Meet Sebastian Smith, internationally published celebrity and fashion photographer and the Photography and Lighting Instructor at Academy of Make Up Arts. He also owns a gallery in Charleston where you can check out and buy his work. Today he is with us at The AMUA sharing his insights on how a smartphone can help you create content for self-promotion on social media. You don’t always need to be carrying an expensive camera to get the best shot. Following is a summary of one of his classes he was instructing –
The inception of cameras on phones has allowed us to create more images in one half-day (in just 12 hours) than the number of photos that were shot between the years of 1960-1983!! Seeing these statistics, it is safe to say that photography has become much more common than it was years before- which is mind blowing! Sebastian said he shoots more than 200 pictures of his daughter on any given day! This does not include the photos he takes during his workday. That is how much phone cameras have changed the photography scenario. Thus, a smartphone is the #1 tool for a makeup artist to grab shots of graphic eyes or perfectly curved lips. Also, using smartphone for shooting photos is also a cost effective choice. Whether you are an iPhone user or an Android user, it will always be cheaper than compared to $20,000 worth of professional photography equipment.
PS Did you know there is an award for the best iPhone images?! If not, you’re missing out. Check out the stunning IPPAWARDS here!
Features to Look For In a Smartphone Camera –
Image Quality – The first thing you need to see, especially when you are more of an image-based person, is the image quality. Apple, for instance, with every new version that comes out, they have a better camera with a higher megapixels and the like. However, in Sebastian’s opinion the best (phone camera) would be Nokia’s phone that has 45 megapixel camera attached to the phone. The benefit of this camera is that you can take shots from a distance and they will turn out well in print. The distance won’t affect the picture quality. Disclaimer: he also claims the camera is great but the phone itself isn’t as great. He further adds that Apple iPhone 7 might be coming out with a camera so advanced that will take Point and Shoot to a whole new level.
Megapixel – The second thing to look for is the Megapixels. Megapixels are an important deciding factor in how well a printed version of the smartphone photo will come out. The higher the megapixel is, the better the print quality.
Screen Resolution – The next comes the screen. The screen should have a high resolution so that you can see sharp and clear photos.
Image stabilization – Image stabilization is also an important factor when taking photos. This can help getting clear shots even when the lighting is not as effective.
Video Quality – Video quality should be good, too. You will need video for showing some behind the scenes work. Snapchat, for instance, is a great and trending social app for shooting behind the scenes and sharing with your followers. You can also share videos on Instagram and hashtag them with the relevant tags.
Popularity – Popularity is also important. You can choose to buy a phone that is popular. Also, the operating system is important. You have to choose which OS you can work with. Storage space and battery life should be taken into consideration.
Non-essential Accessories – Also, you can get a non-essential camera accessory is aftermarket lens or the Lens Baby. It can create images like those that are created in Instagram’s Filters. These lenses can also be attached to your cameraphones for zoom, wide angles, etc.
Some Other Important Features To Look For – Your camera should allow you to use grid lines. You should be able to enable and disable flash. For instance, don’t use flash for makeup which is metallic or water-based. Your phone should have timer. You should be able to lock the focus and adjust exposure so that the object being shot is clear while the rest is blurred. If this is the effect you are trying to create, then lock-focus.
How To Create a Style with your Work –
Light – The first thing you need to think about is the light and lighting effect. The lack of light can make even a pretty girl look less beautiful. You need to make sure that the lighting highlights the entire beauty of the object in your picture. It’s a fine light that looks good. The best light is the light coming in from outside. So, if for instance you are outside and it is sunny, just get under a tree and take a picture. During the day time, you will have overhead light. Does that look good on the face? It looks good only on the face. In the evening you can get that beautiful lighting that is warm. Sometimes it can be too yellow but if you work right then you can get the right photo. Leading lines will surely make a difference when creating depths. Avoid negative spaces which are of no use in the picture.
Natural Frames – Natural frames can also enhance the object in the picture. It could be trees, mountains, it is up to you to figure out what can act as an effective natural frame. Look at the background and the lighting and see what would make a better setting for taking a picture with people in it. Compress images and make sure that you use that to create what is most important in there. You have to focus on getting the picture in the most beautiful way as possible. You have to make the picture look real and not fake, especially if it is a makeup shot. Over manipulation of any photo is not a good idea. Do not Photoshop photos just to get a good shot because it will only be a lie and no one wants to work with someone who cannot shoot good pictures without editing them.
