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How I’m Getting Started with Mobile Photography
Sep 28, 2019
6 minutes read

I started to develop an interest in photography while building Stellar Photos, a browser extension that shows a new hi-res photo from Unsplash on each new tab page. The aim for building that extension was mostly to learn how browser extensions worked, and I achieved that satisfactorily.

However, in the process of curating and looking at photos on the site, I began to develop an interest in picking up photography as a hobby. As an activity to take my mind off my primary job which is Software development.

I wanted to purchase a camera at first, but after doing some research I saw the prices were quite expensive (even for the supposedly entry-level DSLRs) and I wasn’t ready to invest so much into something I wasn’t even sure was going to stick.

On further research, I discovered that mobile photography was a real thing and that it would cost me literally nothing to get started with it since I already had a smartphone. And that’s how it all began.

Atican Beach

I started to take photos more frequently. And, of course, most of them were dog shit (and probably still are) but through reading articles, learning composition and editing skills, and also the technical aspects (like ISO, shutter speed, e.t.c.), I’ve been able to improve a bit since I started.

I’m still a long way off producing what I consider to be quality work, but I think there’s potential in what I’m doing and I want to follow through to see just how far I can take it.

Smartphone and Tools

I have two phones at the moment, an iPhone 7, and a Samsung Galaxy S10+. I take most photos on the S10+ as it has a built-in pro mode which allows me to control my exposure to a much greater extent and also provides RAW capture. On the iPhone, I make use of Halide for the same reason.

I only started to shoot in RAW recently, but even as a newbie to RAW capture, I can already appreciate the editing capabilities that it enables when post processing.

Polo park mall

All my editing is currently done on my phones though Lightroom Mobile and VSCO. Both can be downloaded and used for free, but I subscribed to the full versions to get access to the all the tools they have to offer. One thing I should mention here is that VSCO is quite bad on Android phones in my experience, so I only recommend it if you have an iPhone.

I also purchased the Canon Selphy CP1300 Printer to print some of my shots. I think it’s amazing that one can get good quality prints from a smartphone. I didn’t know it was even possible until I saw for myself.

How I’m learning

A big part of learning photography is actually going out to take photos. I still don’t do this as often as I should, but there’s been a massive improvement in the last couple of weeks.

I’m also reading blogs, and watching videos to learn various techniques, composition skills and how to come up with ideas. Two YouTube channels that I’ve found particularly helpful are Jamie Windsor and Sean Tucker. Both go beyond the technical aspects of photography and discuss more of the creative side. Jamie also displays some insane creativity in his video production.

A taxi speeding through Challenge road, Ilorin

I’ve also taken to reading some books about photography. The one I’m currently reading is Understanding Exposure, which provides some insights on how to properly expose photos. Although much of what is written there is only relevant to those using DSLRs, it’s still a good read for anyone with more than a passing interest in photography.

As for content specific to mobile photography, I’ve found Iphone Photography School and nocamerabag to be two of the best resources in this space. Both blogs target iPhone photographers in particular, but I’ve found that 99% of the insights can be adapted to other smartphones as well.

What this blog is about

A major reason for starting this blog is to document my journey into photography and watch how I improve over time. I think it is important to appreciate the learning process in any creative endeavour and this is my way of doing just that.

A second reason is to teach others what I learn, to discuss ideas and to show that mobile photography is not limited to just the iPhone. Because one thing that has stuck out to me in the months of reading and learning about mobile photography is that the vast majority of content is targeted at iPhone users.

While I understand that the iPhone is world’s most popular camera, I think it’s important to demonstrate that mobile photography is not exclusive to iPhone users and that anyone can join this space regardless of their smartphone brand of choice.

To round up this post, I’d like to leave this amazing quote from Ira Glass. I think it’s amazing for anyone trying to learn a new creative venture and I always try to keep it in mind when I look at my photos and they are not quite as good as I’d like them to be.

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good.

It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.

Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.

Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

Thanks for reading. You can connect with me on Instagram or Twitter.

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