How To Take Better Pictures With Your Smartphone – Everyday Tips To Improve Your Online Presence
You own a gym, you have a smartphone, you have social media accounts that you use to market to future clients and celebrate current members. But you can’t afford to hire a professional photographer yet to give you pro images for your social media sites. Here are some tips to help you make the most of what you have:
Smartphones have come a long way but they are still crappy at capturing movement. You will get a lot of blurring with movement especially in low light. But the benefit of the smartphone is that you always have it on you and its quick to upload to social media and keep your sites fresh. (I shoot in gyms a lot and will use that as a reference point, but these tips apply to any setting)
Fill The Frame
Move in closer and fill more of the frame. Be careful with using the zoom function because often the photo will blur more easily exaggerating hand shake. Unless you have a grasp of creatively using negative space, pick a subject and move in. How does it look? Avoid mediocre and take more photos until you get one that is great or as great as you can get. We’re not shooting film; it’s free to take a few more to get one that is just right. (image below shot at Element Crossfit during the Ontario Open under flurescent lighting)
Tap To Focus
Sometimes the camera guesses where to expose the picture, so your subject may be appear dark but the surrounding area is appropriately exposed. Most smartphones have a function that allow you to tap on your subject on the screen to tell the camera this is the area you want in focus and correctly exposed.
Indoor Photos – Know Your Space And Use What You Have
In any indoor environment there is rarely perfectly distributed light. There are dark corners and bright areas near windows or open doors or under fluorescent lights. Find an area that has soft light (natural light always looks better and looks warmer in pictures) and maximize your picture taking in those areas. Any time I shoot an event there is always one or two sweet spots that I’ll spend extra time photographing in because the light is so right and I know that area will produce a better image.
If you’re taking photos in an indoor gym environment and you have access to windows or bay doors, try taking photos with the natural light to your back (so the light is on your subject). You will get photos that are better exposed and the extra light will help your camera focus. Also pay attention to what time of the day your space has the best (and worst) light and try to capture photos when you have that good light.
If you don’t have any natural light and only have fluorescent lighting some of the same tips still apply. There will still be dark spots where the light just doesn’t reach enough (avoid those) and areas that always appear better in photos because it is better lit. Stick to those areas. Find several of those areas and stick to them. Your subject matter will change throughout the weeks, so you will get enough variety.
The shutter speed just isn’t there yet with smartphones and trying to capture a moving subject is not always going to give you a crisp photo. If you’re taking photos of Crossfit, try capturing the following movements when your subject is starting or finishing the movement or in a pause:
- Deadlift – at the bottom or top of the movement
- Box Jump – when the athlete lands on the top of the box
- Back Squat – in the bottom of the squat or when the person is racking the weight before or after the lift
- Push up – at the top of the movement or at the bottom
- Snatch – at the start or at the end when there is a brief pause before the athlete drops the weight
- Cleans – at the bottom in a squat clean, at the brief pause or at the top in the front rack
- Or any exercise movement just wait for the pause
Many of the Crossfit gyms I see that post regularly on social media take the picture from eye level or close to it. It’s natural and easy but so overdone. Try switching it up, squat low and point the camera upward, or try standing on a box looking down (works nicely for push ups, burpees, snatches). Get creative and your images will have a wider appeal because they don’t look like every other Crossfit gyms photos. (Below image was shot on a bench overlooking the warmup at Crossfit N6)
Take a few minutes to fine tune the photos you took before you upload them to social media. Use your smartphones built in editing system to crop the image to really focus in on your subject. Adjust the exposure a bit and add a little contrast. Or use one of the many photo editing apps available from the App stores. Taking an extra minute to do this will take your images to the next level.
Pick Your Person
Chances are you work with several people, some who take the time and are good at capturing photos and some that could care less. Figure out who has the best eye for taking photos and designate them that role. Your photos will look better and more consistent if they are taken by fewer people and ones that have an interest in doing it.
Although I’m not going to be switching my good Nikon gear for a smartphone only anytime soon, if that’s what you have then hopefully you picked up a thing or two from this so you can improve your images even slightly.
*All images shot on my everyday smartphone the Apple iPhone 8 plus
Hope this helps and if it does, please let me know!
Have a photography related topic you would like to see covered on the Shooting Monsters photography blog? Send an email to sandra @shooting-monsters.com or comment below.