17 Resolutions To Up Your Photography Game!
Happy 2017! I’m a few days late so perhaps I can turn avoid procastination into a resolution, however, one of my personal resolutions is to just chill and let things be so they kinda cancel each other out.
For the past 2 months, I’ve been building my mobile photography brand to establish and maintain my social media presence. I’m happy to say that I’ve managed to grow it to 120% following in a couple of weeks and ecstatic with the results. To keep the momentum going, I have created a list. Are they resolutions, you ask? Well I’ve never fulfilled those but here are 17 challenges instead, to up your mobile photography game!
17: Clean up your photo storage
It’s the onset of the year so why not start by cleaning up your phone’s storage. Not only will your phone run more efficiently, but the chance of you running out of phone space increases the more you put this off. This has happened to me several times and hate the feeling that I may have spent a minute or two; panic-stricken, missing the moment; deleting 237 of awful, self-shot photos of me on the grass with bad lighting.
16: Buy accessories for your phone
I don’t mean fancy cases or jack plugs of your favourite anime, but actual photography enhancers like an Ollo clip. It’s a great investment to give you a variety of perspectives on your photographic journey. To make it less expensive, pay attention to your style and photography habits and buy components of the Ollo individually. In the end, an investment can only be as good as its yield, so if you find that you take a lot of landscapes, then perhaps purchasing wide-angle lens can enhance your shots. If you want to change direction and take photos of ants and mushrooms, then the 10x or 15x macro lens is your best bet! Aside from the popular brand, you can also purchase knock-offs but try a few around as the quality may not be the same.
One of the best things I bought last year was a fill-in light like this one. It went on sale for $3 AUD (approximately 100Php) so it was such a good buy. It allows you to play with three light settings and my night selfies have never been the same since! Yey!
15: Shoot people
Calm down. I meant photograph them.
Oohh this is a difficult but fruitful challenge. Last year, I started photographing individuals who lived in the streets for a personal project. At first, I took photos of them sleeping as not to make it awkward but I got interested in their stories and found that they will always have one to tell. So don’t be afraid to converse with people and ask if you can take a photo of them and share their story.
14: Learn to write better captions
I know, I know. A picture should paint a thousand words, however, it doesn’t hurt to look into improving your skills so you can write better captions. Better yet, challenge or encourage your audience to percieve your photographs differently through your writing. Last year, I was lucky to be enrolled into a free photo-essay course run by the University of Tasmania. Everything was done online and I was able to share my writing and photographs to like-minded peers who gave me feedback and fortunately, praise. If free courses are not available, there are many free resources online to nazi your grammar or to give you tips on writing impactful captions.
13: Create a schedule or make time for your photography
If your focus this year is to grow your social media, one of the things you need to consider is consistency. This means that you need to be able to make time to take pictures or post them regularly. This could be very minimal such as dedicating a few hours after work to visit a cafe for that coffee-in-hand masterpiece or taking the time with friends to go to a photo sesh over the weekend. Last year, I was fortunate enough to have my friends join me in my travels and we were able to take awesome pictures of the sunset at Hassan’s Falls and fascinating graffiti in an abandoned brewery.
When scheduling your posts, you can use free services such as Crowdfire or paid services such as Hootsuite. Remember that you don’t need to take photos everyday to post daily. Plan your trips well and you may be able to take a few visual gems in a day to post on social media throughout the week.
12: Grow your platform
If you are thinking of growing your photography platform, that is; Instagram, Facebook, 500px and other portfolio sharing platforms to showcase your skills, consider consulting a Social Media Manager. Usually they are quite expensive but will provide you strategic and expert advice on branding, analytics and monetization. They will not necessarily enhance your photography skills, but can provide you a wealth of information as to which types of posts work and basically tell you that the nth photo of your feet isn’t photography.
Watch this space throughout the year as I work with a travel provider, 3 creatives, a personal training podcaster, a fighter momma, a BPO financial advisor and travelling twins!
11: Learn to use applications, manually
Gone are the days relying on that filtering app that makes you look like a surgically-enhanced, smudgie from the 90s. Yeah you know the ones, I still have the stickers as proof of my narcissism.
Why not try learning how to enhance a picture manually by knowing the various tools built into apps such as Snapseed or Enlight? I have personally been able to dramatically enhance pictures by playing around with the different buttons and not rely on presets or filters. You can start with free apps but you may also need to save up for paid apps because some applications are great tools to use but made even better with paid features. For tips on enhancing your mobile photography, subscribe to the iphonogra.ph FB page for your weekly nugget.
10: Enroll in a photography class or workshop
Look, you owe yourself at least one class or workshop to enhance your technical understanding of photography. Learn the basics of composition, colours and techniques or simply find out the rules so you can (eventually) break them. Read books, subscribe to a Skillshare course or attend an exhibit. Finally, enroll to a formal class. Someone once commented that I use the rule of thirds quite well and I nodded like I knew what it was. Turns out, it is a concept to achieve balance, harmony and focus in your pictures. How did I know that? I became a part of a photography club at work! Some workshops or clubs may not be suitable for mobile photography but they are essentially and foundationally the same in theory. Even if you won’t be able to apply ISOs and aperture settings when using your phone, having an understanding of these concepts may help you work around photography obstacles, ahem, like lowlight conditions.
