The Difference Between A Snapshot And A Photograph: See Tips For Mobile Photography

Recently, I spoke at the Wakafire Smartphone Photography Masterclass that was powered by TECNO Mobile at Social Media Week Lagos. It was a really exciting one for me, especially seeing the enthusiasm towards the art of Mobile Photography from the attendees of the event.

Mobile Photography has always been a thing and it is even becoming bigger with more creatives breaking limitations of inaccessible cameras and expensive equipment for shooting, reporting and documenting stories using just their smartphone.

Social Media Week presented me an opportunity to connect with my audience, share my story and also give tips on how you can take better pictures with your Smartphone to help you tell your own story.


Understanding Your Camera: Firstly, understanding your camera is key as there are still limitations to what a smartphone camera can do compared to professional DSLR cameras. Nonetheless, smartphone cameras are remarkably getting better with each new coming generations and to maximize this technology requires you to understand them. High-end smartphone cameras offer manual controls and that’s basically same controls that you have in professional DSLRs.

All am saying is that you go into your camera settings, mess with them and try to know what works and what doesn’t, what to avoid when shooting and what to go for. While phone A camera might tend to have more realistic colors which will work fine for post-production, phone B might tend towards already saturated colors which might do well for posting on social media right away, depending on the type of photograph you are looking to create.

Composition: This is a broad area of photography that requires continuous learning but already, right this minute, you should know, Composition is a mix of the ingredients that come together to a make a photograph visually appealing. Examples being:

– Rule of thirds(Activate Gridlines on Smartphone Camera): Placing your subject at points where the vertical and horizontal lines cut across each other.

– Leading Lines/Symmetry: Just as the name goes, it is placing your subject in such a way the eyes of the viewer is lead directly into the picture using certain objects or elements in the frame. e.g Imagine a rail track or see image below for idea.

– Natural Frames: These are elements we often see outside that guides the subject of the photograph from any form of distraction. It could be shooting through a pillars of a wall, windows, trees, basically anything that cuts away distractions from the image.

– Gestures: This is especially for street photographers. Hand gestures, facial expressions, walking or seating positions can help for a richer image.

-Textures and Patterns: Patterns and Textures are all around us if we only learn to see them. They may even be just objects that help us to understand the photograph better. Highlighting these elements and including them in our frames often lead to powerful and striking images.

 Timing and Patience: Having mentioned compositional elements earlier, it brings me to the point “There’s a difference between a Snapshot and Photograph”. While the former sounds like you, when you just whip out your phone out of your pocket and hit the shutter, the latter sounds like me, taking my time to properly compose my image, often waiting patiently for conditions and elements to fall in place before I hit the shutter.

Empathy(Documentary Photography): Empathy requires that you are able to feel and understand the emotional state of another person. This is by far the most important tip to documentary photography because with empathy brings better communication and with better communication brings understanding. When you have all these, documenting a story becomes easy because you don’t have to watch your back and most importantly the people you are photographing have permitted you to do so, showing a side of them that wouldn’t be seen ordinarily.

Post Production: There are tons of professional mobile photography Apps, that I think the most important thing is to find one that works best for the type of photography you do. Snapseed, however, happens to be my preferred editing app because it has robust controls to play with and it is entirely free. Other noteworthy Mobile Photography Apps are VSCO, Lightroom, Photoshop.

Finally, there are no rules to photography, only guidelines and most importantly, all this shit here won’t make a difference for you don’t go out to practice everyday! See more of my work on INSTAGRAM

Share these Tips if you find it interesting and let me know in the comment section below if you have questions or any other thing you would like me to talk about.

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