Do you know the best an­gles to shoot from? Want to learn how to frame a shot prop­erly on your phone or how to work with nat­u­ral light­ing? Our phone cam­era ex­pert re­veals all…



Isaac says: “I went to the Grand Canyon a while ago and shot 1,400 pic­tures in one week, and liked seven of these. When you’re shoot­ing por­traits es­pe­cially, never take just one – take many to en­sure you get just the right ex­pres­sion! (The Google Pho­tos app gives you un­lim­ited stor­age. Use it.)”

says: If you’re vis­it­ing a once-in-a-life­time lo­ca­tion, make sure you get a va­ri­ety of shots from dif­fer­ent an­gles. A slight shift in po­si­tion to the left or right can make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence to the dy­nam­ics of your im­ages. One po­ten­tial prob­lem is that as cam­era sen­sors get higher res­o­lu­tion, the pic­tures take up more space. If your phone can take a mi­croSD card, make sure you add a big one (128GB or more, if your phone sup­ports it) so that you don’t have to worry about the num­ber of shots (or how much 4K video you take).

If you can’t add stor­age to your phone (as is the case with iPhone, for ex­am­ple), send pho­tos to a cloud ser­vice then delete them from your de­vice when more room is needed, or get some ex­ter­nal stor­age that you can con­nect – there are USB keys and hard drives that work with iPhone (see p81).


Isaac says: “Make sure you al­ways have your cam­era out. It sounds ob­vi­ous, but you need to be ready.”

says: As phones are al­ways on standby, they can be ready to use al­most in­stantly. For added speed, con­sider us­ing a sleeve and lan­yard to keep your cam­era out and primed, but only if you feel safe ex­pos­ing your phone in such a way. The Zizo Bolt case ( zi­zowire­ is an ex­cel­lent choice. It has a hook to at­tach a lan­yard, so you can loop it around your wrist. It’s also a tough case, built to with­stand any ac­ci­dents that could hap­pen if you’re car­ry­ing your phone ev­ery­where.

You might also run low on bat­tery if you’re walk­ing around with your cam­era app al­ready run­ning a lot. In that case, you could look at a bat­tery case in­stead of the Bolt – Mo­phie’s Juice Packs are a great op­tion for iPhone and Sam­sung – or a slim­line ex­ter­nal bat­tery pack that can sit in a pocket un­til needed.


Isaac says: “At mid­day, when the sun is di­rectly above, take pic­tures of ob­jects and peo­ple in the shade. Mid­day sun is in­cred­i­bly harsh, but in the shade it’s much softer and more dis­trib­uted. Your sub­ject also won’t squint, and you’ll get a bet­ter photo. Every­one’s happy!”

T3 says: Us­ing nat­u­rally dif­fused light through a canopy of leaves is an­other great way to find com­ple­men­tary light­ing, but watch the back­ground. If the scene be­yond the shade is cast in bright sun­light you may find it burns out and gets lost. If this is the case, move your sub­ject slightly to get a back­ground with light that more closely matches the fore­ground.

If you are stuck for cover and want to take the pic­ture in direct sun­light, po­si­tion your sub­ject with the sun at 45 de­grees be­hind you. This will cause some shad­ows across the face but will help to avoid squint­ing, since they won’t be look­ing di­rectly at the light. To re­duce the shad­ows on the face when shoot­ing a por­trait, you can al­ways hold up a piece of white fab­ric, card or pa­per to re­flect some of the light back into the face on the shad­owed side.


Isaac says: “Think about shoot­ing some­thing from di­rectly above or di­rectly below. Or very close. Or while us­ing a nat­u­ral frame like bushes or leaves. The phone is small. It can be used in many dif­fer­ent set­tings, so take ad­van­tage of that. You should never take the same photo twice; al­ways change per­spec­tives or set­tings be­tween pho­tos.”

T3 says: A com­mon trick used by pho­tog­ra­phers is to an­gle the hori­zon, a tech­nique known as the Dutch tilt. This un­usual an­gle in­stantly adds fur­ther in­ter­est and dy­nam­ics, and can be used in a va­ri­ety of ways. Used in com­bi­na­tion with a low or high an­gle, for ex­am­ple, the ef­fect can be su­per-dra­matic. Take a look at your sur­round­ings too. You can use ob­jects such as trees, fences, paths or even a lamp post to cre­ate pat­terns or paths through im­ages, help­ing to draw the eye through your com­po­si­tion.


Isaac says: “Make sure you tap the viewfinder when tak­ing your shot. You can tap the viewfinder to set fo­cus on some­thing in your im­age. On the Pixel, this will make sure that what­ever you tap stays sharp and not too dark or bright. You can even drag the aper­ture set­ting up and down af­ter tap­ping to make the im­age ex­actly as bright as you like.”

T3 says: This is solid ad­vice for more than just the Pixel phones. The aut­o­fo­cus­ing on phones is great at guess­ing what you want the shot to be of, but when you tap some­thing the phone will op­ti­mise what it’s do­ing for that sub­ject. Be­ing able to lock fo­cus and ex­po­sure is re­ally use­ful, too. While this works well for static sub­jects, things can be a lit­tle more tricky if they start to move. New fea­tures such as in­tel­li­gent track­ing will help to keep up with the sub­ject and en­sure that it re­mains in fo­cus and cor­rectly ex­posed.

How­ever, if you’re at a sport­ing event where the horse, car or per­son shoots past quickly, you may find that you miss the ac­tion. This is where ex­po­sure and fo­cus lock come into play.

Tap on a spe­cific point on the ground that cor­re­sponds to the po­si­tion you know that the sub­ject will pass, then lock the fo­cus and ex­po­sure to that point (often just by tap­ping and hold­ing, but it’ll vary be­tween phone and app). When the sub­ject passes, hold the shut­ter but­ton to take burst shots. You’ll skip the de­lay as the cam­era tries to fo­cus and cal­cu­late the ex­po­sure, and you will end up with the im­age you want. A lit­tle trial and er­ror are often needed to per­fect the shot.


Isaac says: “Get closer and fill the frame. When you’re too far back it’s hard to fig­ure out what the sub­ject is, and more likely that you’ll have un­wanted or dis­tracted in­tru­sions in the back­ground. Just get closer! As a side note, pay at­ten­tion to your back­grounds.”

T3 says: Peo­ple can ben­e­fit from an ex­treme close-up, but it has to be done care­fully. In the world of self­ies, this type of shot has be­come much eas­ier. But still, step­ping into some­one’s per­sonal space can be in­tru­sive. To take a suc­cess­ful close-up por­trait, en­sure you know the per­son well or at least have a good rap­port go­ing; keep chat­ting to them as you take the pic­ture and get them to pull a few ex­pres­sions. The more shots you take and the bet­ter that rap­port, the bet­ter the fi­nal im­age will be.

One of the big prin­ci­ples here is to al­ways zoom with your feet and not by pinch­ing to zoom. You’re just crop­ping into the frame when you do that on a phone, which you could al­ways do af­ter you take the shot any­way. If you want to get in close, do it by shift­ing your­self so that you get the full qual­ity of the pic­ture.

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