9: Celebrate other people’s photography
I reserve the beginning of the week for my Monday Mimeographs. Well technically, a mimeograph is a stencil duplicator used in the 1800’s so my usage of this word is probably incorrect. In my defense, I bring you mimes from the Ancient Greece. Also it’s my page so I can make things up. LOL. The point is, on Mondays, I feature an IG user I’ve been inspired by and aspire to be. These are my mimeos as I fondly call them but I think, in hushed tones, they refer to me as the guy with the cellphone.
Why do I do this? Well it’s a way for you to look introspectively as well. When you see a photo you like, ackowledge it and look at technical aspects of the picture. Observe why you liked the photo, what angles they used, how they used light and color, what subjects they focused on etc. Study photographs by Steve McCurry and understand why the Afghan Girl captivated the world. Over time, your appreciation of other people’s work can bleed into your own personal style which can result in dynamic and fully-realized photographs. Promise. Hindi yan charot.
8: Teach someone to photograph you
This is an unusual challenge. How often have you taken awesome pictures of other people and have them just take burst photos of you hoping that you will like atleast one of them? Seriously though, think of this challenge as a way to let people know what you want in a photo. Don’t be afraid to ask or direct the photo shoot.
It could be as simple as letting someone know to aim their cameras higher so your jumpshot is in the middle, or if you want your shot panned to the side as it could be an potential essay-filled profile picture. Trust me, you don’t want to be spending the train ride home browsing through poorly executed pictures, wallowing in pain and sadness.
Otherwise, turn your failures into “artistic shots” instead. Shoutout to my sister!
7: Join an online community
One of the best things in Facebook these days is the infinite affiliate groups you can join through their communities. I personally am a part of a few photography and travel groups which organizes meet ups for shoots or give out daily challenges which you can post and subject to feedback. Joining online communities and forums can give you first hand information on the types of phones or accessories they are using, subjects and locations to photograph and potential dates (not recommended).
6: Challenge yourself with weekly themes
I love challenges. I’m giving you a few now. LOL. I just read today that a lady has completed 8 years worth of daily photography challenges ranging from straightforward subjects like clouds, spring or coffee to more ambiguous ones such as false dichotomy, palettics and would-you-let-someone-go-just-to-let-them-know-that-you-love-them-?.
Again, I made them up. My page.
To kickstart your shooting challenge, start by downloading the list from PhotoBlog. Oh did I say weekly themes? I meant 365 daily challenges. Have fun!
5: Watermark your pictures
Having my photo stolen and paraded around as a sub-par, filter heavy picture and then finding about it through the poser’s effective but mindless use of hashtags led me to eventually watermark my pictures. You can do this manually through Photoshop or buy the in-app feature in Typic. Install this and read my walkthrough by searching #iphonotip on your FB search bar.
4: Buy an external battery
I have three battery packs. I am afraid to be stuck inside a moving vehicle, which will get to my destination in 8 hours. Getting one is a great investment and can turn your day trips well into the night with full battery.
The good ones have complex input and output ratios and usually goes over my head. Rule of thumb, create your own ratio by calculating how much it costs VS how big the mAh is. Also, that wasn’t a rule or thumb. Don’t forget to pay attention to counterfeit ones because it can easily turn into mEh. Yeah, those are the ones you charge for a semester only to drain ever so slowly the moment you unplug it.
Oh, get an extra cord too. Nothing worse than having a battery pack and no cord (pasok, Alanis!).
3: Take an awesome jumpshot/s
Just go for it. Even near a cliff.
I’ve done it. I’m fine.
2: Go back
Don’t forget to look back at what you’ve done. I do this annually.
To be honest, I remember deleting an old IG account because of my terrible pictures. I regret doing this as it was still full of memories. Aside from that, it shows you how much you may have improved over time.
To chronicle your journey, I suggest linking your IG page to your Facebook page which will automatically create an Instagram Photos folder in Facebook for you. That way, you can look at your sojourn at any time. If you weren’t able to do this for earlier photos, you can extract your photos from your IG account using InstaSaver. Another app I use is Quik, formerly known as Replay. Having recently been acquired by GoPro, this simple to use video editing app (with in-app paid features) easily links to your FB photo albums to create fun and fresh videos to “look back” on. Lastly, do your IG BestNines which is usually available to generate for free towards the end of the year.
Nothing goes hand in hand with photography more than travel. Travel for me is essential not just to the eye but all the senses. For iphonogra.ph, I have aimed to capture the essence of my travels but it is always, never enough.
Travel awakens the human instict to move and explore, to wander and to be astonished. Photography captures these moments.
When travelling, allow yourself to give equal attention to the journey as well as the destination because photographic opportunities are often spontaneous and uninhibited. Travel for the love of the world and capture your love of the world through your pictures. In no time, not only will you have memories and stories to tell, but photographs to relish and keep, like the feeling you get when you hear a certain song. With this, through your photographs, you will always have free travel.
If you still need that extra push to travel, here’s an awesome video to open your Human Eyes.
Yey! That’s it! We are done! Hope 2017 will be a fruitful year for wonderful mobile photography through this list. Tell me how you go by commenting on this post or by sending me a message on Instagram or Facebook!
Cheers and hope you have a colourful 2017!