Taking Pro Pictures on a Smartphone

Be in control of your own professional photography using your smartphone with tips from Jet Lendon of Jet Black Squares.

One of the frustrating aspects of the lockdown is the restriction on our ability to enjoy the outdoors. While movement has been restricted we have all taken to the Internet and social media in particular. In doing this I am sure we have all grown to appreciate the importance of visual imagery within posts and on supporting websites.

As business owners I would imagine that, for the vast majority, money is tight. While some of you are just trying to navigate your way through home schooling and living day to day, others will be using the time to do the jobs you kept putting off. Being confined to barracks has also led many companies to show their human side. I personally love seeing the CEO of a large multi-national on a Zoom meeting try to hold it together while her three year old is screaming for ice cream, or a virtual staff meeting interrupted while the dogs go mad at squirrels in the garden (guilty of that one!). Thank you Robert Kelly for paving the way to ‘keeping it real’!


Whatever you are doing, remember to document it – whether it’s for your own personal memories, or for your business. Content is everything. The present trend is for businesses to display empathy.

While this form of content is informal you need to ensure that it is on-brand. The challenge is how do you achieve the high quality visually stunning imagery that your brand requires with a rapidly evaporating budget?

Smartphone cameras have evolved so much over the last few years that the quality of the images produced can easily rival a professional camera. Like everything though, you have to know how to use it properly in order to get the best out of it (the saying ‘all the gear, and no idea’ springs to mind!). Hopefully these top tips will help to elevate your photography from a mere ‘snap’ to a photograph you can be proud of.

  1.  Don’t over-think it. You are not professional photographers or stylists so don’t put yourself under too much pressure.
  2. If your branding has an accent colour, maybe think about getting that into the shot somewhere (the same colour napkins on the table, or seat covers, flags, etc). Special K and Vodafone always feature red for example.
  3. Look at the whole picture before pressing the button. Are the bins or phone mast in the shot? Or the cat’s litter tray? Either move them or move you.
  4. When we are all out of lockdown use friends and family members as models. Some of the best shots are when people aren’t looking at the camera, but looking away, laughing or chatting.
  5. Turn the gridlines on on your camera (Google how to do this for your specific phone). Not only does this help with getting straight lines, but you can also apply the Rule of Thirds in your images (where you keep your main subject out of the middle square so you are off-center). This works for people, locations and products.
  6. Look for the light. Can you see any unsightly shadows (especially your own!)? Get to know when the best light falls during the day and plan your photography around this. If you get the best light at 3pm in a certain room or location in the summer, then try and shoot around this. Obviously this is going to change with the weather and seasons, but it’s a good base to start with. Try to avoid harsh sunlight if you can. If you want to throw some extra light on a subject, cover a cereal box (or bigger) with tin foil and angle it so the light is reflected where you want it. This gives you an instant reflector.
  7. If you have ‘portrait’ mode (or equivalent) on the newer phones, use it, but make sure you touch on the screen as to what you want to be in focus. If you have a messy background, this works wonders in blurring it all away.
  8. Edit every photo you post and if you are using a filter, make sure it is consistent across all your photos. I use the free editing app called ‘Snapseed’. Be careful though as you don’t want to over-edit your photos.
  9. Remember that everyone has a smartphone so invite others to add to your brand. Use a unique hash tag and invite your guests to use it whenever they post on social media. Make it known that, by using this hash tag, it gives permission for you to re-share their images and voila, you have an instant bank of images you can use to promote your business. While we are all in quarantine, why not ask your past customers to share their favourite memory of you using the hash tag #[companyname]bestlife or something similar. Not only does this reignite the memories, it also gives you content to share on your own sites.
  10. If you really don’t like taking photos, then see if someone else can do it for you. If you have teenagers or other family members at home with you, see if they will do it instead. My two teens will do anything for a couple of quid – a lot cheaper than hiring a professional to do it and it gives them something to do for a few hours too!

If you are interested in learning how to get the most from your smartphone and take control of your own brand imagery check out the masterclass and workshops offered by Jet Black Squares at www.jetblacksquares.com

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