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How to take quality photographs with your cell phone

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5 min read

The imagery on your website, booking platforms, and social media pages goes a long way towards converting ‘browsers’ into bookers, so you’ll obviously want them to be of top quality and elicit positive reactions amongst your target audience.

The obvious way to go about this is to hire a professional photographer – but what if your budget simply won’t allow for such a luxury? Fear not. It’s still 100% possible to take high quality, emotive photographs using just your cell phone. Here are some pointers for getting it right.

Use natural light whenever possible

Great photography requires plenty of light, and when shooting pictures using your smartphone, natural light is always best. Steer clear of using the flash on your phone’s camera, which can be far too bright and rather unflattering. Instead, take pictures outdoors or, if shooting inside, open up the windows so that the warmth of the sunshine can flood in. If you must snap a few pictures at night, reach for some candles for a gentler, more romantic aesthetic.

Stabilise your cell phone

There’s nothing professional about a blurry image. Get your photos sharp and clear by stabilising your cell phone on a tripod or a special smartphone stabiliser as opposed to holding it in your hand. If these gadgets are too pricey, you can create a makeshift handheld stabiliser using just three common household items, namely a screwdriver, a hammer, and a few elastic bands.

Keep the device clean

If your smartphone’s lens is dusty, dirty, or covered in fingerprints, your photographs simply aren’t going to come out as beautiful as they should. Therefore, always use a soft microfibre cloth to wipe the lens before shooting anything. It is also a good idea to invest in some special lens cleaner if you want to ensure that the lens is squeaky clean before getting down to business.

Get creative with composition

Composition refers to how you ‘pose’ your photograph. It is definitely worthwhile to do some research into how to approach composition from a professional photographer’s perspective. For example, many photographers believe that photos that boast plenty of symmetry often get the best reactions.

There is also a ‘golden rule’ that states that you should never place the subject of your photograph directly in the centre of your frame.

A great hack to remember is to shoot photographs using the grid feature on your smartphone to divide the frame into 9 equal parts and work according to the rule of thirds. This rule dictates that you should place key elements of your subject at one or more points where the lines of the grid intersect.

Steer clear of bold backgrounds

While you don’t necessarily want plain black or white backgrounds, you certainly don’t want bright or cluttered backgrounds stealing the attention away from the focal subject of your photo. If you are shooting outdoors where you have less control over your background, another tip is to embrace the auto-focus feature on your smartphone. This will help to ensure that the viewer’s eye instantly goes where you want it to, while keeping the background soft and subdued.

Another tip? Always be aware of what might be lurking in the background of your shot – and avoid bins, washing lines or piles of laundry. We’re aiming for perfect!

Use people in your photographs

Obviously, you will want to take pictures of your guesthouse/travel business and what makes it so unique. However, research has shown that images with people included have a much stronger effect. This is because are brains are programmed to form connections with other humans. Plus, if another person looks at a photo of someone else enjoying sitting poolside with a cocktail in hand at your guesthouse, it is much easier for them to picture themselves doing the same and feel inspired to actually take action to make that happen.

Play around with angles

Your initial instinct will likely be to snap photographs straight on at eye level. However, there is lots of room to get creative in this regard – and you may be surprised to discover just how big of a difference it can make to the final image if you simply tilt the camera slightly up or down.

Use burst mode to get the perfect shot

Burst mode can come in handy, particularly in instances when you are trying to capture an image with various moving parts, such as a tree blowing in the wind or happy, smiling guests in the middle of a vibrant conversation. Burst mode allows you to take multiple pictures in quick succession, upping your chances of getting the sharpest, most stunning photo possible.

Say no to zoom

The zoom feature is known to significantly impact the overall resolution of your photograph, thus affecting its quality and reducing your options when it comes time to edit your shots. So, if you need to get closer to your subject, rather move closer physically instead.

Take your time to edit

Speaking of editing, most smartphones come with basic editing options built right in. They allow you to adjust the brightness, contrast, and sharpness of a photograph. If you want a bit more control, however, there are plenty of editing apps that you can download and use for a small fee, too. A few favourites include Phonto, Studio, Snapseed, and Adobe Lightroom. Here’s to breath-taking photos that fit right in to your marketing strategy and help to generate the interest that your travel business deserves!

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