In "SnApp Shots: How To Take Great Pictures With Smartphones And Apps," Adam Bronkorst lets us discover our inner artist. Billed as "how-to photography for the twenty-first century," Bronkhorst, who works as a portrait photographer, knows the tips and tricks to get a truly memorable photo from your smartphone camera. We sent him a few questions to learn more, and his thoughtful answers are below. Scroll down for images.
HP: What made you want to create this book, since you come from a professional photography background?
AB: I do come from a professional photography background, but the camera that I enjoy using most is my iPhone. It's always with me, its so simple to use, I can take a photo, edit it and upload it all in the space of a few seconds. It really does simplify the photography process. i thought that it would be interesting to write a book from a photography point of view on the different ways that you can use a smartphone to photograph. Rather than coming at it from this app does this like this. So the idea was that we talk about different techniques rather than specific apps. I really do think that smartphones are the future of photography. They are taking it in a direction that we hadn't anticipated. I believe that if some of the great street photographers were still alive, like Henri Cartier-Bresson, they would seriously look at using a smartphone for their photography.
HP: When did you start using your phone as a camera?
AB: I've always used my phone as a camera, ever since the technology became available. I first got the iPhone 3, which really didn't have a good camera on it, but the more you use a camera, the more you get to know what it can and what it can't do. So I became very good at getting the best image that I could from a poor camera and knowing what lighting conditions work well. I also started to do a portrait project with my iPhone 3, where I took a different portrait of someone a day for six months. This was a great learning curve in terms of portrait photography and using the environment as well as how to push a camera phone to it's limits. This was a couple of years before apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram came about, so it wasn't as easy to shoot, edit and share as it is now. There really were not that many photography apps back then. (back then -- ha ha ha, it was only a couple of years ago, but already we are talking about old school phone photography).
HP: What are the top five tips you'd offer to someone wanting to capture a great picture?
AB: Think about what you are trying to show with your photo. What are you saying? Why are you taking this photo and what is it that made you want to take it? Think about the best way of communicating that. After all, photography is communication. Secondly, think about timing when you take your photo. Look to see whats happening. Is there a car just about to come into your landscape or read the street photo your just about to take, if you wait a second, will someone walk into you frame and give it a bit of scale? Thirdly, MOVE CLOSER. One of my favourite quotes is from the great war photographer Robert Capa, who said, "If your photographs aren't good enough, you're not close enough."
The fourth tip would be to think about your composition. Is there a tree growing out of someones head? A slight movement of the camera can really make a big difference. We all have ideas of what looks good and what doesn't so just employ those when you're making a creative decision about your photo. The final tip would be to use your phone's focus and exposure function. If you touch the area on your screen where you main point of interest is, your phone's camera will expose and focus on that area. If you find that the picture you want to take is a little too dark or too light, move that square around until you find an exposure that you are happy with. You'd be surprised how much of a difference moving in makes.
Hopefully you have noticed that out of the five tips that I've given, only one of them relates to your phone or apps. If it's not a good photo in the first place, is it really worth taking? Think about your photography first and you'll improve a lot more than relying on something else. Be creative with what you can control and then use apps to be more creative, but get it right first and foremost.
HP: Has there ever been a moment you were especially happy to have had your cameraphone handy?
AB: Everyday. I'm always walking around and seeing photos, and am pleased that I have my phone with me to capture them. If i'm going out, I know it's the only camera that I need to take with me. Previously I used to take a couple of film cameras, but i love shooting with my phone so much that i don't bother any more. I have a whole photo studio in my hand with my phone. But I suppose if there was one moment that it really mattered and that stands out above all the other it would have to be the birth of my daughter. We were in hospital and I had taken my big DSLR camera with me, but using a smart phone was just so simple and easy that within the first few minutes of her being born I was taking a few photos of her and captured her first moments in this world. (The photo made it into the book).