A Few Rules Of Professional Photography –
Photo Composition – Composition of the shoot is very important. It is important to compose the image so that there is a flow to it. If you can’t create a flow then it won’t look right. You will look like you don’t know what you are doing. People judge you by the photos and videos you shoot. People are going to judge you by what you share socially. If you think some stuff is weak then remove it and delete it. In case you are tagged in a photo you don’t want to show up on your page then just hide them. Remember: Your portfolio is only as strong as your worst image. So in order to get a great composition here are a few rules you can follow:
Know Your Background – You must know your background. Don’t have a picture of someone standing by the fence or by a brick wall. You should get a better background to show your creativity. Get a good hairstyle as well. Don’t cut off the limbs when taking photos because if it looks weird then it is weird. If you are going to crop a photo you don’t crop it at the knees. The photo should look natural even after being cropped. You can cut off limbs as long as it looks normal. If the person is in the center then the photo will not look good unless it is a beauty shot. Also, when working on photo composition, there should be variety. You cannot just click beauty shots after beauty shots and assume that it will attract visitors and followers.
Rule of Thirds – If we follow the Rule of Thirds, the object should be offset. You need to capture not just the people in the photo but also the subject of the picture. The artist whose work shows the implementation of Rule of Thirds is Sartorialist. He just shoots what he sees and it isn’t typically centered. He works with an iPhone and shoots street fashion. His intentions with the shoot is to show a story behind each photo and not just take some beauty shots. For instance, he took a shot of a girl focusing on her fashion with a blurred background. He captures such photos which is more dynamic than a simple beauty shot. So as an artist, be creative and you have to enjoy what you are doing and love it! Apart from the skills you need to have a passion for the type of photos you shoot.
Simplify Your Shot – You need to simplify and know your focus. You need to know what is most important in the shot. If you are not sure, then don’t shoot it! You need to figure out what ‘thing’ from the photo will explain the story behind that photo. So, simplify your shot.
Rule of Odds – Next, there is the Rule of Odds which states that an odd number of people in a photo will look better than an even number. Also, having three or five people in photo keeps the people looking at it for a longer period of time. If it is products you are shooting, then take a photo of three or five products and hashtag the brand(s) you used. This is a great way to get attention from the brands!
Leading Lines – Leading lines are incredibly important, and they are the lines that go through the photograph. They are very helpful when you need to create depth in your picture or have to shoot too many objects at once. It helps to define each object individually but also as a whole in the picture. Leading lines really create details and depth to every picture.
Sebastian’s Advice and Words of Wisdom –
Be creative! That is the most important thing to do. If you use a phone camera be creative with your phone camera. Create with your camera! If you can find a cheap lens to get great photos, do it but be creative with your work. To get a job, you don’t need expensive equipment as much as you need to use creativity. He adds an example here saying that he is going for a shoot in Alaska in February, and in order to get the work he shared a shoot that he had done in Greece some time back. He did some simple editing and just sent it over to his client. He shot the whole thing using only his iPhone. He stresses on the fact that if you have it in front of you, then use your phone and get it. Tip: Always carry an extra battery, especially when doing a movie.
The rules shared so far should be followed if you want to get really good professional pictures especially when you are starting your career in this and all this done with just a phone. If you want to learn more, then follow those people on Instagram who are successful imagist on Instagram and you will see the thing that is common in them is that they have created a compositional style of their own. That is the reason why they have so many likes on each of their pictures.
Lastly, when using social media, make sure that the photos you share cannot be used by someone else for advertising purposes. For instance, Facebook can use the images and Flickr too. Read their Disclaimers and know what you are getting into. Also, make sure that the language you use is grammatically and syntactically correct, otherwise it will look unprofessional. You will always get more work through client references. If a past client of yours can refer you through their social accounts, you can definitely expect to get some new clients that way. For more information on his classes at Academy of Makeup Arts and his work, you can get in touch with us. If you want to follow Sebastian on Instagram to see what he is sharing, then follow him on Instagram @Sebastiansmithphoto
Listen to the entire lecture on podcast here.