Smartphone Photography - made easy. | Deanna Flinn | Skillshare

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Smartphone Photography - made easy.

teacher avatar Deanna Flinn, Photographer and Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Welcome to Smartphone Photography made easy.


    • 2.

      Smartphone Photography - Class Project.


    • 3.

      Let's get started.


    • 4.

      The Rule of Thirds.


    • 5.

      Zoom with your feet.


    • 6.

      Create a balanced exposure.


    • 7.

      Use natural light.


    • 8.

      Post production is key.


    • 9.

      Tips to get you started.


    • 10.

      Thank you!


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About This Class

Want to take better photos with your Smartphone?

Let’s explore some simple tips and tricks that will improve your smartphone-ography.

Hi, my name is Deanna, I’m a Skillshare instructor, a photographer, and an illustrator.

I’m coming to you from my live-work studio on the West Coast, I grew up on the East Coast and have been an instructor for over a decade.

Today, we are going to learn how to take some great photos with our smartphones.

All you will need for this class is a smartphone and a desire to use it to take photos.

In the following lessons, I am going to provide you with some simple, understandable, easy to implement tips to help you create amazing photos with your phone.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Deanna Flinn

Photographer and Illustrator


Hello, I'm Deanna.

I love teaching because I learn right alongside you.

Welcome to my SkillShare platform, I am so glad you are here.

You can find my current work on Instagram here

You can see my commercial photography website here

I create continuous line drawings (blind contour) of my photographs. I see the shapes and lines as inspiration using my pen to connect them without lifting them from the page. I create a drawing by hand then scan it to create a digital file. I use those digital files to create transfers on fabrics I sew on thrifted clothing. 

