Now that you’ve got a good idea about the advantages of taking photos with your mobile phone, the tools and apps you can use to increase your phone’s functionality as a camera, and some compositional and editing tips under your belt, the last step is to find inspiration for photos.
We’ve put together a short list of potential subjects that will give you plenty of opportunities to create engaging, unique photos that are sure to please you and those that view them.
Taking photos on a vacation is a no-brainer. Not only are you taking time to relax with family or friends, which you will certainly want to document for posterity, you’re also visiting fun and interesting places that offer you a chance to take photos of subject matter that’s out of the norm for you. Whether you’re in an airport, on a cruise ship, visiting a foreign country, or just taking it easy a few miles from home, there are sights, colors, people, and many other exciting subjects that you can photograph. Take photos of the big moments on your trip - national parks, hot air balloon rides, and the like, but don’t forget the little moments too. The kids in the hotel pool and the view out the car window as you speed by on the freeway can turn into amazing photos!
Hit the Streets
If you live in or near a big city (or if you travel to one!) there are all sorts of opportunities to take photos with your phone. Walk the streets and take candid portraits of passersby. Go to a park and get some nature shots. Stand at the base of a skyscraper and practice your architecture photography skills. Mass transit is another excellent subject, with all kinds of different people, shapes, colors, and textures present in a small space like a subway car or a taxi.
The special days in our lives - birthdays, anniversaries, and holiday celebrations - are perfect subjects for mobile photography. You can slip in and out of the crowd, taking photos of people really without them even realizing it. Snap some wonderful candid photos as people celebrate, explore the venue and see what photographic opportunities await there, and take some time to focus on the little details of the day too.
As we’ve hit on in previous lessons in this series, the convenience of using your phone as a camera means you have a bit more freedom to shoot when and where you please. There’s no lugging around big camera bags or heavy equipment - just you, your phone, and whatever small accessories you might have for it. With such ease of movement, you can easily capture moments throughout your day, things that might seem mundane, but once caught on camera, can be turned into a magical photographic moment.
The trick is to look for things that interest you - a color, a texture, or a pattern, for example. Take photos of your home, your kids, your friends, or your dog. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular, but with the right composition and editing, you can turn it into a real winning photo!
There’s a reason why we highlighted landscape composition tips in our mobile photography series: a lot of people love to take photos of landscapes, especially with their phones.
Despite the limitations of your phone’s zoom, flash, sensor, and other technical pieces and parts, it is still capable of taking a quality image of a landscape. But since landscape images are a dime a dozen, strive to find new perspectives or develop interesting ways to edit your landscapes to make them stand out from the crowd. Just like with portraits, play with lines and shapes, light and shadow, and color to achieve a more interesting image.
One of the best subjects for mobile photography are the people in your lives. It’s just too easy to pull out your phone, set the exposure, and take a photo of your kids, your friends, or other loved ones.
Take typical portraits, like those that focus on the subject’s face, but also try to get creative with the types of compositions you create. Highlight different body parts, like hands or feet, the eyes, or the lips. Look for candid moments when your subject is relaxed, having fun, or plainly expressing an emotion. Play with light and shadow and see what kind of moody portrait you can create by focusing on a person’s shadow. Take a few pet portraits too and see how you can compose a killer image of the family pet. The possibilities here are endless!
Try a Theme
If you really want to add some continuity to your photos, think about developing a theme that extends over the course of a dozen or two dozen shots. You can take one of the ideas mentioned above and create a series of portraits, you can use the same editing technique to give your shots continuity, like converting them all to black and white, or you can think of an idea, like “happiness” or “luck” to highlight in your photos. The result can be a powerful series of photos that have a much greater impact than individual images.
Take a Cue From Others
There’s nothing wrong with seeing what other people are doing and putting your own spin on their ideas. Take a peek at photos on Instagram or Flickr to get subject ideas. Review photos for how they look and how they were edited, and use that to better inform you of your own personal editing style. Join others on social media to share your thoughts and ask questions about mobile photography. You can even join the LightBox community by purchasing their Photography Card Mobile Edition set and find an entire year’s worth of ideas for taking photos with your phone. Join challenges, interact with other LightBox customers on social media, upload and share your photos to get feedback, and offer feedback to others as well.
When it comes down to it, generating ideas for your mobile photos is really all about community. After all, our smartphones enable us to remain connected virtually everywhere, so why not put that functionality to good use and harness that power to interact with others that are interested in mobile photography? The more photos you take and edit, the more images you upload and share, and the more connections you make with other mobile photographers, the more inspiration you will find for your photos!