How to get the most from your mobile photos, part II

By guest photographer Dainon Moody

For the past several months, I’ve made the near-accidental decision to shoot more with my Android phone, and less with my digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera. While I enjoy capturing the world around me with both devices, my mobile phone is simply the easier option most of the time. And the more I learn about its features, the less quality I have to sacrifice.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

‘Stretch’ by Dainon Moody.

I no longer say things like, “I wish I had my camera with me right now.” My Samsung Galaxy S4 has been my ready companion through snowy hikes, canoe treks, road trips, concerts and more.

Do you know how to get the most out of your smartphone camera? I didn’t. Unless you’re a tech whiz, you probably don’t know the power you hold in your hands.

But it’s easy to teach yourself: It’s just a matter of performing a little online research, reading some how-to guides (or finding one at your local bookstore) and putting your newly acquired smartphone camera smarts to use. Most people don’t take full advantage of the camera features on their mobile phones. MY S4, for example, is jam-packed with incredible features. Whatever your mobile phone of choice, a little delving into its photographic capabilities can unlock a surprising cache of potential. So arm yourself with some new information, get out there and start snapping the best photos you’ve ever taken on a mobile phone.

Here are five key things I’ve learned about smartphone photography:

1. There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing. Back in the old school world of actual 35mm film, we’d only shoot one photo of an event—say, a family portrait or high school graduation ceremony—and hope for the best. Nowadays, we no longer have to cross our fingers and pray that one shot captures what we want. We can continue shooting in “burst” mode, a continuous high speed that allows several photographs to be captured in quick succession. Oftentimes this mode yields unexpected surprises and the opportunity to achieve ideal results.

Photo by Dainon Moody. Processed with VSCOcam.

“Rock swimmer” by Dainon Moody. Processed with VSCOcam.

2. When in doubt, don’t throw it out. Save the editing and selection process for when you’ve got the time to sit down and really scrutinize. Chances are good you’ll have captured something far better than you ever expected. There are also ways of backing up your photos automatically—something I highly recommend.

"No Vacancy" by Dainon Moody. Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset.

“No Vacancy” by Dainon Moody. Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset.

3. A picture is never “just” a picture. With a wide variety of mobile editing apps available, it’s no longer necessary to lean on the standard photo editing software or laptop to enhance your images. (Give VSCO Cam a try sometime. It’s free.) Also, with the right settings, it’s never too dark out to take a photo. If you need to crop, crop away. The limitations between your mobile phone and traditional cameras are becoming increasingly nonexistent.

"Branch Out" by Dainon Moody.

“Branch Out” by Dainon Moody.

4. Practice makes perfect. It might be an old adage, but it’s true. The more you shoot, the more you hone your artistic eye—an attribute that will continue to churn out better images. And since composition is something you learn by doing, having your camera phone in your pocket at all times becomes not just a matter of convenience, but one of absolute necessity.

"Stretch'd" by Dainon Moody.    Processed with VSCOcam.

“Stretch’d” by Dainon Moody. Processed with VSCOcam.

5. Dig deeper, discover more. The many tricks and shortcuts of my S4 camera continue to blow my mind on a regular basis. From the range of included filters to the many modes (“night” being one I use frequently) to the anti-shake function (a favorite), unleashing the potential of my mobile phone is a journey with many more delightful twists and turns. In many ways, it feels like it’s just begun.

"More Zigs than Zags" by Dainon Moody.

“More Zigs than Zags” by Dainon Moody.

So get on out there and give your mobile phone a real shot. And not just the quick snaps while out with friends on Friday night—stretch its legs on some more serious photos, too. While I’m not advocating for scrapping your DSLR camera altogether, I encourage you to use your mobile phone as a great supplement. It has more options than you may realize, and overall, it’s a pretty fantastic option in its own right.

About the author

Dainon Moody

Dainon Moody is a freelance writer. While he assists a variety of clients worldwide with their various writing and marketing needs, he did publish a collection of poetry last year, The Sound of Scampering. He currently resides in Florida (and is, most likely, currently barefoot.).

About the ArcSoft Photographer Spotlight: ArcSoft is proud to share our ongoing Photographer Spotlight featuring pro, semi-pro and amateur photographers who have talent, unique perspectives and special skills to share. As an imaging technology company, we are passionate about photography and we are equally passionate about promoting beautiful work created by inspired people. 




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  • Jessica Ciocca

    Great post and wonderful photography tips. Thank you!

    • ArcSoft

      Thank you for your comment! Please come back and visit
      our blog for more fun stories!