The market offers us plenty of options when it comes to phones nowadays and I’m pretty sure that at least one new phone will be released by the end of this brief text. Therefore, talking about a very specific phone for making great photographs is just nonsense. 

The first thing that you need to know before diving into practicing any of these tips is your phone’s photographic capabilities and limitations. And you need to learn more about them by taking photos, not by reading or watching reviews.

Today we bring you a brief list of things that you need to know for taking better looking (or at least more aesthetic) portraits with your phone, whichever it might be.

  1. Practical Lighting

Photography is constantly haunted by the paradigm of studio lighting, but this can be different via practical lighting. Sure, studio lighting enhances things with the pretension of elevating beauty to another level. But if we think about this for a moment, we can easily spot that there is a lot of unrealism about high crafted beauty.

On the other hand, you can use practical lighting, a common resource from cinematography in order to light your subjects. It is hard to define practical lighting as a recipe since it is highly correlated to creativity, but in simple words, is the use of any light source in order to light your subject. This has to go in line with your visual intentions of course, and the possibilities are virtually infinite.

Watch this video on how Stanley Kubrick helped to popularize this technique among the film industry.

2. Composition

It is impossible to cover composition in such a brief piece of text, but you definitely need to know more about this in order to create portraits that could speak better for you. The composition is the soul of a photograph, it doesn’t matter how sharp or how perfectly exposed an image is, as long as it has something to say. And those words come precisely from the composition. 

Here the great master Ted Forbes gives us further resources for understanding composition in a better way.

3. Limitations

Get to know your phone’s limitations, try shooting in the most manual way (via direct phone app or other apps), and even if your phone shoots raw, take it to the limits with the main goal of knowing those limits better. After defining these limitations, you’ll be able to know more about handling light and steadiness in order to make your phone the perfect tool for everyday portrait photographs. From noise to shooting speed, from focus to color interpretation, make the most out of your phone, no upgrading needed as long as you understand how to weigh out these limitations.

4. Keep steady for Focusing

And speaking of focusing, many phones have some troubles while focusing due to fixed apertures and limited mechanical components. Try to keep your phone as steady as possible when shooting a portrait. There are many tools like the famous Apexel Tripods that make this an easier task no matter the surface. There is no way you can take a clumsy shot while keeping everything still and sturdy.

5. Use Color

About color we can say the same as in composition, it would simply impossible to cover this topic if we start to think about the many books that have been written about color’s theory. Just take into account that color needs to be used with storytelling purposes, and as long as every color inside the composition gets along with each other, you’ll be doing a great job.

There is something quite interesting about color’s psychology and is the fact that it can really transmit our feelings and ideas when we see them. Our brain can even match colors in a pleasant way, making this psychology thing a very solid topic indeed.

6. Read Light from your Subjects

This is quite obvious, but don’t forget to expose light right from your subjects. This will guarantee you that the light reflected by our subjects’ face will be the one your phone will be recording. 

7. Avoid Zooming In

Unless your phone has periscopic zooming capabilities, avoid zooming in. And we aren’t saying this in order to favor a specific brand, but we think that those phones are the ones that are truly capable of zooming in and out with a problem thanks to optical variable lengths, in contrast with digital zoom which simple enlarges and enlarges the scene.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this brief list, so stop reading tutorials and get out and practice shooting some photos with the phone you have right now! Stop desiring the latest and greatest and have fun.

By: Federico Alegría



The best camera is the camera you have with you. Do you like to take pictures but don't always want to carry a camera bag? Then this blog is for you. Come on a journey to explore the possibilities and challenges of taking beautiful pictures with your smartphone.

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