I have had solo exhibitions in the USVI, Toronto, Vancouver, and Halifax. During Project Instant V6.0 for Capture 2019 at Scie... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Welcome to Smartphone Photography made easy.: Hi, I'm Diana. I'm an instructor, hair with skill share, photographer and an illustrator. I'm coming to you from my live work studio on the West Coast. I used to live on the East Coast. And I'm really happy to be here with you today and I'm really glad you're joining me. Java smartphones. Do you want to take better photos with it? This is the course for you. All you will need for this class is a smartphone and a desire to use it to take photos. In the following lessons, I'm going to provide you with some easy, simple, understandable tips and tricks to take great photos with your smartphone. So let's go. 2. Smartphone Photography - Class Project.: How low skills? Yeah, learners, welcome to the class project video for this class, how to take better photos with your smartphone. The project for this class is to take five photos using what you have learned. In this class. You're five photos can be any subject you choose, anything at all. You can use five different subjects or one single subject. Applying everything that you've learned in this course is gonna take you through how to hold your smartphone to take great photos, composition, exposure, how to tell a story with a few images. It's going to wrap everything up and a great little bow here or the prompts, you will need to create your five photos for the class. Project number one is balance your exposure. Remember to use the rule of thirds and R33. Zoom into your subject with your feet. Umber four, turn off your Flash and use natural light. Number five, capture a series of three photos to tell a story. A story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Doing a little bit of post-production on the images that you create with your smartphone will help you improve your smartphone photography. I recommend a few options you can get for free later on in the lessons. Filters are also a great option. Choosing one or two or three that you use consistently to create a consistent look and feel. Some people post everything on their social media with a filter. You can do that too. If that's something you want to do, just make sure you're consistent with your filter usage. Feel free to share your five photos here and the class project. I look forward to seeing them. I shared mine. Let me know what you think. I'd love your feedback. Let's head on over to less than one so we can learn how to make better photos with our smartphone. Let's go. 3. Let's get started.: Welcome to lesson one. We're going to learn how to take better photos with our smartphone. You could have an iPhone or an Android, or Google or Sony. It doesn't matter. And he kinda phone that takes pictures. That's all you need. The only thing you might need is an extra app, those you can get for free. Being comfortable with taking photos is a great start. I'm going to show you how to make them even better. We're going to begin with how to hold your phone. The basic approach to stabilizing your phone when you're taking pictures is kinda simple. Hold your phone in both hands, tuck your elbows in. I like to call them your wings. Make sure your fear about hip-width districts apart and make sure you're comfortable. It kinda treats your body like a tripod. If your phone has a physical camera trigger, use it. On most smartphones, the up volume button. You can use that to take photos. Holding your phone horizontally with two hands can feel unnatural at first, we're used to one, handing everything in, grabbing really quick shots, right? Even our selfies, we usually do one-handed holding their phone in a horizontal orientation is the most natural for the camera that comes with your phone. All of the smartphone cameras are actually designed to be held this way. One benefit of holding your phone into hands is it slows you down. You're going to get a little bit more time to think about that photo that you're going to take. It's going to give you some time to consider your composition. Things are going to look different on a horizontal axis, on the vertical one or periods to taking photos that way, you can always shoot both should horizontal and vertical. Try and see which one you like the best. You're smart phone is always with you. So learning how to take better photos with it gives you the ability to create better photos to document your life. And less than two, we're going to talk about composition and the rule of thirds. I'll see you there. 4. The Rule of Thirds.: Welcome to lesson to the rule of thirds. Have you heard of it? It's a pretty cool tool to use in all of your picture taking to help you create more interesting compositions. If you go into the settings of your smartphone, you can turn on a grid. And when you do turn it on, it's going to look like a tic-tac-toe game. It's pretty cool. This magical tic tac toe grid kinda gives you a Mac to taking more interesting photos. How does that happen? You say, let me tell you, inside of that tic tac toe grid, you will notice where the lines intersect, right? There's four different points. There's been a lot of research done on this. And the rule of thirds is from way back during the Impressionists era, where r i is actually more attracted to points of interest that occur where those lines intersect. Does that make sense? So where the intersection point of that line is on the grid, if you put somebody's eyeball or somebody's head, an animal, or a highlight color or an intersecting point. It's more interesting for the viewer. It draws them in. Vinci actually figured it out when he was out on the countryside and making all kinds of paintings and kinda starving to death. He had a friend who was a math genius, who mapped his paintings and figured out maybe the audience would like them better if you put the big bouquet of flowers in this area. So he tried it and it worked. And we've been using it ever since, framing a subject so that the points of interests don't fall in those intersecting lines can also be an interesting photo. It's up to you to decide what you want to use, what you're comfortable with, and what you really want to do. But the rule of thirds is a great guide to get you started. Once you know the rules, you can also break them. So combining these two elements together, slowing down, pulling your phone with two hands and turning on that grid to create more interesting compositions. Your smart phone photography game just went up about a % million. I can't wait to see your images. Let's head on over to lesson three. We're going to learn how to zoom with our feet. That's right. Let's go. 5. Zoom with your