6 smartphone camera resources that I have found useful
With the rise in popularity of mobile phone cameras in recent years has come a growing range of resources to help us make the most of our mobile camera technology.
Below I have outlined 6 main areas in which I have found useful resources for getting started as a mobile photographer and/or discovering how to make the most of your mobile phone camera, which I hope you will find useful.
#1 Online course
iPhone Academy offers an online course which starts with basic, but sometimes unknown, tips for getting started with mobile photography and moves gradually to more advanced techniques.
Each video lesson is explained clearly and there is an opportunity to comment or ask questions after each module.
While the lessons are applicable to all smartphones, the Facebook group, where participants can post their photos in response to each challenge, is confined to iPhone users.
The blurb for the course promises that, “within a few hours, you’ll be taking better photos with your iPhone than most people can take with their big cameras!”
It’s a lofty claim, but the comprehensive set of lessons do deliver what they promise.
Improving the composition of our phone camera images is a strong focus on this course
The course is a great introduction to mobile photography. It covers the main aspects of photography such as composition techniques, different photography genres, becoming a creative photographer with iPhone, advanced tips for using the iPhone camera and other camera apps, an introduction to editing on iPhone using the Snapseed app, as well as giving a number of bonus modules including one in which the instructor Emil looks at participants’ images and does a photo analysis, which I found to be very useful.
The course was recorded a few years ago but has been updated to include the new features on the latest iPhone models, and the comments section is up-to-date and is moderated daily.
Emil’s teaching style is easy to follow and he explains each technique in detail while not appearing patronising.
iPhone Academy is part of iPhone Photography School, www.iphonephotographyschool.com, a site full of tips and techniques related to iPhone photography, ranging from tutorials on getting started with mobile phone photography to more advanced techniques.
Almost every aspect of iPhone photography is covered, and the site really is a one-stop-shop for anyone wishing to develop their phone photography skills.
#2 YouTube video
How can we improve our image just a little bit more? This is the question that photographer Clifford Pickett constantly asks in his video course iPhone Landscape Mastery. In this course, Clifford demonstrates simple yet effective techniques for improving your iPhone landscape photography.
The presenter's teaching style is easy to follow and his enthusiasm for his subject is inspirational.
The videos are short yet very informative and the feeling you get after watching them is, I could do that too!
Be sure to check them out, and look out for regular discounts.
#3 Tips and tutorials site
A very valuable resource for photographers of all kinds – beginners, improvers and advanced photographers – is Digital Photography School (https://digital-photography-school.com).
Described as ‘your ultimate resource for practical photography tutorials, ideas and advice for every photographer’, this is my go-to site for photography advice.
There are tips and tutorials on all aspects of photography, on post-processing and camera gear as well as several courses and eBooks.
When you subscribe to the site you will receive a weekly email with information on the latest articles as well as an invitation to participate in the weekly challenge.
This site has everything you need as a photographer. I have not yet looked for information on any aspect of photography that I haven’t found here. The numerous articles containing tutorials, tips and reviews are all written in easy to follow language and well-illustrated.
While the site is mainly focused on general photography, the principles are the same regardless of the tool we use so are easily applicable to smartphone cameras.
Having said that, there are also several articles dedicated to smartphone camera use. A simple search for smartphone photography will bring up all the smartphone related articles, or just follow this link.
Books are not the first resource you go to for information on smartphone photography, but the book ‘smart phone, smart photography’ by Jo Bradford is worth dipping into as a coffee table reference guide.
While the information in the book has been overtaken by advances in mobile camera technology, this is not as big a problem as you might imagine as all the suggestions for composition and subject matter are possible even on older camera phones.
To quote the author, ‘I firmly believe that the key to taking a good photograph has far more to do with understanding how to use your camera, and has far less to do with having all the most expensive kit’.
Her aim is to help the reader tap into the potential of their portable digital camera, and this is where the book succeeds.
The book is divided into short chapters (mostly a two-page spread) each with a conversational style and illustrated with the author’s own photos taken on smartphones.
The author covers every aspect of smartphone photography that you would want to know about, including a section on editing your images.
I like the user-friendly layout of the book and the wealth of easy to digest information it provides.
If you would like one book to dip into as a quick reference guide, to my mind this is the one.
#5 Magazine (online)
Mobiography magazine is a digital magazine about mobile photography. It caters to both iPhone and android systems.
Describing itself as ‘a leading go-to resource for those looking to make the most of the camera in their pocket – the smartphone’, the magazine’s aim is ‘to showcase, teach and inspire others how to take better photos with their smartphones’.
The magazine covers all aspects of mobile photography and is an excellent learning resource.
The magazine is subscription based, with some back issues available free.
The magazine has a great variety of informative articles and useful advice and it is supplemented by www.mobiography.net which also has a range of excellent articles, tutorials, reviews and interviews.
#6 Editing app
While I do not purport to know everything about Snapseed, I will say that I have used it often to make adjustments to my phone images and find it to be a quick and easy way to enhance my photos.
Snapseed is available for iPhone and android phones and is free to download.
I include Snapseed in my list of resources as it is my go-to app for improving my mobile photography.
There are many other apps available for use with your phone camera. I have not investigated all of these but Clifford Pickett has a section on his website which covers most of the best apps available https://www.cliffordpickett.com/screenshots-iphone-photography-2019, or you can check out https://www.mobiography.net/apps/ for further recommendations.
Editing with Snapseed can be as simple or as complex as you wish to make it.
You can do a quick edit, such as adjusting white balance, cropping or straightening using basic tools, or you can use the Tools Menu to perform more complex edits.
You can convert a photo to black and white or remove an unwanted object.
In fact, most of the edits you want to make can be made using Snapseed.
There are even tutorials to follow to achieve more creative effects.
As the app is free, it is a great edition to your set of tools and will help you create amazing smartphone images.
https://www.mobiography.net (mentioned above) gives an excellent Snapseed tutorial https://www.mobiography.net/apps/snapseed-app-tutorial/
If you are interested in making the most of your smartphone photography please check out some of these resources, share this post or share some of your own resources in the comments section.
UPDATED JUNE 2021