There's no denying it - mobile photography is better than ever.
Not only are the phones in our pockets more capable of taking stellar photos, but the apps available for editing those photos are second-to-none, allowing photographers of all types to create extraordinary photos.
With the addition of an incredible slate of accessories for phones that run the gamut from tripods to cases to lenses, we have the makings for a very powerful (and convenient) system for taking some pretty great photos.
I use my phone to take photos every single day, and I'm betting most of you do as well.
Given the frequency with which phones are being used for photography, let's have a look at a few things you can do to make your mobile photos shine a little brighter.
It's an understatement to say that there are a lot of editing apps available today, with more added to the Google Play and iTunes stores each day.
Sifting through all that can be a daunting task, so I've taken the liberty of choosing two that offer tons of features for all different types of mobile photography.
One of the top choices of mobile photographers, VSCO gives you tons of options for enhancing your photos.
Their collection of presets is second to none, ranging from dark and moody black-and-white effects to clean, crisp, and minimal filters.
VSCO also has powerful tools for making adjustments to shadows and highlights, color temperature, contrast, and sharpness. It's camera functions are top-notch as well.
It's a community too. Share your photos with the VSCO community and like those shared by other VSCO users.
Another highly popular app is Snapseed.
With 26 tools and features, you can do everything from adjusting the perspective of the shot to working with HDR files to simply adjusting color and contrast.
What's more, Snapseed gives you precise control over the changes you make with easy adjustment tools that are tough to beat.
Crop, rotate, and adjust the white balance on your images for a finely-tuned final result, and even work on RAW DNG files. That's an incredible level of functionality that will have you creating inspired photos in no time!
In the video above, David Cogen of TheUnlockr offers his insights into Snapseed and VSCO, as well as four other excellent apps worth checking out.
I think you'll see that the level of control that these apps offer mobile photographers is something to behold!
Get Inspired - But Don't Copy
One of the simplest things you can do to better your photos is to get inspiration from other photographers.
Even better, some photographers add a description of their workflow - the apps they use, the accessories that helped them get the shot, and the specific settings they used to edit the photo - right there in the image description.
Apps like Mextures even give you the ability to check out what other people have done by using the same editing formulas. You can also import that code and modify it to your liking right within the app.
What's important here is to examine photos and talk with other photographers about how they edit their work. Ask questions and be inquisitive, but don't just copy other people's work. Use other people's creativity as a means to inspire your own creativity that results in an aesthetic that's unique to you.
Develop a Workflow
Just like you have a workflow with a "traditional" camera, you should devise a system that works for your smartphone images.
That system will depend on who you are and what your preferences are, as well as the apps you use.
As a general rule of thumb, start out by identifying how you can best capture photos. If that means using your phone's camera, so be it. If that means choosing a camera app to tackle that task, that's fine too.
From there, identify the order in which you process your photos.
For me, I like to put my images through Lightroom Mobile for basic processing like cropping, adjusting the exposure, and managing color effects. From there, I put the image through VSCO to add creative elements like filters and highlight and shadow effects.
For other mobile photographers, the workflow might be as simple as taking the shot and using tools in apps like Instagram to do a very light edit. Yet others might prefer more control over the final product and opt to use something like Mextures to create a final product with light leaks, gritty effects, and layered elements.
The key is to try a few things and figure out what works best for you. It will take some time to get into a workflow, but once you do, that effort will be worth the improved results! Get some ideas for how to perfect your workflow in the video above with Michael Chaize and Adobe Creative Cloud.
Good Smartphone Accessories Make Processing Easier
You can have all the apps you want and the best workflow in the world, but if you don't start the process by taking quality photos with quality gear, you'll face a mountain of unnecessary challenges.
Here's what I mean...
I think we can all agree that smartphone lenses have come a long way in recent years, and they can produce some pretty good results.
But why rely on that lens when you can add a high-quality lens on top of it to get improved clarity and sharpness?
Sirui has a new line of smartphone lenses that expand your ability to get the best shot in-camera, thus making processing the images you take a smoother, quicker process.
Take a look at the image below, which was taken with an iPhone with a 60mm Sirui Portrait Lens attached.
I have to say, I'm more than impressed with the sharpness that the Sirui lens was able to obtain.
What that means for you is that with such a sharp initial photo, you don't have to fiddle around with sharpness in post-processing. That gives you more time to concentrate on other creative aspects of the image, like enhancing the colors, contrasts, adding layered elements, and so forth.
What each lens has in common is that the elements are made from German Schott glass for optimum quality and clarity. Additionally, these lenses have several layers of anti-reflection coating, which ensures high levels of light transmission for clear, bright photos.
What's more, Sirui has managed to pack a few additional punches into its line of smartphone lenses: they minimize distortion, have reduced vignetting, and produce accurate colors so your images more closely reflect what you see with your own eyes.
Picking up one of these lenses, you immediately feel quality construction. The lens housings are metal for long-lasting durability. Their bayonet bases fit perfectly with Sirui's adapters and cases as well.
Even better, the smartphone lenses by Sirui are priced aggressively, so you get excellent results without having to spend a ton of money.
If you're serious about improving the quality of your smartphone photos, there's no better way to do so than get your post-processing workflow dialed in. Snag a few editing apps for your phone and outfit it with a Sirui lens, and I'm betting you'll be more than pleased with the results!