feet.: Hi, welcome to lesson three. And less than three, we are going to zoom with our feet. Using the zoom on your smartphone will reduce the resolution of your overall image. Get physically closer to your subject. Zooming with your smartphone is sometimes maybe your only option, but know that the resolution is going to be greatly reduced on that image. So if you want a close up photo of that cute puppy on the other side of the dog park. Goal over. Introduce yourself. Can I take a photo of your dog? It's so cute. Most people will say yes. They might even say, can you send me a copy and like Sure, I can text it to your'e Now, if you're unable to get physically close, try using a selfie stick. So many people's stand so far away from their subject, it might be hard to tell what the subject was in the photo. Smartphones use a wide angle lens. That means they have a really wide field of view. They can see a lot. So you'd get closer to your subject and fill the frame member I mentioned frame when we're holding our phone horizontally to take our photos, we have a frame, right? That's what it's gonna show us. The picture we're going to take. We have our grid turned on. And as we get closer to our subject, our composition, it gets more clear. And it also gets more interesting. Zoom with your feet. It'll make your photos better. Trust me. Now let's head on over to lesson for where we're going to learn how to create a balanced exposure. So far, what have we learned? We've learned about composition with our rule of thirds. We've learned how to hold our phone to take some better photos. And now we've learned how to get closer to our subjects. And instead of just zooming in. Lesson four. 6. Create a balanced exposure.: Welcome to lesson four. In lesson four, we're going to learn how to create a balanced exposure. It's important to know that in your smartphone, focus and exposure are married together. What do I mean by that? Well, if you're using the camera app that came with your phone, doesn't matter which platform it's on. Exposure and focus are tied together. The camera's gonna focus wherever you touch on the screen. You will also notice as you touch on the screen and move your finger around, that your exposure will change. Pretty interesting how, why don't you try it? Pick up your phone pointed at anything, and just keep touching your screen in different areas and watch your exposure change. The phone is going to focus wherever you touch. And it's going to gauge the exposure on that focus point. There are a lot of other apps that you can use to take photos, and some of them will actually enable you to use your smart phone, like a camera. And if that's a skill that you have that you want to use by all means, go ahead. If not, if you are using the native camera app that came with your phone. And by that I mean, there's probably a camera icon somewhere. And you open that up to take your photos. That's the native camera app that came with your phone. And focus and exposure are married together. So when you do touch the screen, you say that you want your phone to focus there. If you hold your finger down, a sunshine is gonna pop up. Like I said, it doesn't matter which platform you're using. A sunshine will pop up, I promise you. And if you move your finger up or down, you will notice your exposure getting brighter or darker. Keep your finger on, hold it down, and slide it up and down to choose your exposure. Remember the project video, one of your assignments is to create a photo with a balanced exposure. This is how you balance your exposure when you're taking photos with your smartphone. Remember, I talked about the rule of thirds and we went into our Settings and we turned on our grid. So maybe at one of those intersecting points is where you want your phone to focus. So you're holding down there, right? Remember, and the exposure is good and maybe you don't need to slide your finger up or down with the sunshine. Maybe you do, it's up to you. But maybe that composition isn't quite what you want. It pay attention because I'm going to teach you a pro tip. There's something called focusing and recomposing. When you hold your finger down and you keep it there, your phone will lock focus. It's going to stay focused on that specific object. And if you want to create a different composition, you slide your phone to the right, to the left, up or down. And that object is going to stay in focus and you're going to create a different composition. Remember that phrase, focus and recompose and want you to try it. Show me, send me your photos, saved them in the project. I'd love to see them. Let's head on over to Lesson five, where we're going to learn about lighting. Let's go. 7. Use natural light.: Welcome to lesson five, where we're going to learn about lady. In lesson five, we're going to learn we should use natural light whenever it's possible, use the natural light available. Shooting with as much natural light as you can find is ideal for any image. It's also ideal if you can use window light. I have a huge window right here and I'm using the majority of window light to make these videos. I actually always make sure I am window light on the sides of my subjects no matter what it is, it could be a potato on the counter or person for a portrait. Here's another key tip, and this one is important. Keep your flash off. Your flash on your smartphone is really close to your lens. When your flash is really close to your lens, that is actually really good at making your photo looked like AKA has port. We'll know what passport photos look like, right? If you're one of those people that have a really good passport photo, maybe you don't know what I mean. Grab your friends passport. I promise you, you'll see what I mean. Leaving the camera flash off might feel weird. But remember in lesson four, you learned all about how to create a balanced exposure. You touch where you want to focus. Keep your finger on the screen. Let the sunshine show up. Move your finger up and down. And you're going to pick your exposure at the same time. Consider using the HDR in your photo app if you want to create an image that is high dynamic range without your flash, what does high dynamic range mean? Or HDR? Basically, what your smartphone does is take a variety of different exposures and blends them together. There's a lot of HDR apps out there. If you really like that, look, if not, you can use the one that comes with your phone. They're all usually pretty good. I highly suggest you try it, especially if you are taking some portraits and might give you a little unique look that you really enjoy. If you're taking a landscape photo, photo of an object, use all the natural light or available light that you can find. Sometimes