Improve Your Mobile Photography Using Lomography Rules

How the 10 golden rules from film photography can help you take better photos with your smartphone.
(credit: Lomography | Apple)

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In the twenty-teens Lomography reinvigorated the film photography scene with masterful marketing and successfully made a whole generation of hipsters fall in love with the analogue photography format. 

An interesting piece of Lomography’s promotional tool was “The 10 Golden Rules Of Lomography”. A simple list of points that are meant to guide and inspire film photographers. 

Although the popularity of film photography has once again dwindled, there could still be value in “The 10 Golden Rules Of Lomography” for an aspiring smartphone photographer.

So, let’s try it out. I’m going to use a Deep Purple iPhone 14 Pro Max as an example because that is what I got for my birthday.

Take Your Camera Everywhere

Shot using iPhone 14 Pro Max (credit: Tech TRP)

But for us smartphone users, bringing along our device — and in turn, our camera — wherever we go is second nature. 

Well, almost. Sometimes I forget my iPhone as well. To remedy that, I limit where I place my device (in my pocket or bag) and rely on the Apple Watch to notify me when I left it behind. 

I also attached an Air Tag to my keys and wallet so I don’t misplace them as well. 

Use It Any Time. Day & Night

Shot using iPhone 14 Pro Max (credit: Tech TRP)

For some smartphone photographers, lighting conditions are an issue. Just Recall all the promises your phone manufacturer made about how their camera is the best in low light. 

For example, the iPhone 14 Pro series has a 48MP quad-pixel camera, a new processing method called Photonic Engine (which iPhone 14 series also has), and a sensor 65% larger than the iPhone 13 Pro series. 

Then forget about it and take the picture anyway because you can’t get results without trying. If you got the picture, great! If you don’t, at least you tried.

It’s Not An Interference In Your Life But A Part Of It

Shot using iPhone 14 Pro Max (credit: Tech TRP)

To a smartphone photographer, this means getting comfortable with the device itself, more specifically being more familiar with handling the device. 

Compare these specifications to your device. The iPhone 14 Max Pro measures 160.7mm in height, 77.6mm in width, 7.85mm in depth, and weighs 240g. 

This translates to a phone with a large area to grip and weight for stability.

The iPhone 14 Pro series also has a Ceramic Shield on its front glass and is rated IP68. This means it’ll survive a tumble or a dunk in water.

Try The Shot From The Hip

Shot using iPhone 14 Pro Max (credit: Tech TRP)

This rule encourages taking photos at different angles, to go beyond eye-level shooting. Try shooting at waist level or crouch down for a low angle. You can even hold the phone closer to the floor for a lower angle. 

Knowing your device’s physical features and limitations helps. 

Shooting while not looking at the screen also creates less awkwardness because it doesn’t look like you’re taking a picture and a reliance on luck for framing.

I like to put the phone to my chest when taking pictures blindly, it adds extra stability and helps with framing. 

Approach The Subject As Close As Possible

Shot using iPhone 14 Pro Max (credit: Tech TRP)

Smartphone cameras tend to have wide lenses too, but it also has a bigger aperture and faster lenses. 

As a reference, the cameras on the iPhone 14 Pro series are a 48MP Main sensor with a 24mm ƒ/1.78 aperture lens — which can also shoot at 2x Telephoto at 12 MP —, a 12MP Ultra Wide sensor with a 13mm ƒ/2.2 aperture lens — which can also shoot in macro —, and a 12MP 3x Telephoto camera with a 77mm ƒ/2.8 aperture lens.

In all cases, getting close to your subject and filling the frame with it, is the point of this rule. 

Don’t Think

Shot using iPhone 14 Pro Max (credit: Tech TRP)

Taking a picture spontaneously means trusting your camera’s automated features. Just point, shoot, and be confident that all the marketing jargon phone makers spew about their cameras is true.

Of course, it will help if you know and understand your smartphone camera’s capabilities, settings, and limitations. 

On the iPhone 14 Pro Max, there’s the Photonic Engine, fast aperture, second-generation sensor-shift optical image stabilisation, and larger sensor. So I don’t need to worry about getting a bad shot.

But I still have to make sure the camera defaults to my liking; Do I want to use flash, Live Photos, or long exposure? 

Be Fast

Shot using iPhone 14 Pro Max (credit: Tech TRP)

Let launching the camera app on your device be second nature. On some phones, it is as easy as double tapping a button. On an iPhone 14, that’ll launch the Apple Wallet. 

I had to learn to press and hold the camera button on the Lock Screen or swipe left on the iPhone 14 Pro Max to take a picture. 

Another tip, use your device’s volume button as a shutter button. Some smartphones are lucky enough to have a dedicated shutter button. Just mind your fingers though. Wide angle lenses need plenty of space and the volume buttons are generally close by.

You Don’t Have To Know Beforehand What You Capture

Shot using iPhone 14 Pro Max (credit: Tech TRP)

In a lot of cases, you don’t need to check and make sure the photo you took on your smartphone is perfect. Just live in the moment, not behind the screen, and prepare to shoot some more. You can always check on your photos later. 

If you are limited on space, expandable storage and cloud storage are your friends.

I subscribe to Apple One. For RM69.90 a month, I and five other family members have access to Apple TV, Fitness +, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, and most importantly 2TB of cloud storage. 

Afterwards Either

Shot using iPhone 14 Pro Max (credit: Tech TRP)

Looking at the photos later lets you relive the moment again. The metadata on the photo, such as the location it was taken, and the other photos surrounding it in the album can help.

If it’s not perfect, don’t worry. Almost every smartphone has its suite of photo editing and touch-up tools. Not to mention third-party apps. 

The iPhone 14 Pro series has an A16 Bionic chip and a large (or larger) Super Retina XDR Oled display. Together they give me the power and capability I need to make decent photos great or slap a film filter on those that are questionable. 

Don’t Worry About Any Rules

Shot using iPhone 14 Pro Max (credit: Tech TRP)

This refers to the rules stated above and photography techniques in general, not actual rules. Don’t go breaking the law and be courteous at locations where photography is prohibited. 

Instead, experiment with mobile photography. Sure there are a lot of videos online about it. I learned a lot from watching Today At Apple Creative Project, the key is to go out, practice it, and experiment with it.

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