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Top 5 tips to take professional looking photos with your smartphone

Take great photos to tell your charity’s story, wherever you are

Take great photos to tell your charity’s story, wherever you are

Image courtesy of Threepipe Reply’s @Enamic5 on Instagram

With more people online than ever, getting the right photos to tell your charity’s story is even more important. But you don’t need to be a professional photographer to do it. Ben Smale, Head of Creative Services at performance marketing agency Threepipe Reply, shares how you can take great photos straight from your smartphone.

These days, digital channels are noisier than ever as more brands compete for people’s attention. There are more messages out there, more creative campaigns and more clutter. This means that it’s harder to get your brand noticed without effective and stand out creative. In fact, according to Neilson research, the quality of creative can account for a whopping 47% of an ad’s effectiveness, with reach in second place at 22%.

This means that effective creative has never been more important to get your brand noticed. You can have the perfect strategy, but the way you present yourself is more important that ever. And that’s where great photography can make a real difference. These days your average smartphone can take some truly beautiful shots, if you know how to use it.

So here are our top 5 tips for maximising the effectiveness of your smartphone photography:

1. Let’s start with the basics. Make. Sure. Your. Lens. Is. CLEAN!

Your phone has been bouncing around in your pocket all day without a lens cap and with no protection from dust and finger marks. If you only take one thing from this article, just make sure your camera lens is clean and clear of any dust and grease. Professional cameras always use lens caps to keep clean and protected, so make sure you look after your phone if you are looking to capture great imagery with it.

2. Keep shots simple

Try and focus on one subject with a clean background – this will give you better compositions and more contrast between what you’re shooting and everything else (this is where portrait mode on recent iPhones can really make your photography stand out).

It’s also important to frame your shot by making the most of the space you have. Don’t be afraid to move closer, try shooting from lower angles and also from different viewpoints until you find an angle that works.

Speaking of simple… Shooting a wide scene? Shoot in landscape orientation - particularly if shooting video. Try and avoid zooming in, as this will minimise the quality of your imagery. Most phone cameras utilise a digital zoom – meaning they crop and make your shot smaller, rather than actually zooming in!

3. Lighting is key

Light is one of the most important factors to successful photography – and learning to work with the light can make or break your shots. Try and pick a time of day where the lighting best suits the mood and atmosphere that you’re after – and try and avoid harsh lighting such as when the sun is at its brightest.

Utilise natural light where possible and move around your subject around to make the most of the light that’s available. A flash can be useful in the right circumstances, but it’s best to utilise natural lighting where you can in order to best control the output (assuming you don’t have a photography studio to hand!).

4. Get technical and get to know your phone’s features

While every phone will vary, try and get to know your phone settings to make the most of any features. Different shooting modes and formats can make a massive difference to the quality of your shots and sometimes phones default to low storage modes whereby lower quality photos are taken to reduce image size – and when you view this on a larger screen this will really show.

Try also using secondary buttons (often the volume button) when shooting rather than the on-screen button – if done properly, this can improve your grip and avoid blurring from shaky hands. What’s more – try out some basic editing apps. You don’t need to be a photoshop guru to make some minor adjustments to lighting and contrast, but these edits can go a long way (avoid going too heavy on the filters though!).

5. And finally, have fun!

Shoot as much and as often as you can. The more shots you take, the more you’ll learn from your experience and the better you’ll get. Try different angles, lighting and settings and see what works for you and your brand. Before long, you’ll be taking shots you never thought possible on your smartphone and your brand will start to get noticed.

Want to share your charity’s photos?

We’d love to see them. Send your snaps into for a chance to have your photos featured on our website.

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