it'll come from a light bulb. You can use that too. It's naturally what you have at the time. If you are photographing and object, move around it, notice how the latest falling on it and decide where you want to fit it on the screen. Where does the light hit it the best? Where are you going to frame it? Remember our four lines and our grid? You wanna put it at an intersecting point. You want to break the rule and put it outside of an intersecting point. Try it. The key is to slow down and think about your composition. And think about how you can make use of the light that's available. Alright? Now we know a whole lot. How do you think your smart phone photography game is going? Is it getting better? Excellent. Let's head on over to lesson six. I'm going to talk about post-production. What do I mean by post-production? We're gonna give our photos a little quick edit. I'm going to give you some tips and tricks and then you're ready to roll. So let's go. 8. Post production is key.: Welcome back. We are in lesson six where we're going to talk about post-production. We're going to talk about editing our images a little bit. It's great to give them a second look at helps you remember why he took that photo and maybe you can make it a little bit better with a few simple tips. A bit of post-production will be worth it, I promise. Taking a second look at your photos will reconnect to you to the moment that you took that photo. You'll remember why you framed that subject or why you chose to use that portion of the rule of thirds, or why you chose that balanced exposure, or how you use that natural light. And taking a second look also gives you a chance to make that photo even better. There are a lot of apps available on any platform that can help you at it in a way that works for you. A lot of them are free. So find what works for you. I'm gonna give you some suggestions. Find the one that you're most comfortable with. And when you open up your photo in that app, do a quick overall exposure adjustment. Sometimes this is a magic wand. Then you want to check the crop. When you open the crop, it'll probably give you the opportunity to make sure your horizon is nice and straight. And you might want to maybe change the crop a little bit. Maybe there's something kind of peak in on an edge that you wanna take out that'll make the photo even better. You can use apps like after light, VSCO, snap seed, or even Photoshop Express. There's an app that I use that I really like. It doesn't really specific crop. It's called diptych, DIP TIC, post-production or editing will also enable you to get rid of color casts. Sometimes weird little color casts can pop up. And you can use different sliders for warmth, cool, black point like point. Move that slider all the way over to the left and then all the way over to the right. And you will see it's going to look pretty extreme. But try it. It's going to show you what things looked like and you're going to get a lot more familiar if you figure out how the tools work. And this is one way to figure them out. I highly recommend giving post-production a try if you are using anything else to take photos, if you're using a DSLR or mirrorless camera, odds are you're taking those photos and using some sort of postproduction editing software to edit those photos. You want to do the same thing with the photos that you create on your phone. Try what works for you and set up a little workflow. You are going to use filters, make sure that you're consistent with them. Because if you're posting on social media, you want to make sure that the look and feel of your feed is consistent. Alright, that wraps up lesson six. Less than seven is a whole bunch of tips and tricks. So we have the meat and potatoes under our belt. Let's take a look at Desert. 9. Tips to get you started.: Welcome to lesson seven. Tips to get you started, or maybe even to inspire you and wanted you to have fun with this. If you're using your images to post on Instagram, try shooting in the square format. It'll help your composition and create consistency. Turn off live mode. When you first open your smartphone, you take it out of the box and you open that photo app. Live mode is on. You can turn it off. Try different perspectives. Get high, get low, go to the right, go to the left. Think about taking photos at different angles. Remember, zoom with your feet, chute the inside and the outside. Are you on vacation or you outside? A really beautiful historic monument. And then you get to go inside. Shoot both. Remember, you're gonna tell a photo story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Emphasize the details. You're going to need them later to tell the story. Use people in your photo for scale. They can just be walking through. They don't have to be looking at you and smiling. They can just be there. Look for lines and shapes. There's a thing called leading lines in design. And they create symmetry. They can create beautiful patterns. Look for those, capture them, slow down, and take the time to frame your shots. What's happening in between those four lines? How are you using your grid? Once your composition, like if you want, create a shot list, write down a wishlist of photos that you wanna take, carried around in a little notebook in your purse or in your pocket, or in the app on your phone. This one is key. Make sure your lens is fingerprint free. Give your lens a Wipe. Not with your finger, but with the same cloth you might use to clean your glasses. Whenever you can try to remove clutter, right? You wanna make sure that you're taking a nice, clean, well composed photo without clutter. If you can't avoid the clutter, then make it work for you. A tripod can be handy. This is mine. It's nice and bendy. I can put it around different things. And your phone just kinda gets squeezed in. You can get one of these for about $20. You can pick them up at a local camera store. Or if you want to help out, Jeff Bezos, order it on Amazon. That's about it for all the tips that I have to get you started, I'm really looking forward to seeing your project images. And I look forward to seeing you use these tips and tricks to create some awesome smartphone images. 10. Thank you!: Thank you very much for taking this journey with me to learn how to take better photos with your smart phone, please share your projects in the class project section, I've shared mind for you to see and maybe gather some inspiration from. I would love to hear what you thought of the class. I welcome your feedback and please follow along. I'm uploading a new class every month and I would love to have you join me. Thanks for being a part of skill share and this wonderful community. Happy picture taking. I can't wait to see what you do.