Do I hire a photographer or can I use my phone?

understanding the limitations of smartphone cameras can help you decide what you can safely take yourself and what's worth making an investment.

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Smartphone or Hire a Professional

I don’t need a brand shoot I’ve got a camera on my phone, I can take them myself. I have the latest smartphone with a great camera on it

I hear this all the time, but there are limitations on what your smartphone can do.

Megapixels Mean Better Photo Quality?

The pixel count on your smartphone may be the same or greater than on some cameras. However, the tiny size of the sensor in a smartphone means the image quality is always going to be lower than photos taken with a professional camera. Cramming in more pixels means each pixel is smaller, not that the quality is any better.  The size of a sensor in a phone is about 1cm, in professional camera they are 3 times the size 35mm. The sensor captures the light the bigger the sensor the more light the better your final image will be.

Smartphone Lenses.

Smartphone lenses are typically made of molded plastic, not glass. Many lens manufacturers famous for their glass have partnered with smartphone companies. They produce pressed plastic lenses, not glass ones. They are cheap and no real comparison to any quality camera lens.

Along with the sensor, the lens makes the biggest impact on image quality. The better your lens, the higher quality photographs are possible.

Digital Zoom Creates Very Poor Quality Photos

The only capacity to zoom in with a smartphone camera is to use the digital zoom function. The digital zoom function enlarges the area of the photo. This means the picture quality is reduced.

Making a great impression

There’s that old line about how you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Don’t expect to see a photo taken with your smartphone look great on a monitor or in print. Photos you take on your phone may look good on your phone, but often will not look so wonderful when enlarged.

Sometimes knowing a few phone photography tips will get you some good snapshots, but a professional camera in good hands will produce much higher quality photos.

Not everyone has the budget to hire a professional photographer for every single picture they need for their business. But understanding the limitations of smartphone cameras can help you decide what you can safely take yourself and what’s worth making an investment.

Here are a few dos and don'ts when it comes to smartphone photos.

Great for: Social Media Photos

Any smart marketer knows that pictures are at the heart of your social media presence. Simply put, images create more user engagement than any other kind of post, owning a smartphone means it’s never been easier to provide regular, meaningful updates on all your social media channels.

Not Great for: Websites

Your website is often a person’s first impression of your business. Smartphones take great photos, but the compressed size of smartphone photos mean they are rarely large enough to look great on all devices-especially for background photos. Fuzzy, granulated, discoloured, or distorted pictures look unprofessional and might very well cost you business.

Sometimes Good for: Headshots

If you’re desperate photos but really don’t have the budget, a smartphone camera can be used for headshots in a pinch. Just make sure the person is well lit, try to frame the person similarly in each photo, and use a tripod. Then, when the budget allows, upgrade to professional headshots.

Smartphone cameras continue to improve. Whilst you may not have control over functions like aperture & shutter speed, used properly they are capable of taking a professional style image, that you can use for your digital content. And when your budget allows, upgrade to professional shots.

How to take better photos with your smartphone.

My tips on how to take high-quality photographs for your business using only your smartphone camera.

Clean your Lens

Your phone is rattling around you bag, your pocket picking up all sorts of dirt and grime. You want your lens to be free from smears, your photos will look better.

Look for the Light

Phone cameras always perform better in natural light & struggle in dim or low light. I would never even try to use the tiny built-in flash on a smartphone, it is worse than useless! You want to keep things simple. Where possible and whatever the subject, take your photos outside or in front of a large window. Aim for a nice even light across the whole image, avoiding too much shadow or harsh contrast. Bright, indirect sunlight is an ideal light source for most photos.

Your very first thought before taking a photo should be about the light. The word photography means ‘drawing with light’. If you don’t have light, you won’t have a photo & fundamentally, photography is simply capturing the way light falls on a subject.

Remove the distractions

Remove anything distracting from where you are shooting, you don’t want your washing, kid’s toys or the washing up in the background of your photos.

Composition

Think carefully about the composition of your photo. Many smartphones have the option of a grid overlay, use it. It helps keep your images straight and divides your frame up into thirds.  Don’t feel as if you always have to shoot your subject matter straight on. Get creative with the angles and perspectives. Show things to your viewer in a different way.

Shake

If you are shooting products try using a small tripod or stand to stabilise your phone. This is important to make sure your photos are sharp and consistent as camera shake from movement equals blurry photos. You don’t need anything expensive or complicated, something simple with a smartphone clip will do the job perfectly well.

Every tap of the screen to snap a photo you run the risk of shaking the camera while it’s capturing the image. You want your photos to be sharp and even a tiny movement can make a huge difference to the quality of the image. You can use the volume button on your headphones to snap away!

Tripods & remote releases are also great for taking selfies… I mean, you are your business, you need to be in photos!

Portrait or Landscape

All smartphone can shoot pictures horizontally and vertically. Shoot in landscape orientation. Look at websites, the majority of images are landscape. Shoot landscape format, you’ll thank me later.

Don’t zoom in

When you use the digital zoom on your phone the quality of your photo deteriorates. For your business to look professional online, you want your photos to be the best image quality possible. This is really simple; get closer to your subject rather than zooming in.

Get Sharp

Focus is critical to make your images look professional. Tap the screen to choose your point of focus, make sure it is always, always, always on your subject matter. Get your focus right I have nothing else to say.