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If you're like me, you use your smartphone as much for photography as you do to talk or text.
It's the nature of the beast these days...
And where not that long ago photos taken with your smartphone left a lot to be desired in the quality and resolution department, that's no longer the case.
Today's smartphones are packed with photography features that help us all take better photos.
It's just a matter of using those features - and add-on accessories - to take those photos to yet another level.
Here's a few things to keep in mind that will help you take better portraits with your mobile phone.
Get a Lens
Your phone's lens isn't bad, but with an add-on lens, it could be even better.
By that I mean that with an add-on lens like the Kenko Real Pro 0.65x Wide/Macro lens shown above, you get far more versatility out of your phone for taking photos.
On the one hand, a wide-angle lens is ideal for taking photos of groups of people - your friends at the beach, your family at a backyard BBQ, and so forth.
Additionally, with a wide-angle lens, you can take selfies that actually incorporate more of your surroundings in the frame.
On the other hand, a wide-angle view is great for landscapes and cityscapes too.
But because this lens is a two-in-one, you can take awesome macro shots with it as well.
Just focus in on a small detail - a person's hands, for example - and take a unique and unexpected portrait
When looking for an add-on lens for your phone, you want to get something that's got a good design and uses quality materials.
What I like about the Kenko lens is that it clips onto my phone. I don't need a special phone case. There's no weird mounts for the lens to screw into.
Instead, I just clip it on and start taking photos - it's as easy as that!
Kenko is also known worldwide for its quality materials, in this case, the fine-processed glass that make up the optical elements.
With other lenses, you have to worry about image degradation, but that's just not the case here.
Taking great portraits certainly depends on a lot of factors - your creative eye, your ability to communicate with the model, and the lighting, to name a few.
But as I've learned, by having the appropriate gear - and gear that's well made and easy to use - the quality of my smartphone portraits has benefitted greatly.
Learn to Communicate
Unless you're using your phone for street photography, you should constantly be giving your model feedback regarding what they're doing.
That means giving them direction about how they're posed, how they're smiling (or not smiling!), what they're doing with their hands, and so forth. After all, the portrait above didn't make itself - the photographer directed the model on how he should pose.
Additionally, tell them what your goal is - do you want them to look excited or sad? Pensive or angry? Should they sit or stand, look at the camera or off-camera?
The more communicative you are, the better your model will understand what they need to do so you can get the shot you want.
Granted, if you're making a portrait of a baby or a dog, the lines of communication will be somewhat limited.
But that shouldn't stop you from giving them feedback in any way you can (i.e. baby talk for a baby or a treat for your dog when he's done what you want).
In the end, even saying things like "Yes, that's it!" or "You look beautiful!" are enough to give the model more confidence to continue doing what they're doing.
But if you just stand there behind your phone and offer nothing in the way of communication, you'll likely find that your model has no idea what to do - and your photos will suffer for it.
Make Manual Adjustments
As powerful as today's smartphone cameras might be, they still have their limitations (thus the need for an add-on lens!).
That's why camera apps are a necessary addition to your smartphone.
By using something like VSCO Cam, you not only get an incredible suite of editing tools, but you also get more sophisticated camera controls.
For example, you can shoot in RAW, adjust exposure compensation and white balance, and even set the shutter speed and ISO as well.
That last one - ISO - is extremely important because many native smartphone cameras will automatically adjust the ISO as the lighting conditions change. That's why photos in dim lighting are often so grainy, but as seen above, with VSCO, they aren't.
By taking those controls away from your phone and putting them in your hands, you're more likely to get the kind of portraits that make you say "WOW" as opposed to the ones that make you say "What went wrong?"
If you want even more great portrait photography tips for smartphones, check out the video below by Amanda Margareth: