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Phone Photography for New Photographers Starting Out

by Jakayla Toney 9 months ago in career

Find your eye with these tips

Phone Photography for New Photographers Starting Out
Taken from Iphone X/East Orange, NJ USA

Are you here because you don't have thousands of dollars for camera equipment and you want to take a good photo without spending any money? This article will tell you how you can have an amazing photo shoot with decent images to post online for your Instagram, start-up business, or any social media platform you use. All you need is your phone.

My name is Jakayla and I'm a professional portrait/street photographer in NYC who started off doing photo shoots with my Android and iPhone before I got a camera. That's right; I even made money doing photo shoots with my phone, charging for events like birthday parties, small weddings, school portraits...Yes, I did all of this with my phone in the beginning. I'll tell you how I did this now.

How to find your eye for photography

Shot with an iPhone, edited with a brown filter on VSCO

Think about the pictures you like and how they make you feel. Feel inspired by them. Don't frustrate yourself on trying to recreate them just yet. Just really think about what kind of photos make you go "WOW!"

Do you like nature? People? Animals? Find the subject of your photography to YOUR liking.

Once you're in a location you'd like to shoot, take out your phone. I tell new photographers that they should start off taking lots of photos. Why? Simply because you have a variety of photos to choose from.

Let's say you're taking a picture of a flower. Really look at the flower and it's beauty. From there with your phone, I want you to take maybe 20-30 photos BUT I want you to take them in different angles. I want you to stand and take the photo. Then I want you kneel down and take a close up photo. Then take one while laying down. Then take a photo with half the flower in focus.

You don't always have to be eye level with the subject of your pictures. Some people forget that they have the power to move around and explore the angles they have. And trust me-there are a lot of angles!

Do the same step with a person. Lay down while you're taking a picture of them or tell them to lay down so you can shoot a photo of them. You're not limitless and neither is your imagination and creativity.

When to use Flash on phone

Shot landscape mode on iPhone X using flash and dimming the light from phone

If you do a little editing you probably understand why I'm saying that I love shooting while flash is on-that is, nature and landscape subjects. I don't usually use on my own face but if someone would ask me to do street photography, I'd use my flash. Why? To capture more detail.

In the photo above of the fly on a leaf, I used flash to capture it and before dimming the lights down on the photo I had really good detail of it.

Here's another example:

King's Park Psychiatric Center shot on iPhone X with flash

Exit Sign found in Abandoned Building. Shot with iPhone X and flash

I hope you can see what I mean by using flash captures great detail. On my canon camera, I barely use my flash unless I have to but when I'm using my phone, I tend to use flash to pop out that detail.

Grids will save your life

Photo Grid

I cannot stress this enough when I tell people to use the grids on their phone-it will save your life. Okay, maybe not save your life but it'll help you capture what you're trying to.

Grids are meant to help FRAME your subject. For example:



See how the grid helps you balance out your photos? See how easy it is to see your subject? Everything's straight and it looks nice!

A photo of me I set up with my phone and camera stand and GRID

In the photo above, I put myself in a close range inside the grid to take this. It's not perfect, but this is when I started out using the grid. It guided me in where I placed my head, arms, hands, and even glasses. Not the best shot but we all start somewhere, right?


If you're reading this at night thinking, "I'm going to have a great photo shoot," then either I have good news or bad news for you. If you have good lightening then sure, go for it! If your lights are dim, I recommend either waiting until the morning or using flash somewhere in the bathroom.

I'm not saying your can't take good photos in dim lightening but it's just harder to get great quality images. So dear reader, in the morning if you want to shoot inside, go to the rooms where the windows are and snap away!

iPhone X shot by the window

Back camera vs front camera

I highly recommend using your back camera only because it captures so more detail BUT, that's up to your phone. In my personal experience on mine and other phones, I find using the back camera captures more detail and creates a more pleasing image. There's debate on this and it depends on you and your phone and your preference. I say that you should experiment a little with this to see what you prefer! I want everyone to be comfortable with their photos and not just because someone tells you. Everyone has a preference.

Wipe your phone camera lens

There's no doubt that you have finger prints on the lens of your phone camera. Get a little cloth and wipe it.

Focus points

Photos coming out blurry? Maybe you're not taking advantage of your focus point on your camera. If you tap the subject on your phone, your phone will focus in on it and sharpen that image. If you don't, your camera captures either everything else around it or it looks a bit fuzzy. Actually, I never knew about the focus points until someone taught me about it.

Focal points on iPhone x

Cheap things to buy if you want to become more advance.

Lastly if you have about 35$ bucks to spend, buy a camera stand and a light or ring light for your photos. You can find them cheap on Facebook stores or amazon.

This is the first stand I've ever brought for photography:

Be careful with it, it's a little flimsy if you don't take care of it. I've had mine for 3 years now.

Camera light:

I can go into colors, composition, and all types of things photography call for but this is for those trying to get their feet wet in the photography world. I believe in you!

If you liked this article please comment and let me know. I'd love to help anyone who needs pointers. Follow my photography Instagram: Jakayla Toney

Jakayla Toney
Jakayla Toney
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