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How to Capture the Perfect Moment Using Your Phone

How to Capture the Perfect Moment Using Your Phone

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Samsung . All opinions expressed are my own. All information is accurate as of time of posting.
*All images are copyrighted Allons.Y Styling & Photography. Please do not use or re-post without written consent and provide credit where applicable

Just a few short weeks ago, I did something I never thought I would ever do – host a class on mobile photography. It was only about 2 years ago that I left my job in the financial services industry to pursue a career in photography and digital content creation. As someone who has never studied photography, or even arts in general, I still find it hard to believe that I now get to do something creative and something that I’m incredibly passionate about everyday as my career. Even more unbelievable is that it all started with me taking pictures of my lunch using my phone. When I started taking pictures a few years ago, I wouldn’t have even considered it a hobby, but as I started to do it more frequently, I absolutely fell in love with it.


My phone was a great way for me to get started in photography. I didn’t necessarily want or have the means to be spending thousands of dollars on professional cameras and equipment. Plus it was something I already owned and was already carrying around with me, without any additional weight. I loved my Samsung Galaxy phone specifically because the camera was not only amazing quality, but also offered a lot of features that you would already find in the professional SLR cameras. Features that allowed you to adjust things like white balance, ISO, and even give you the ability to adjust the depth of field to give you that dreamy blurred background. It’s the reason why I have been using the Samsung Galaxy for 5 generations now and continue to use it to this day.


With a little practice and my phone here is a little overview of what I discussed in the workshop I hosted on mobile photography. It’s just a little taste of how I go about using my phone to capture the moments I want to bring to life:


Create a Mood

Whenever I take a picture I try to capture an entire scene. It’s not just about one single thing.

Find the Perfect Spot for Your Photo

The first thing I do when I walk into a space is look it up and down, and sometimes I’ll take a quick walk around just to make sure I’ve seen everything. Once I’ve found the perfect spot to take a photo, that’s where I’ll try to situate myself. Sometimes it’s a cozy corner that has some interesting artwork or at a table that’s right by the most gorgeous tile work. Look for something that catches your eye, or what you think makes the space unique and beautiful, and get to work on showcasing it!


Use What’s Around You and Draw it into Your Photo

Whether it’s a really pretty creamer, salt and pepper shaker, or showing off those amazing floor tiles draw different elements from right around you into your photos. It’s a great way to give the viewer a sense of atmosphere as opposed to just focusing on say that delicious looking brunch main you just ordered. Little details that you fill your frame with really add to the sense of mood in a picture.

Mobile Photography: Showcase the Beauty in every Spot
Mobile Photography: Showcase the Beauty in every Spot


Composition Using the Rule of Thirds

Once you’ve decided what you want to showcase in your photo, how do you set it up? For me (and most photographers) I like to follow the “Rule of Thirds”. Imagine your frame is being split up by two horizontal and two vertical lines, which essentially section the frame off into thirds. If you’re like me and have a terrible time imagining these lines, your phone should have an option to turn on these grid lines, which won’t actually appear on your photo, but just give you a visual of where these lines are. Once your grid lines are on, place your subject matter at one of the intersecting points. This is easiest way to get a pleasing composition.

Mobile Photography: Follow the Rule of Thirds for Easy and Aesthetically Pleasing Composition
Mobile Photography: Follow the Rule of Thirds for Easy and Aesthetically Pleasing Composition


Capturing Authenticity

My personal approach and style to photography is that I like things to look as realistic as possible. Unfortunately, you don’t necessarily always have the ideal light or setup. Maybe it’s incredibly dreary outside or you’re in a dark room and it’s hard to capture that perfect snap without all that beautiful sunshine streaming through. Don’t sweat it too much, I actually think capturing a situation realistically is quite beautiful, even if it is dark or a little moody. In fact, you might even want to highlight that because that is what capturing the moment is all about!


Low Light Settings

The camera on my phone has all sorts of settings that let me capture the moment in the exact way that, I want even if the situation isn’t ideal (like it is in dark rooms). I often bump up my ISO to a higher number and adjust the white balance based on the type of lighting that I’ve encountered. Believe it or no,t the picture of the flowers below was taken in an incredibly dark room with no windows and nothing but very dim pot lighting in the shop!

Mobile Photography: Adjust white balance and increase ISO
Mobile Photography: Adjust white balance and increase ISO in dark situations


Use a Practical Light Source

A lot of times when it’s dark people will automatically turn on their flash…and it absolutely makes me cringe. I guess because my style is all about realistic captures and a flash is anything but realistic. The flash often blows out a photo and sometimes can cast a sickly orange or yellow tint to a photo, or my personal pet peeve, the red eyes that make everyone look like Satan’s entourage.


Instead of using your flash, work with light sources that are already available to you and, of course, using the pro settings on your phone. The picture below was taken in a dimly lit room with the only source of light being the light fixture pictured. Situations like these can be tough because the background is very dim but the light is much brighter than the rest of the space, so often what you end up with when taking a photo is a light fixture that is blown out and a background that is too dark to make out the details. Once again, bump up that ISO, but using the exposure compensation setting lower your exposure. It seems pretty counterintuitive since it’s already a dark room, but lowering the exposure compensation prevents the lights from getting blown out. Then in post processing I lightened the shadows on the photo to bring out the details in the shelves in the background without having to overexpose the light fixture.


Mobile Photography: Turn Down Your Exposure In Mixed Lighting
Mobile Photography: Turn Down Your Exposure in Mixed Lighting


Breaking Barriers

In addition to capturing things as realistically as possible, one of the things I love to do is to make the viewer of my photos feel like they are actually inside my picture, or can picture themselves inside the frame. It’s a great way to make a connection with your audience and as a creator I’m all about making people feel something. I do this in a few ways:


Incorporate Hands or Personal Items in a Photo

Incorporating hands in your photos is a great way to add life into a picture. It’s easier for the viewer to imagine that they are right there with you, or maybe there with their own friends enjoying the moment. I often ask my friends to pose with their hands so I can get the shot, but a lot of times I’m snapping away while they are actually eating!

Mobile Photography: Include hands in photos
Mobile Photography: Include hands in photos

Sometimes instead of including hands I use personal items in photos to give a sense that there is a person or multiple people in the photo without actually having people in the frame. A quick coffee meet-up with some friends in the picture below gives the sense that we’re actually there, despite not being in the picture at all. Use whatever you have on you whether it’s a purse, a wallet, sunglasses, or a notebook. It’s a great way to add a personal touch that helps to create a scene and tell a story.

Mobile Photography: Add personal items to photos to add realism
Mobile Photography: Add personal items to photos to add realism


Add “Action” or Movement

Adding action to your photo is another great way to add realism to a picture and definitely gives you the “in the moment” feeling. Adding movement can be as simple as asking someone to pour maple syrup on top of French toast, or stirring cream and sugar into a coffee. Clicking the shutter at just the right moment can be tricky though so in these types of situations I like to use the burst mode on the camera. Turning on the burst mode allows the camera to take multiple pictures in succession, so it leaves you with plenty of options to choose from so you get that exact moment when the syrup is being poured perfectly.

Mobile Photography: Add action to your photos
Mobile Photography: Add action to your photos

It’s pretty amazing what you can accomplish by just using a device that you carry with you every single day and that fits in your pocket. For me, it was the tool that propelled me into a whole new world of creativity which I fell completely in love with and eventually led me to a career which I am happy to wake up to every morning. It’s pretty magical what can happen when you take the time to appreciate the little things and using the tools you already have on hand with you.

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