At this very moment, how interesting is your Instagram? Go on, take a scroll through and see if anything really catches your eye. That sunset may be beautiful, that brunch may look tasty and that new suit may have been a steal, but do your smartphone photography skills do them justice?
We’ve all scared ourselves when we’ve accidentally hit ‘advanced settings’ on our phone cameras, and hurriedly retreated to the safety of portrait modes and blemish-fixing filters. But the exposure, contrast and saturation sliders aren’t as tricky to master as you may think.
Gentleman’s Journal partnered up with Alex Lambrechts, a professional editorial photographer and Leica ambassador who is championing the new Huawei P20 Pro, which boasts three high-quality Leica lenses, to discover the tips and tricks anyone with a phone can try out to add some flourish and flair to your camera roll.
Try to tell a story
There’s nothing worse than a bland landscape or another saccharine selfie. The first trick to spice up your Instagram feed is to use your pictures to convey something more than just a lifeless still life.
“Always try to add a story into your pictures,” Lambrechts tells us. “If you do that, get some narrative in there, the image will stay with you a little bit longer — and anybody else who looks are your pictures. If you can throw in a subliminal message as well, or some subtext, that’s always fun.”
Set your exposure for highlights
Never quite got your lighting right? Lambrechts advises you to pick a style, such as overexposing, to give your feed more uniformity and style.
“If you set your exposure for the highlights in your photos,” says the photography, “the light will pick up what you want it to see, and darken down what’s not important.”
Shoot to see the world differently
No-one wants to see a picture of your breakfast or your car that doesn’t use alternative angles or colourings to add interest. Photography is a tool to reframe the world, Lambrechts says.
“I use photography to see the world differently. Capturing pictures allows you to see things tin ways the eyes don’t, so constantly try to throw in some curveballs and play with the objects and people you’re shooting.”
Excite some lens flare
Confident with light? Then why not try to add bursts of it to your photos, to draw in your followers and make them question what they’re looking at.
“If you’re working with colour,” says Lambrechts. try to introduce some lens flare as well to show you understand the light and how that can change your pictures. Exciting the lens flare to bring it out can add something to your photos. I use a lot of lens flare.”
Experiment with extreme cropping
It’s time to abandon the rule of threes. This safe technique makes for standard photos – and you want the extraordinary to stand out on Insta. An easy way to make your photos edgier? Extreme cropping.
“Extreme cropping is another way of shooting to see the world differently,” advises the photographer. Sometimes I crop after I’ve taken the photo, but if you for example place the area of interest right in the corner of your frame, or right at the bottom, it will force people to look at it.”
Work with shapes, lines and geometry
Leading people around your photos, from a start point to the key features and stories you’ve hidden in the frame, is one of the key parts of photography. Clean lines also give your photo a sharpness smartphone megapixels may be lacking.
“As with cropping, if you work with shapes and lines, you can use geometry to lead the eyes where they need to go in a shot. The subject matter can be the focus, or you could be led to it. And, if you’re taking more than one photo, the subject matter can be used to lead you through shots.”
Draw people in with the Dutch angle
It’s all about creating interest. You could have used your smartphone to shoot the prettiest sunset in the world, but everyone’s seen that before. But play with the horizon, to make those colourful rays cut diagonally across the frame – and that’ll give them something new.
“If you make them tilt their head to understand the picture,” says Lambrechts, “and physically change position to see what you’ve shot, then in that moment you’ve got them and they’re engaging with your work. Use soft focus to achieve a similar result — an easy way to draw people in.”
Want a new smartphone – that isn’t an iPhone? Check out our round up of the best here…