All You Need to Know About Starting a Smartphone Photography Project


May 2, 2015

Just a few days ago, the creators of the new Huawei P8 smartphone asked fine art photographer Benjamin Von Wong to create the best image he possibly could possibly with their newest mobile phone model, without any use of Photoshop or editing. The aim of this endeavor was to demonstrate the amazing possibilities of a smartphone camera and its ability to provide more than decent photos without any additional software. Surely, aside from a great camera, it also takes great talent and creativity, and this photographer had it, as in the end he managed to take an incredible photo.

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Benjamin Von Wong's photo taken with Huawei P8 smartphone. Image via 500px

The Smartphone Photography Project

It is no secret that photography developed hand in hand with the technology related to cameras, film and equipment in general. Nowadays, it’s all about being digital and instant, so we could talk about the fact that photography is widespread more than ever, but it is also dying as a medium because of that same reason. But, we could also disagree - while the Huawei case was a specific one, it is fair to say professional photographers’ careers are safe, since it takes a lot more than a smartphone to create a good project. When it comes to everyday folk who just want to take photos for the sake of creating visual memories, or creatives who want to take on an art project through smartphone photography, it is a great time to be alive. Technology is reaching its very peak in offering the best and today, it is true more than ever that “the best camera is the camera you have with you”.

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The new iPhone 6 Camera features mean to improve the quality of smartphone photos. Image via dailytech

What Does This Button Do?

If you’re thinking of creating a smartphone photography project, like for any art project, you need a medium and an idea. As your medium is your phone, you’ll want to get to know it - see what it can do to best accompany your intentions. In photography, there are a couple of basics like exposure, white balance and ISO, and knowing how to manage them will improve your image immensely. So, instead of simply setting everything to “auto”, try playing with these things. Experiment with focus of your smartphone photography by taping on different areas of your screen. Use only the main camera, as the front one’s quality is fairly low. For things that don’t necessarily have to do with your phone but your creativity, like angle, lighting and composition, the whole world is your playground and anything can be useful, from lamps to windows, the sun, all sorts of backgrounds and props. If you feel like getting real nerdy about the whole thing, there is an array of elements to be added to lenses, tripods for further stability and the inevitable selfie stick.

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Photoshop Touch is one of the editors app for smartphone photography, offering you quite a professional approach to your project. Image via phonearena

To Filter or Not To Filter?

Once you’re done with technicalities, ask yourself: what is it you want to say through your smartphone photography project? Assuming you don't want your journey to end on Facebook. There are many genres, from street photography to portraiture, landscape photography or still life. One of the movements that gives artists the greatest freedom of expression and the biggest inspiration is surely conceptual art. Like in the arts in funeral, the artistic concept of your art project is entirely up to you, but once it’s established, it should be seen through. Whether it’s just one photograph or a series of it, it depicts an original idea, and providing the visual impact will be the previously set parameters of your smartphone and perhaps an image editing software. And there is a variety of those out there - some phones have a built-in component, but many users opt out to get a separate app. In the sea of apps offering a head-spinning number of possibilities to make your smartphone photography look amazing, leading the way is, of course, Instagram, which successfully combined quick editing and photo-sharing platform. On top of that, it’s free, really easy to use and it introduces you to a large community of like-minded people.

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InstaArt, an exhibition of Instagram app photography in Tel Aviv, 2012. Image via tlvspot

Look Mom, I'm an Artist!

When all these components come together in a perfect fit, you have yourself a decent smartphone photography project, and not just "finally a decent Facebook selfie". If you’re lucky, persistent and passionate about expressing yourself, then the way you do it matters the least, but it is always good to master your technique and polish it to perfection. Because who knows? You might just end up having an exhibition of your smartphone art or getting an award at the iPhone Photography Contest.

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Featured image: Smartphone Photography Project. Image via skillcrush