Why Do I Take Photos With My Phone Camera?

In this story, I share the reasons why I take photos with my phone almost every day. You can also use this as a guide to start shooting more effectively with your own cellphone.

Keith Chen

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Image by author.

To those who take photography seriously, there is a stigma associated with shooting with a cellphone. I don’t disagree that shooting with a phone has many limitations such as image quality and controllability, and if that is the only camera you use, it does hinder your improvement in many technical aspects. However, there are lots of benefits when you use it right. In this article, I will share with you three reasons why I shoot with a cellphone regularly and the tricks I use to take better cellphone photos. If you follow them and start practicing, you will soon be able to get some similar results as those photos shown in this story with the tiny device that you carry every day.

#1 — If used right, the phone camera can deliver good-quality photos. The quality of phone photos is not commercial grade, but it is usually more than enough for small prints or web displays. Image quality should not be an excuse for not using your phone for serious photography. If you have tried it but not getting satisfactory results, it is probably because you are not aware of your phone camera’s limitations. Even expensive cameras have their own limitations (my Leica M9 probably has more limitations than my iPhone X), and your job as the photographer is to know the limitations and avoid them. For a cellphone, generally, you want to be aware of the following: (1) Compose carefully — due to the smaller image sensor, you won’t be able to crop out too much from the image, otherwise, the resolution would be too low. Therefore, you want to think carefully about composition because that is not something you can easily fix in post-editing. (2) Avoid poor light condition — also due to the smaller sensor, cellphone tends to perform poorly in a darker situation, resulting in images with the higher noise level. To mitigate this, use your phone in a brighter setting or use the ‘Noise Reduction’ function in an editing app like Lightroom. (3) Avoid fast-moving subjects — on a phone camera, you don’t get to control the shutter speed, which can be a bit arbitrary depending…

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Keith Chen

Photographer, Product Manager @ Google, Professor, Runner, Hiker, and World Traveler. Took photos from 50+ cities (and counting). Language : 中文 / EN