hobbies or interests. Just one theme with 3 different pictures telling me different parts of the story as single images, but a more rounded story when viewed together.

I hope that gets a few of you started, and helps you to consider how you will use photography to tell your story.

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